Nippon Ichi President: Xbox isn’t supportive of Japanese developers
In a news flash that doesn’t surprise anyone, Nippon Ichi Software America president Takuro Yamashita says that Microsoft isn’t supportive of Japanese game makers. Cue your shocked gasps.
In an interview with MCV, the Nippon Ichi President said this:
Honestly speaking, Microsoft’s approach to Japanese games hasn’t been very supportive. Microsoft, you know, for Japanese games, there’s still a very niche element to them, no matter what it might be.
One major reason why Japanese developers have been shunned away from Xbox platforms in Japan, Yamashita says, is that Microsoft has a minimum order quantity for Xbox One games that publishers must follow. With Japanese developers like Nippon Ichi making their name off niche, low-overall selling in terms of copies but still profitable games, this is a burden.
Microsoft also has a minimum order quantity for their games, and their whole structure isn’t really geared toward niche games or smaller games like Japanese titles, so they’re not really supportive of Japanese games or developers.
Sadly, ever since the introduction of the original Xbox Microsoft has misunderstood the Japanese market. There is the infamous story of Microsoft courting Shinji Mikami in Japan as the Resident Evil creator looked to consoles not named PlayStation 2 for Resident Evil 4 and how Microsoft’s American approach to Japanese game development rubbed the RE creator the wrong way. RE4 would of course go onto become a timed GameCube exclusive and not appear on an Xbox platform until several years later.
Nippon Ichi releases smaller JRPGs, usually on PS Vita, PS3 and PS4. This year they have seen huge success with Disgaea 5 on the Switch, adding Nintendo’s console to their stable of devices they support.
Other than a blip on the radar in 2006-2009 when the Xbox 360 received good Japanese support, its hard to argue against what Yamashita has said. 2017 has been especially damaging to the Xbox brand as rival platforms (PS4, Switch) received loads of stellar Japanese-designed games while the Xbox One didn’t. Yakuza Zero & Kiwami, Nier Automata, Persona 5, NiOh, Kingdom Hearts 1.5 + 2.5 HD Collection and others have shown that there is a Japanese gaming renaissance happening.
Sadly, its going to take a lot more than sales numbers to reverse this cultural divide for the Xbox brand.