Niitsuma-san Offers His Thoughts On Why Microsoft Can’t Crack The Japanese Market

Dan Webb
It’s no secret that Microsoft are always looking to broaden their horizons. I mean, the American platform creator are even trying to worm their way into China with their beloved Xbox brand - *scoff* good luck with that!

Through all their trying and effort, success in Japan is still miles away, but why? What are they doing wrong?

Speaking to X360A last week, Ryota Niitsuma, Producer on Marvel vs. Capcom 3, said that it might just be a culture thing, but it may have something to do with the way they market their products in the region.

“It might be a cultural thing,” said Niitsuma-san, “Because after all, when a typical Japanese person hears about Sony and Microsoft – as two different brands – they tend to be able to relate to Sony a lot more than Microsoft. Microsoft is something that is just quite alien in a way.”

“When Microsoft brings something good, they tend not to really explain it,” he continued, “They say, “This is amazing! This is awesome! What do you think?” but I think Japanese consumers usually require a bit more guidance.”

“They tend to be in need of further explanation, so you have to say, “This is big and awesome! And this part is made of this and that’s why it’s good. And this could do this much things and that’s why it’s good,” and I think Sony is probably, so far, better in explaining things to the Japanese market.”

The problem may run deeper though reckons Niitsuma-san, “Obviously, that’s not going to explain everything, but there must be this Japanese thing... this American thing.”

“Perhaps what Microsoft hasn’t quite done yet is to pay attention to maybe, smaller parts,” he noted, “So relationships with retail, local events... Sony tends to do everything at the same time, whereas Microsoft do big things in fewer fields, again, it’s all my gut feelings, but that’s what I think.”

Culture issues, not truly knowing the Japanese market and being an alien seem to be holding Microsoft back in the region according to Niitsuma-san... they really ought to get that green rash looked at.

Incidentally, Niitsuma-san classes himself a hardcore gamer – with both consoles to boot – and confessed that he couldn’t get Fable 2 out of his consoles for quite some time. He told me this while being beaten at his own game by yours truly. Hey, I’m not gloating, I thought it was worth pointing out... you know, after being humiliated at E3 by the UK PR Manager... Balance is restored.
  • I don't mind this sony overrunning japan. I feel pity for japanese customers due they lack choices, but i'm fine if they simply give all the rest of the world final fantasy and other exclusive on the freacking other consoles -_-. Just go multiplatforming all the life.
  • Fair enough but I think the 'problem' lies in the fact that the Xbox doesn't have enough Jap-friendly games that I can't spell, pronounce or care to play.
  • Its the fact that Japanese people are into childish things no matter what their ages. 1% of the population are into this us brits and fellow americans are in to.
  • I would agree that it would be more of a culture thing but also it seems that when it comes to "Outside" electronics that the Japanese tend to stick to their own products that is why Sony and Nintendo always do well out there..Now I dont know about how they are selling it out there but I have watched some of those Japanese products commercials and I still dont know what they are selling lol they are so in your face and they are trying to sell simple soft drinks..ahhh what a great culture.
  • Former US company I worked for moved all european marketing offices to one office in one country. "We want one marketing stratety for europe. This system works for the north american region (2 countries US and Canada) it sure will work for europe (*koff* 40+ countries)" and now they are wondering why sales are going down. In conclusion, every country has a different culture, you can't use one strategy for worldwide. Never worked, never will.
  • #2 Look at the japanese Xbox 360 game market. All the Cave shooter are xbox 360 exclusive. Many Visual Novel are xbox 360 exclusive. So I think the titles arent the real problem.
  • "The nail that sticks out must be hammered in." This is what Japan thinks of individuality and outside ideas. While they're open to more creative things and certainly more advanced in terms of electronic production, they see a Japanese console. And an American console. And, let's face it, Microsoft isn't too respected on its own soil anyway. You people will defend MS because Sony's mentioned but the second they say "hey, this game you didn't ask for but we thought you might enjoy it is gonna be 1200 MSP," it's "M$ SUCKS 1200 is the new 800!" or you're busy insulting Natal (like I am and will keep doing). If anything, just try to see it from his point of view and, also, if you're going to include yourself in the debate, proofread your comments. For people with an opinion on Japan's acceptance of an American product, your English is atrocious.
  • I'd say thanks to M$ for at least saying: "It's awesome!" It could've been worse, if they just said: "Go buy it!" instead.
  • Sorry if i completely missed anything related to this but it doesnt hugely explain why they have Monster Hunter on the 360 and all these visual novels that i want to play :( Please give me this guys e-mail address so i can reason with him xD
  • I can see the whole culture thing going on I mean you can look at Western RPGs and Eastern RPGs (JRPGs) Take a look a the difference between a Sci-Fi RPG of Mass Effect and the Sci-Fi JRPG of Star Ocean. I just wish games such as the Tales series wouldn't have so many more extra content and games on the Sony and Nintendo platforms - curse you Bandi Namco!
  • Microsoft probably havnt succeeded in Japan because the 360 has proper games, not the crappy RPG/cutesy childish games such as Final Fantasy and Super Mario that the japs seem to love. Oh well each to their own.
  • Monster Hunter sold a lot on the 360.
  • LOL something about hunting monsters and catching them seem to really tickle Japanese peoples long as no one brings out anymore games with a damn card system!!!
  • Sony and Nintendo succeed in Japan because they're Japanese companies. Most Japanese consumers aren't willing to give their hard earned money away to a bunch of foreigners. It's the same with cars over there too - very few foreign cars. Microsoft will never succeed there, and they should give up trying.
  • I know where the west went wrong... Master Chief should have been a girl with long blond hair. Cortana should have worn a school uniform and micro skirt that showed off her pants. The Covenant should have lived in pagodas and been samuri. Marcus Fenix and Dom needed long hair and to look alot more like 10 year old girls. Locust should have been like oversized angry veg.... and showed there pants. Both games need to be dragged out, turn based, have alot move phallic symbols, pants on show and have guns do damage of 20 bazzillon, magic should do a hell of a lot more.... I say to hell with them, the japanees market hasnt moved on from the late 80 early 90s,
  • #16 Hell I would buy them if they were like that. You can never have enough micro skirts with pants on show!!
  • #16. You're right. I can't stomach some of confused emo-bi-curious protagonists named Rainbow..... as well as the loud, temper-tantrumed female characters who are 22 but act 10. There's just a large cultural difference. I personally felt that those kids in Lost Ody. were tantamount to Jar Jar Binks in Star Wars-Episode 1...they sucked.
  • lol @16 amen to that i truely think thats all their about japanimation themes and what not, i dont think it matters that much anymore let sony control japan they need it since their products are so horrible.. i own both systems and will tell you right now they may do things right for japan but their best game could never be even close to what halo or gears is and for me you would have to do at least just as good as halo to get my attention and its just not enough for me to stop using my ps3 only to watch blu-rays i have played ps3's best titles and can tell you they seem like low budget products compared to M$'s power titles so with out jumping too much off topic i say let japan do what they feel
  • ive been to japan they got some crazy ads, if bungie put some childish shit in halo japan would really like it, halo is awesome by the way
  • wow you guys just reminded me of that game blue dragon and i must say i started getting into it towards the end of the 1st disc but i will also say it took alot of tolerance to watch these characters bitch and whine the whole time along which just acknowledges all the comments about japs culture being childish I DONT WANT CHILDISH GAMING I WANT MATURE GAMING THANK YOU VERY MUCH
  • wait... in the fifth paragraph did Ryota Niitsuma basically say that the Japanese need to be told what to like? "...but I think Japanese consumers usually require a bit more guidance.”
  • #16 hahahaha that would look so funny
  • Screw them what have they done for us other then give us Nintendo(I think) if they want a Jewish Japanese game they can have Naruto!!!!
  • Insulting other cultures. That's...very closeminded of you. Especially 16. If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. Still, I guess if we're bitching about cultural differences, then I'll join in. I don't see what's so great about overly manly men who are built like brick shithouses, who come off more as homosexual than manly when they're always surrounded by a bunch of other sweaty, muscly, grunting marines. And I guess there's no brains either with these pew-pew-pew games with their constant shooting and little story (that HAS to be fleshed out with a graphic novel) and fuck all variety. I guess if a game has to be successful in the west, it'd have to be painted brown/grey/black and everyone has to be able to bench press 3 elephants without breaking a sweat. Oh, and token black guy/girl. And a love interest.
  • @20 At least they didn't create the go compare adverts anyway what's the whole thing about them needing guidance isn't it like calling them 5 year olds.
  • I would have thought it was more to do with the Japanese being very xenophobic than anything.
  • Sorry about double post but they Japanese should just stick to Kancho(sticking eachothers fingers up there but) LoL its really a game in Japan.
  • @25 its not closed minded its fact. I loved it all in the 90,it was fresh and alternate to our eyes and as i said they havent moved on since then. I have. I saw no man on man action in these games, No guys walking about with there tops off compairing sizes or anything like that, if camaraderie and male bonding is homosexual thats your issue.
  • Oh, then what I said was fact aswell. And nobody has to be walking around with their tops off or anything like that to come of as homosexual. You just see so many games like that and you just start to think there's something more to it all. Everything doesn't have to be blatant to understand it. Apparantly you wouldn't think someone was gay unless they were getting it on with another guy in the showers.
  • @29 lolllll you saved me the trouble...but lemme guess that guy is jap? well if so ill say theres probably a few ignorant comments here but like kalabos says i too have lacked to see any game with these kinda references, i mean obviously you must be talking about halo or gears when you say things like "marines" or "muscly" and if i recall theres no "gay" acts in these games... i guess my opinion though is that thanks to these shooters im not stuck with one type of game..i remember a day when all i would play was brawlers and fighting games cause there was no other genres so maybe your the typical RPG only guy #25
  • @#16 It's not possible to make a fair judgment of other cultures while you are part of a culture yourself. If you try to do so and call it factual, than that is close minded of you. @#25 First you call him close minded for insulting other cultures, then you not only insult a culture yourself but also make yourself look like a homophobic. That seems a little bit hypocrite to me.
  • @32 Are you saying that if these games were japan made they would not have one or more of these things in it. MS can sink as moch money as they have in Japan but they will never break it not eaven with Natal or what ever.
  • love my spelling
  • @#33 No I'm not saying that. They are a different culture with a different art style so it's very likely these games would have looked different. But look at PES or the Metal Gear-series for example. These games are Japanese made, but I don't see any of your stereotypes in those games. It's not like they can only make games with 'typical' Japanese elements in it.
  • the arcade culture is still massive in japan also, so why spend out big bucks on your own console when you can go down an arcade and be sociable in kicking ass at street fighter many arcades in this country have newly released games?
  • I'm English, btw. #32 Oh, no, don't get me wrong. If you knew me in real life, you'd know I'm no homophobe; all I was doing was the same as #16 - that is, taking a biased and single-minded view of a culture. It was a stupid frame of mind for him to have without understanding someone else's culture or at least keeping an open mind. It's very insensitive to come out with something like that.
  • i Know fine there is alot more to the japaneese culture that you very much. I love other aspects of the culture,especiialy old world japan. japaneese movies particularly akira kurosawa, Godzilla, used to be mad for DBZ, silent hill, rez evil, street fighter and such but you cannot deny currently culturaly there games are generaly the as stated. They are a long way from the proud noble empire they used to be...
  • Pedophilia = Japanese games. Little boys dressed in girls clothing.
  • The guys right, it is simple as there is a japanese culture an american culture. I know people who like japanese games and anime,and people who absouletely hate it. As simply as i can put it its two cultures and the japs love over the top crazy ass shit like dbz and hell i like anime and FF and there rpg games. I also like american shooters, but in general, americans are linear (not the games) they just try what has been sold before, what sells? The americans will just produce it over and over again. Anything that shoots. And there comedy films wow, americans you say us english people arent funny? Wow, is all i can say, you go for the most basic joke.
  • @16 Best explanation ever :D
  • Loyalty plays a key role here as well, let's not forget the Japanese are proud honorable people so for them to be filling M$ pockets with there cash not only is being disloyal to Sony & Nintendo but is also lowering there economical status too!
  • Perhaps they need to be more extreme in their explanations of their games like the jap dude says. "This game is extreme - but here's the reason why it's extreme! Look here - extremification amplified!! - to the max!!! Explainified! WOAAAHHH" Maybe that'll help. More cool words.
  • @ 1, A lot of games get released on the 360 in Japan that everyone else will never see or play if you have a Japanese Xbox. So I don't know what your saying when you say you pity them.
  • Meant to say unless you have a Japanese Xbox.
  • It's really sad to see other people talk about another county in such a way as this. You guys might continue to suggest that most Japs are children because they like I quote "10 year old games" and yet don't realize that you lot are acting like children yourselves. OT: Keep trying Microsoft, you'll get there in the end :).
  • Sad, that there are so many people who badmouth a culture they absolutely don't understand. At leas we can guess the japanese make similiar fun of the western cultures (talking US and UK now) when every second game is a shooter where the hero rescues the world from an evil russian-, chinese-, nazi-, north korean government, etc. or our western hero single handedly defeats an entire alien race.
  • don't the japs just enjoy animated characters with massive breasts?
  • I have never been to Japan but my friend hosted Japanese exchange students several years in a row. This was over 10 years ago so things may have changed since then. According to the exchange students Japanese are very proud and loyal to their country and products. They will buy something made there before anywhere else every time. Most countries are more willing to buy their own than go somewhere else, which is why America's economy is shit and getting worse, no matter what anyone in our "great" government says. IMHO the culture some see as childish is a product of needing an outlet for the extremely strict laws and upbringing. In America you can go outside and bash the President and not much can be done about it due to our Bill of Rights. If you were a Japanese and tried doing something like that about their Prime Minister you'd be tossed in jail or worse. Our school system here is mandatory and everyone has a right to an education, in Japan, you have to go through rigorous testing in order to even be considered to goto anything above what is considered elementary school here. From how I understand it, life in Japan is more harsh than any of us can even consider so might want to learn a little bit more facts about a culture before you go bashing it it up and down.
  • @#49 This site definitely needs more people like you. I didn't expect they would be that strict in Japan.
  • “When Microsoft brings something good, they tend not to really explain it,” This is something MS does, and it's something that really really irritates about them. "Buy this new thing that we made because it's totally the coolest thing ever made! Why? Because we say so!" And @49. Amen to you sir. Amen.
  • @49 I think you hit the nail my friend I personally actually like Sony product whenever I can get it.....I bought a 360 because a lot of my friends already bought em and I like to play a lot of MP online stuff. Microsoft kind of sucks, as an American I feel no loyalty towards them as an American company. Maybe it's all the different Windows versions that have sucked, or that I have experienced E74, but it seems like Sony does put care and effort into customer service and their product. If Sony was an American company, I'd probably never buy anything electronic but Sony.
  • They cant crack the japanesse market bc japan sucks and xbox rocks hard
  • I can see the Culture difference. I LOVE RPGs. But.... I hate Final Fantasy. I hate Eastern RPGs. I don't understand them. I don't get them. I've tried! Its like trying to learn a whole new language. Don't get me wrong, Final Fantasy games have excellent game play (And outstanding graphics), but I'm completely lost in the loud story and strange girl-like men with terrible outfits. Its very foreign to me. Its a complete fantasy with no semblance of the real world. It gives me nothing to emotionally latch onto or even care about. I was so hyped for the last Final Fantasy Game until I saw the cinematic trailer....So disappointing. Its why I follow developers who can make a product I can understand and stick to Western RPGs.
  • @1 agreed
  • @35, one word: Raiden... nuff said.
  • All these comments make for great reading. Thats it, nothing to add. Apart from Anime is indeed pervy. Good pervy :)
  • I like Western-RPGs for the straight-up action and JRPGs for the story, depth and general over-ridiculous...ness of them. Lost Odyssey and Fallout 3 are some of my favourite all time games yet they are worlds apart. What you gonna do? (P.S Nier is freakin' hilariously bad that is good. Buy it. Now.)
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