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Autore Topic: [X360] Jappo: cosa ne pensano gli sviluppatori  (Letto 850 volte)

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[X360] Jappo: cosa ne pensano gli sviluppatori
« il: 24 Agosto, 2005, 10:42:18 »

In the spring of 2002 Microsoft released the Xbox in Japan, and since then, the system has more or less been a complete and utter failure in the country.  The Japanese market never warmed up to Microsoft’s console, and while the Xbox is selling quite well in every other territory, Microsoft has yet to sell 500,000 units in Japan.  So far this year Microsoft has sold less than 9,000 consoles in Japan, and according to figures from Media Create, over all the consoles and portable in the marketplace, Microsoft currently has a 0.11% market share in the country.   That’s not even 1%!  So we asked a number of Japanese developers their thoughts on the subject, and whether or not they believe Microsoft has a chance this time around with the Xbox 360.

So why did the Xbox fail in Japan?  Most attribute the demise of the console to the fact that the console screamed “American Made.”  Since space is a serious issue in Japan, the size of the console was also problematic.

Q? Entertainment’s Tetsuya Mizuguchi (Lumines, Meteos, N3: Ninety-Nine Nights) said,” The original Xbox had a bit of a dark atmosphere.  It was black, and dark, and big.  It didn’t have a Japanese game chemistry feeling to it.  I think any country’s people feel that way about something.  Every product should feel like it’s a product of their own country, and that is very welcoming to people.  I mean, if something feels like it’s been made here, then people inherently believe it’s an okay product, and will more than likely purchase it.  Sony, Honda, Toyota – those are feel more like international companies to people outside of Japan, even though they are based in Japan.  Every company needs to make an effort adjust to make it feel that way in every country.  Xbox 1 didn’t have that feel.  It felt like it was just a dark system that came from the United States.  The games felt like they were from the United States.  It wasn’t tailored to the Japanese consumer.”

Konami’s Koji Igarashi (Castlevania) believes that the Sony brand is too strong in Japan.  “Right now PS3 is winning over Xbox 360 in Japan.  It’s about 70% to 30% in favor of PlayStation 3.  One major reason is the Sony brand itself.  It’s been here longer, in Japan.  For Japanese consumers, Xbox didn’t do well, and there are some impressions in our minds that, we don’t say loser, but it didn’t do well.  So, as you know in the past – Sega vs. Nintendo – that was another war, kind of.  To overcome that situation, Microsoft has to come up with a lot of titles that consumers in Japan will be attracted to.”

The most successful Xbox developer in Japan has been Tecmo.  While Dead or Alive 3 is still the best selling Xbox title in Japan, the game has done far better in North America and Europe.  Team Ninja’s Tomonobu Itagaki (Ninja Gaiden, Dead Or Alive, Dead Or Alive Extreme Beach Volleyball) isn’t that put off by Microsoft’s lack of success in his home country.  “First of all, it won’t get any worse than the original Xbox, that’s for sure.  It’s going to take time for Microsoft to win in the truest sense.  So for example in baseball, the major leagues are the major leagues.  It’s the top of the world.  Microsoft has said that the Japanese game market is like the major leagues.  They understand that and the challenges.  Even Microsoft doesn’t believe that they’re going to be able to win in just two generations.  But I recognize and value that they are attempting and taking this challenge in this market, and I want to assist them and help out in any way I can.  I’ve mentioned this in other interviews, but I don’t aim my games at any particular market, like this is for Japan, and this is for America.  The fact that the Xbox hasn’t been successful in Japan, and since I’m Japanese it’s a little disconcerting.  But I’m probably the least worried about that because Microsoft has pledged to continue until they win.  It may not happen in one generation, or two generations, they are going to stay in for the long haul.”

A new strategy could be the key to success.  Satoshi Sakai (Phantasy Star Universe), Section Manager G.E. R&D Dept. #3 Sega of Japan said, “I’m not too sure.  I think that Microsoft has learned a lot with the first Xbox in Japan.  They will need a different strategy in Japan to succeed.  They’ll have a chance if there’s good software, and good PR before the launch of the system.  It’s helped that they’ve made the hardware smaller.”

Microsoft believes they have what it takes to change the perception of the Japanese market.  Yoshihiro Maruyama, Microsoft’s Executive Officer and General Manager Xbox Division explained their positioning, “We have three objectives: we would like to be on the market at the same time or earlier than Sony - that's one key milestone we are hitting. The other key component of the strategy is simply coming early doesn't guarantee success like we have seen with the Dreamcast. So we have to have a competent gaming experience for the Japanese consumers, and that’s why we are having this event today to preview all the games available on 360.  We have had some events in May to unveil some first party titles.  To succeed in Japan I don’t think we can just rely on third party titles, but we also need to have very strong hardware defining first party titles, plus strong support from the third party publishers, which we believe we are now achieving.  We believe this time around that we have very strong game titles to offer to the Japanese consumer. And thirdly, the design of the console, we have to be more attentive to the tastes of the Japanese consumer. The current Xbox console we heard was a little too aggressive for the Japanese consumers’ tastes.  We spent some time doing lots of focus groups to understand the tastes of the Japanese consumers.  I don't think we need to make a console that is attractive to everybody. But at least we have to make something which many consumers don’t dislike. So as long as it is neutral, I think that's fine. The first two elements are more important than the last.  Those are our three parts of the strategy for Japan: coming out the same time or earlier than Sony, and offering a compelling game experience for the Japanese consumer, and make the design, not just the hardware but also the interface more suitable to the Japanese consumer.”

Even though the original Xbox was defeated in Japan, Microsoft is doing everything in their power to make headway in the country.  They’ve worked with a Japanese design firm to create the exterior of the system, which has pleased Wataru Higuchi, Producer, Square Enix (Grandia III),  “I believe that the Xbox 360 will have more players and recognition this time around.  As a Square Enix employee, I think they took into consideration what the Japanese gamer is looking for in the next generation of consoles when they built the Xbox 360.”

Microsoft has also courted a number of developers like Square Enix, Q? Entertainment, Game Republic, and Mistwalker to develop software for the Xbox 360.  While some believe Microsoft’s Xbox Live service will help, one thing all developers could agree on was the fact that software will be what will make or break the Xbox 360 in Japan. 

Yusuke Naora, Producer, Square Enix (Code Age), “We haven’t received any information as far as what titles will launch along side the Xbox 360.  I don’t believe it’s the hardware that matters – it’s the software.  The system needs very good software constantly after the hardware is released.”  But in general, I think a lot of people will accept the Xbox 360.  Xbox will be very strong with internet games, and I believe that will help them expand their audience.  With the first Xbox, it was hard to determine which audience Microsoft was aiming for.  This time, they’re really putting a focus on internet games.  The strength of Xbox Live will really help the console become more accepted.”

But is Japan even that worthwhile for Microsoft to fight for?  Some attribute Microsoft’s demise in the country to the fact that the market for videogames has gotten smaller in the last couple of years.  Itagaki believes this to be the case as well, “I’m going to tell you the absolute truth.  Most Japanese don’t really care about games.  They’re not interested in games.  Gaming is a very small subculture in Japanese society in general, and it’s getting smaller and smaller.  Obviously I like games, so I’m still in that subculture and community.  But to discuss how the Xbox 360 is perceived in such a small community really doesn’t have that much of an impact in the big picture.  So kids love Nintendo and love Nintendo games.  I have a daughter that’s in grade school and in her class all everyone talks about is Nintendo DS.   The subject of PSP has obviously never come up.  There’s only two children that will talk about Xbox, my daughter, and a child that happens to be one of my fans.   (laughs)  So it’s really a discussion about what are the needs of the community.  That community may be looking for such and such system.  The needs vary for each community.  The community as a whole is getting smaller and smaller, and in a few years it’s going to be harder and harder to say for sure who won.  Some people say my comments lack specific details because I throw out examples without giving specific opinions.  But as a gambler, I can assure you that my read of the situation tends to be accurate most of the time.” 

“Four years ago when the PlayStation 2 came out I did an interview with Famitsu.  And everyone was like, ‘PlayStation 2 is going to be the winner.’  My comment at the time was, ‘There’s not going to be a clear cut winner.’  Now four years later, that’s the case.   In the same way, I’m being asked a similar question, and I’m going to answer it the same way.  In four years there’s not going to be a single machine that’s the definite clear cut winner.  The entire industry as a whole is losing its power to bring people in.  It’s getting smaller and smaller here in Japan.  It’ll be a similar situation four years from now.  Obviously we don’t have the power to change the entire course of the entire Japanese game industry.  The only way to win in gambling is you have to look at the situation and look at the course and flow of things and figure out where’s your chance.  There’s no way to turn the tide. You can only make the best of the situation.  That’s why I never say in interviews that I want to change the industry or I want to revolutionize the industry.  It’s not possible.“

While Microsoft has announced Xbox 360 pricing for North America and Europe, they still have yet to announce pricing and a launch date for Japan.  Tokyo Game Show is going to be a huge target for the company, and we’re assuming that there will be a number of playable titles, and pricing addressed.  Although unconfirmed, we’re betting that all territorial launch dates will be revealed at X05 in Amsterdam this coming October. Regardless, one thing is for sure, Microsoft is serious about Japan.  They’ve addressed the hardware issue.  They’re working on the software issue.  Whether or not Japan will bite or not, as always, time will tell.

buona lettura :teach:

EDIT by Turry corretto titolo :teach:  :notooth:
« Ultima modifica: 24 Agosto, 2005, 14:00:47 da Turrican3 »


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