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Microsoft reaffirms commitment to Japanese market

Speaking at the Xbox 360 press conference in Tokyo, Microsoft Japan's Xbox division manager Takashi Sensui declared that 2006 will be "the stepping stone" to Microsoft's inevitable success in the region, spearheaded by the Xbox 360.

Speaking at the Xbox 360 press conference in Tokyo, Takahashi Sensui, Microsoft Japan's Xbox division manager, has declared that 2006 will be "the stepping stone" to Microsoft's inevitable success in the region.

According to US website Gamespot, which translated the conference, Sensui's opening speech began with an affirmation of his confidence in the capabilities of the Xbox 360 and the company's ability to perform well in the territory.

"Since the launch of the original Xbox in 2002, there was one thing that we have consistently said: Microsoft will inevitably succeed in Japan," Sensui stated, adding: "The Xbox 360 is not just the only next-generation console available in the market, but it will also continue to be the best console for years to come."

Japanese sales of the new console have been sluggish to say the least, and it was the only territory that didn't sell out at launch in December, despite having a much lower initial supply than both America and Europe. As with the original Xbox, Microsoft is having to work exceptionally hard to convince Japanese consumers to purchase their machine, rather than holding out for Sony's PS3.

Conscious of the need for quality games to help drive sales, Sensui showed the packaging for Testsuya Mizuguchi's long awaited Ninety-Nine Nights, assuring the press that it will be released on April 20th following numerous quality control delays. He also stated that there have been 25 games released for the platform since its December debut, and this number is expected to grow to around 40 games by summer - doubling to around 80 by the end of the year.

Stressing the importance of the Xbox Live service in growing the community in Japan, Sensui commented that 95 per cent of consumers had accessed the Xbox Live Marketplace, with 520,000 downloads recorded to date. The company has reached new agreements with Namco Bandai Games, Konami, SNK Playmore, Hudson, Yukes and D3 Publisher to bring a slew of new content to the Xbox Live Arcade service, and there is also a range of additional Marketplace content planned - such as an eight minute trailer for Tatsunoko production's 40th anniversary commemorative anime film, Karas.

"Xbox Live, which we have been operating since three years ago, has developed into a service that expands the user community for the Xbox 360," Sensui stated. "We plan to continuously make new additions to its capabilities. The Xbox 360 and Xbox Live will keep on evolving, and together, they will continue to be the best gaming platform."

Reminding the conference attendees of comments made by the company's worldwide Xbox division manger, Peter Moore, Sensui stated: "Microsoft believes that it isn't a true success unless we succeed in the Japanese gaming market. We will be fully committed to the Japanese market. As everyone may know, the Xbox 360 has taken the European and American markets by storm. As the chief of Japan's Xbox division, it will be my duty to realize the same kind of success, here in Japan."

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