Microsoft had high hopes for the Xbox 360 in Japan and probably still does. 2008 was no doubt the year the Xbox 360 flourished there with exclusives like Tales of Vesperia leading the way which caused many Japanese gamers to flock to the system in long lines. 2009 was the worst year for the 360 in Japan with the console making little to no inroads gaining market share, so looking at all the different factors including the rise of PS3 Slim and the never-ending success of the Wii in Japan, will the Xbox 360 survive there this year?
In 2009, games that were once thought to be “true” Xbox 360 exclusives, started making their way over to the PS3 and what’s even worst, those versions were much more refined. Then came the big announcement: PS3 Slim was launched and suddenly the much criticized machine had gained massive momentum all over the world, with first day sales of said system being the highest in Japan. It’s bad enough that the Xbox 360 has had hardware issues from its inception, a problem Japanese gamers are used to dealing with but when you take away the games that set their system apart from the rest (exclusives) you’re basically saying to them give it up; and things only went downhill from there.
At retail, signs of Xbox 360 fatigue began popping up everywhere, at some chains, signs would include texts praising the PS3 and Wii while the Xbox 360 received little love. Others would put up boards stating they would not buy back 360s made before 2007 or stop buying used Xbox 360s all together, even major retailers like Yodobashi is easing away from Microsoft’s console stating they would no longer offer extended warranties on the Xbox 360.
So what does 2010 holds for Microsoft in Japan? Not much; Natal is around the bend so probably it could jolt new life into the Xbox 360 when it comes in the Q4, but even that is a wild card. For some reason, Japanese gamers are just not warming up to the system; maybe if the software giant invested in some new true exclusive IPs that gamers over there enjoy then probably things could change, but as of now, the situation is as bleak as it could get for the Xbox 360 in Japan.
In this life however, things are subject ot change; one day you’re up and other you’re down, never count Microsoft out.