Japan is currently the fastest growing market for Xbox, with a strong uptake in the country for Xbox Series X|S consoles and a growing collection of independent developers creating for Xbox consoles.
Talking to IGN Japan, Xbox’s head of the Asia region, Jeremy Hinton, said “Japan is our fastest growing market worldwide.”
“We've seen phenomenal growth within this last twelve months in Japan,” he continued. “And that's new people coming into our ecosystem, that's people signing up for Game Pass, that's people buying accessories or games on PC. So we're seeing really phenomenal growth coming out of Japan to be top of that list for us.”
Hinton notes that this growth is, in a high percentage, coming from Japanese players who have never owned an Xbox before. “There is no doubt that the demand is absolutely growing in Japan, and I see that in the data that I can see, we have a really high percentage of consoles being bought by people who have never owned Xbox consoles in the past,” he said. “And the next segment of consumers buying consoles are upgrading from Xbox 360, which was quite a successful generation for us in Japan. So we're seeing strong leading indicators in terms of us reaching new people. Demand is certainly higher, we see stock sell out within minutes.”
In contrast to the US and western tastes, the smaller, less powerful Xbox Series S appears to be the more popular Microsoft offering in Japan. “I think that we are seeing stronger demand for the Series S in Japan,” said Hinton. He noted that the price made it attractive, but also offered anecdotal evidence of it being popular due to its size. “I've certainly seen a lot of people sharing their new console purchases on Twitter talking about how cute and small and appealing that is for a lot of people. So we're definitely seeing stronger demand for that.”
As well as increased consumer demand for Xbox products, Hinton says that developer interest is also increasing. “We've got more Japanese-developed content in our ecosystem now than we've had at any point within our history,” he said. He also noted the Xbox’s growing popularity in Japan’s indie scene. “I think we have more development kits with independent developers in Japan than we've ever had in our history before, and there's a lot of talent and a growing independent scene in Japan,” he said.
All this contributes to making Japan one of the priority regions for Microsoft’s first-party localisation. “Microsoft Games Studios' first-party commitment is full localization for an important market like Japan,” Hinton explained. “That's our commitment moving forward, and that is a change from what we've done historically, where it's been made on an individual title-by-title basis. But we recognise for people to feel like a community and for us to grow into new places, we want to ensure a level of commitment and understanding.”
Hinton notes that localisation is proven to improve player numbers, noting that Microsoft saw a “direct lift” in the number of Japanese players jumping into Sea of Thieves following its localisation. [LINK]