Xbox One Japan Launch Full Of Crickets And Empty Lines

The Xbox One finally launched in Japan on Thursday, nearly a year after its North American and limited European launch last November. The Japanese market has never been kind to Xbox consoles and reports indicate that nothing has changed with the latest console and the reception was maybe a little worse.

Both the AFP via Yahoo and The Hollywood Reporter reported that the Xbox One launch event at stores in Tokyo had more journalists than people actually buying the game. Meanwhile, Kotaku posted a series of photographs from storefronts around Japan that setup lines for the console launch. Only the lines are conspicuously absent of people actually waiting to buy the Xbox One when it launched.

Worse yet, one electronics store sales assistant told The Hollywood Reporter, “Honestly speaking, we haven’t sold a single Xbox yet today. The Xbox has never been a big-seller, but we would expect a few customers on the release day.”

Interestingly enough, despite the lack of interest of picking up an Xbox One at Japanese retailers, the 24-hour long launch marathon that was livestreamed brought in 237,000 viewers with 84 percent providing positive feedback. Perhaps, these were individuals taking a more wait and see approach? As the retailer astutely put, the Xbox has never been a big-seller in Japan despite Microsoft’s efforts to gain some kind of mind-share in the market. The Xbox 360 at least launched with titles that were made to appeal to the Japanese game consumer such as “Blue Dragon” and “Lost Odyssey” among others, not to mention getting Square Enix to agree to bring the “Final Fantasy XIII” to the console. These were huge deals but the console still barely registered in the country and Microsoft eventually turned its focus to North America and Europe. The Xbox One launch has been even more subdued in Japan with very few games created specifically to appeal to the market. So, it’s understandable that the console was met with such a tepid launch. But, it’s not just Microsoft. Sony had few Japanese-centric games for the PlayStation 4 launch earlier this year. There were still people lining up for the console, however.

This is also yet another sign of the declining home console market in Japan. The Media Create sales figures released for the week ending August 31 (via NeoGAF) continue to show that the console market is still comparatively slow and the PlayStation 4 selling less than even the Wii U and PlayStation 3 and far behind the handheld consoles in the Nintendo 3DS and PS Vita.

A large part of the reason behind the slowing home console sales in Japan is due to the rapid growth of the mobile game in Asia as a whole. A new SuperData Research report estimates that the mobile games market will reach $21 billion worldwide in 2014 with most of that growth being driven by Asian countries.

With a Japanese market that’s already negative toward the Xbox and is trending downward against home consoles, is it any wonder that Microsoft is focusing on North America and Europe while trying to open a new front in China? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

[Images via Twitter: @Katszu, @iNside, @MicrosoftJapan]