Microsoft to push Western games in Japan

Moore, who was until recently the boss of Sega of America, is now responsible – among other things – for the activities of the Home & Entertainment Division of Microsoft in Asia-Pacific, which puts him in charge of building up the Xbox in the difficult territory of Japan.

Last week, he spoke to NTT News about his plans for the Xbox in the Japanese market in an interview which has now been translated by Polygon Magazine. Although commentators have said since long before the launch of the Xbox in Japan that what the system needs is convincing locally-developed titles, Moore’s new focus, it seems, is on bringing popular western titles to the Far East.

“There are many popular games in America for the Xbox which haven’t been released in Japan,” he told NTT News. “I believe that’s because a distribution channel doesn’t exist for them. I’m interested in building relationships with many of these American and European software developers and have Microsoft localize their Xbox titles to the Japanese market.”

This seems like something of an over-simplification of a complex problem. While it’s true that finding distribution channels for western-developed titles in Japan is difficult at best, this is a situation which has arisen because historically, Japanese gamers have simply not been interested in the vast bulk of western games – just as western gamers aren’t wetting themselves at the prospect of playing the next Tokimeki Memorial dating sim.

The first company to get involved with this scheme will be Ubi Soft, whose Tom Clancy franchise titles – Splinter Cell and Ghost Recon – will be localised and released in Japan by Microsoft. It will be interesting to watch the progress of those titles, and other western games released under this initiative, not least since Microsoft’s efforts at pushing Xbox in Japan in the past have been broadly criticised for being “too western” and failing to understand the Japanese gamer mentality.

The second prong of Moore’s approach relates to Xbox Live, which he believes to be a key element in persuading Japanese gamers to invest in Xbox. “Personally, I think Xbox Live truly differentiates us from other companies in the market,” he claims. “I’d like to move the focus of the market toward online games and show players how games have changed. You can have two players sitting on a sofa enjoying a game, or play online with more than a thousand. It’s a matter of showing them the size of the possibilities that exist.”

Source: Polygon Magazine

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