Microsoft Xbox One lands in Japan with a dull thud


The Japan launch of the Microsoft Xbox One fell flat Thursday, with journalists covering the debut of the gaming console far outnumbering buyers.

The console arrived here more than nine months after it hit shelves in North America, Europe and Australasia and half a year after Sony unleashed its PlayStation 4 to grand acclaim.

The usual enthusiastic crowds that greet big launches in Japan were absent Thursday morning, with just one buyer at a major electronic retailer in Tokyo.

“I was surprised that I was the first one to get this even though I didn’t wait in a line,” said Kazuyuki Wakai, surrounded by half a dozen journalists from Japanese and international media.

Wakai, 30, said he opted for the Xbox because of its graphics and because certain titles are only available on that console, including the “Halo” series.

But Wakai, who also has a number of PlayStations and a Nintendo Wii, acknowledged that the Xbox lags far behind its Japanese rivals in terms of popularity.

“It may be because the bad impression of earlier models still lingers,” he said, referring to hardware designs and initial technical glitches.

Both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are aimed at hard-core gamers, strategies the companies hope will insulate them from the challenge posed by free or cheap smartphone downloads popular with casual players.

Microsoft says application software development and linguistic challenges are among the reasons behind the long lag in launching the Xbox One in Japan. In April it said it had shipped more than 5 million of the consoles globally since it launched in November.

Sony said last month that global sales of the PS 4 surged past the 10 million mark in less than a year, a record for the struggling giant.

Xbox has been trailing badly in Japan. Sales of the PlayStation 3 were 824,000 units in 2013, dwarfing the fewer than 20,000 logged for the Xbox 360, the predecessor of the Xbox One, according to estimates by leading game magazine Famitsu.

A Microsoft marketing official said the company expects sales to pick up as more titles are released toward the end of the year.

“We have high expectations as this (machine) is loaded with graphics that will surely satisfy game players,” he said.

  • coip

    I find the Xbox One with Kinect to be a much more exciting console than the PS4, which is far less ambitious. I would think that Japanese gamers looking for a nice change of pace would be interested in checking out the Xbox One, especially with those very well priced bundles Microsoft launched, with games like Titanfall, Kinect Sports Rivals, and Dance Central Spotlight. All of them are very fun games.

    • HowlJenkins

      So Project Morpheus is “far less ambitious”?

      • coip

        Oh, you mean the Oculus Rift ripoff? Sony only knows how to filch, not innovate. Regardless, VR will fail like 3D TV. No one wants to strap a helmet to their face just to become nauseated.

    • Asmodai

      In what way is the Xbox One much more exciting, I’m curious? The Kinect has failed and now that MS is selling the system without it and giving developers the option to disable its features in their games so they can get the 10% performance reserve back it’s almost certainly going to see even less support then it already has. Sony has Remote Play on not just the Vita but their new phones, tablets, etc, They have Share Play coming. They have Play Now game streaming in beta. Sony has Project Morpheus and while you may mock it as a Oculus rip-off I bet they’ll sell more of them then MS will sell stand alone Kinects. The Kinect is a failure and other than that there is nothing at all exciting about the Xbox One.

      • coip

        1. full 1080p HD camera that allows you to Skype with auto-digital zoom with up to 10 people.
        2. IR blaster that turns on your Xbox, TV, and cable box.
        3. Navigation controls via voice
        4. Navigation controls via gesture
        5. Allows you to play advanced fitness games with motion tracking and heartbeat monitoring
        6. Signs you in automatically via facial recognition, even in the dark.
        7. Allows you to play motion-controlled games such as Kinect Sports Rivals, Dance Central Spotlight, Fantasia, Fru, and Fruit Ninja Kinect 2.
        8. Allows you to stream games in real-time via Twitch with an inset video.
        9. Allows you to record game clips without having to remove your fingers from the buttons, unlike PS4, which is crucial for catching clips in competitive online matches like Killer Instinct where moving your finger off a button for a split second means you lose
        10. Allows you to edit game clips with an inset video, great for walkthroughs.
        11. Keeps track, via facial recognition and infrared, which players are holding which controllers.
        12. Allows you to play non-Kinect games with added in Kinect functions that improve gameplay, such as recording original character animations and dialogue in Project Spark, shouting out battle formations in Ryse, luring in zombies in Dead Rising 3, switching weapons in Tomb Raider, etc.
        13. Allows you to chat in party-chat without having to have a head set on, which is especially nice when there are other people in the room that want to participate in the conversation.
        14. A better OS that has instant resume of games, snap feature to multitask, and better exclusive apps
        15. Subscription services that are actually a good deal (EA Access) rather than a ripoff (PSNow)
        16. The ability to play media files directly or streamed from another device.
        I don’t have an interest in streaming console games to tiny handheld devices, especially not smartphones that lack proper controls (sticks, d-pads, triggers, buttons, etc). The Vita solves some of those issues, but is still on a tiny screen and costs a lot of money.
        I’m also not interested in VR technology. I think it’ll fail hard just like 3D TV. No one wants to strap a helmet to their face just to get nauseated. That said, yes, it is an Oculus Rift ripoff. Everything Sony does is reactionary.
        SharePlay is a neat idea, but it needs a lot of work (1 hour max? Uh, no thanks) and it also sounds a lot less exciting than what Microsoft was offering before: sharing digital games with up to 10 people.

      • Asmodai

        The vast majority of your list depends on Kinect to function which has failed in the market. Not only did sales double when MS dropped it but developers are going out of their way to DISABLE its functionality in their games even for people who do have it in order to get the 10% performance reserve back. With it no longer bundled in all consoles what little developer support it did have is now going to dry up. The people who bought the XBox One when it was mandatory are trying to get rid of the things on ebay, there is so little demand for it they can be found easily for under $100 (even though MS sells them new for $150.) You may love the Kinect but you are clearly in the minority.

        Pretty much everything else on your list is just software that will be added as both consoles receive firmware updates and some of them are thing the PS4 can already do if you buy the optional (and cheaper) PS4 Camera.

      • coip

        No, most of my list is hardware-based that Sony cannot add in. The Kinect is amazing. I’ll never go back to a nin-Kinect console ever again. Poor man’s systems.

  • Agrippa

    Same recycled articles no matter where you go. We’ll see just how bad it was next week.

  • Bozo Sapien

    The Playstation 4 landed in Japan with a dull thud too.

    • Sticky Notes

      It was actually Japan’s third biggest launch of all time selling 320k in just two days. Let us see what the Xbox One can do with its similar two day launch.

  • xTrucho3

    Funny how it doesn’t mention the WiiU being ahead of the XB1, is it really that embarrasing?