Microsoft Takes The Next-Gen Fight To Sony's Home Turf

Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
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Microsoft Takes The Next-Gen Fight To Sony's Home Turf

For sheer brass, you've got to hand it to Microsoft. No, really; you do. Microsoft is looking to bring this round of the next-gen fight directly to Sony by bringing the Xbox One to Japan starting September 4. It's not going to just be taking the system to Japan, of course; there's an entire 26 country bloc set to land Xbox One systems, and that's going to give the console wars a whole new round.

Microsoft brought out the word earlier today about the Japanese launch date, and that's just short of a year after the console first came out. It's also a little better than half a year since the PlayStation 4 made its own Japanese launch, one development, among several, that could come back to haunt Microsoft into its upcoming launch.

But Microsoft didn't just bring news of the launch; it also brought news of the games that would be coming along with said launch. There would be 40 such titles going in for the Xbox One in Japan, including the new installments of “Killer Instinct” and “Halo” as well as “Kingdom Hearts III.” Beyond that, Microsoft also had plans to bring the Xbox One to several other countries, as noted previously, including a large swath of Europe and bits of South America. The last reports note that Microsoft has shipped about five million Xbox One units to retailers so far, and with the launch into several new markets, that's a number that's likely to climb.

However, there's a lot going against Microsoft on this run. It's working from a position of weakness; Sony has consistently outsold Microsoft so far, and Microsoft has been impacted by plenty of negative press since last year's E3 event. That's a problem by any stretch by itself, but there's more to come. Even the PlayStation 4 hasn't exactly been doing land-office business in Japan; recent numbers put the PlayStation 4 behind the PlayStation Vita and the 3DS LL. After the early hype wore down, the PlayStation 4's sales fell off fairly rapidly, a disturbing development. What's more, Microsoft has never had the kind of respect in Japan that Sony and Nintendo have enjoyed, regarded on some fronts as little more than an amusing distraction, and sometimes viewed as outright distasteful.

There is also the critical point that a lot of Japanese gamers are moving more into mobile devices, like the PlayStation Vita and the Nintendo 3DS as somewhat noted previously. A console gaming system, for some, is the expression of an “anti-social” sort of gaming experience, the kind of thing one does largely alone even when with or against other people. Naturally, there are always exceptions, but going after the niche market isn't exactly the high road to gaming success.

Still, there are likely to be Xbox One sales, and Microsoft needs all the numbers it can get to bolster its standing with developers and keep it from suffering a fate similar to the Wii U, limping along with few available games on hand. Naturally, it's going to be a while until all the launches die down and the games start coming out in earnest, but it's still proving to be a difficult market, and one that may not be too eager to settle in and press start on a console system.

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