#1: Japan = Failure?
By: Nick Arvites
many of the Internet’s various forums (including VGF’s
forums), one of the
reasons people cite for the "coming failure" of the Xbox
is the argument: "The Xbox will fail in Japan." Now, I can
see how this is relevant if the people arguing were in Japan, but
the simple fact that this argument is pulled from the mouths of
American and European gamers is quite disturbing. Another typical
argument is Microsoft is not doing anything right with the launch of
their console. Basically, my purpose of writing this is to help
prove these arguments wrong.
if the gaming market went back in time 15 years and used the age-old
mindset of ignoring the territories outside of Japan, this theory
would hold true. However, the last generation of consoles did one
important thing to the industry in general. The entrance of the
global corporation Sony pulled the gaming industry (kicking and
screaming in some cases) into a global market economy. Now, all of
the major companies look at the marketing picture in a global sense
instead of a territorial sense. Granted, there are still exceptions,
but all of the major players have seen how profitable and smart it
is to take into account the tastes and sales in the other
territories. Squaresoft is the poster-child of global gaming. Before
the release of Final Fantasy 7, Square was a niche developer making
niche games that almost never made it outside of Japan in their
original form because the controlling powers didn’t think the
games would move in the US. Jump to the post Final Fantasy 7 world.
Squaresoft is considered one of the top developers in the entire industry.
Why? Because their games were smash hits worldwide, including Japan.
Perhaps Sega would have survived longer if they would have
understood the global market. The Sega Saturn was a hit in Japan,
but didn’t achieve their expectations in the US. When the Saturn
died in the US, it was still going in Japan. However, instead of
concentrating in one strong market, Sega pulled the plug altogether.
The Dreamcast was the opposite. Japan didn’t really want it, but
it sold fairly well in the US (especially considering the PS2 was a
year away when it launched). However, instead of concentrating in
the US and European markets to try to gain more sales, Sega just
gave up. Sega simply cannot keep up with Sony or even Nintendo and I
know that’s what dug them in a grave to begin with (so save the
hate mail for something else), but the fact remains they started
digging by not reading markets correctly.
many people are now asking, "What’s the point?" First
off, Microsoft breaks a pattern of console manufacturers by actually
being located in the US. Unlike Japanese based companies like
Nintendo and formerly Sega, Microsoft’s main market will easily be
their home market. Now, many people have screamed that developers
will ignore Microsoft because it’s only strong in one market. Not
only is it far too early to tell the Xbox’s success or failure in
any territory, but gaming companies would be stupid to ignore a
major player in the market as well as get on Microsoft’s bad side.
Now, Microsoft’s bad side is not the over-exaggerated things you’ll
hear on the ‘net, but it does mean one major thing: No Microsoft
money for you! Many companies, like Microsoft, are obviously looking
to the future. Many people often forget this is Microsoft’s maiden
voyage in the console world and this is as much of a learning
experience for them as it was for Sony back with the PSone.
Microsoft’s major advantage in this industry is their
understanding of the online gaming world. Out of the three
companies, Microsoft is the only one that is taking the online
gaming world seriously. Because of this, Microsoft is even watched
by their competitors who obviously don’t think online gaming will
work with console gaming. Microsoft has done everything right so
far, yet they’re still criticized. I ask "why?" They
launched with a better than average games, they included every bell
and whistle with the console and still kept it affordable, and they
have a wide range of releases scheduled over the next few years.
Microsoft’s even acquired exclusives, several first run titles
with extra features, and signed deals with almost every third party
company out there. So how are they screwing up?
only will Microsoft’s success or failure in Japan not
effect them in terms of total success and support, but Microsoft’s
actually doing things right the first time around with the console
business. When was the last time you saw a company in their first
outing do everything right? Microsoft has the support, the
games, the hardware, and more importantly the dollar of over one
million North American consumers.