Microsoft is seeking to potentially expand its reach in Japan through studio acquisitions in the area, Bloomberg reports.
Several Japanese game developers, both small and large, have confirmed to Bloomberg that they have been approached by Microsoft about a potential acquisition. As the talks were private, these developers asked not to be identified and did not give details on the discussions.
When asked about the potential acquisitions in Japan, Jeremy Hinton, head of Xbox operations in Asia, said that the company was “always open to discussions with creators that are a good fit.” Hinton said that acquisitions were a possibility, but had no information to share at this time.
Beyond just acquisitions, Microsoft has also been approaching Japanese developers about releasing titles on the Xbox. Microsoft has reportedly approached Koei Tecmo on this topic, and company president Hisashi Koinuma has said he is willing to consider releasing more games on the Xbox if Microsoft shows continued interest in Japan.
And it certainly seems that Microsoft is showing significant interest in Japan. Xbox has been famously unpopular in the region historically. The Xbox One accounted for just 0.1% of console sales in Japan this year through Nov. 1, compared to 10.1% for the PS4 and 89.8% for the Switch, according to Famitsu.
The company has been seeking to break into the Japanese market in recent years, and seems to be changing its tactics. While it didn’t start selling the Xbox One in Japan until almost a year after it launched in the U.S., the Xbox Series consoles are launching in Japan on the same day as the rest of the world – and preorders in the region have been promising.
Speaking at Xbox’s Tokyo Game Show Showcase back in September, Xbox head Phil Spencer pointed to Japan as Xbox’s fastest-growing market. A part of that growing success is down to Game Pass, which became available in Japan in April and has seen “more players on Xbox devices, games, and services than at any time in our history in the market.”
“We learn from the past,” said Spencer. “And this year, we’re scaling our global vision with the goal to launch our products in Japan at the same time as the rest of the world, including our new console, which will launch day and date with our global markets.”
An additional avenue for Japanese success is the Xbox Series S. Microsoft is hoping the console will prove popular in the region, given its low price and compact size – previous Xboxes were criticised for being too large for Japanese living rooms. This may be partially why Spencer predicted that the Xbox Series S will outsell the more powerful Series X.
For any Japanese readers interested in Microsoft’s next-gen efforts, MCV/DEVELOP editor Seth Barton has described the Xbox Series X as a “brilliant balance of continuity and evolution.”