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Xbox Outsells PS5 in Japan? Maybe It Can With Anime Power!

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Xbox Outsells PS5 in Japan? Maybe It Can With Anime Power!

Console Wars is a name that has become synonymous with the late 2010s. It was when new lifelong fans were made, and old ones were lost. The three most prominent players in the market were Nintendo, PlayStation, and, last but not least, Xbox. While many will now say that after the dust settled, there were no victors, they would be lying as Sony came out of the wars as the console-exclusive king, and Nintendo Dominated the later years with the switch. On the other hand, Xbox was dealt a blow that halted all of its momentum due to the release of the original Xbox One. This was the scenario when the next-gen consoles were released, and while Sony and Nintendo might still be kings of the console market, the winds have begun to shift. Xbox is making a comeback, but will it be able to succeed, and will Xbox be able to dethrone Playstation in its homeland like Sony did to it? Find all about it in the following deep dive into Xbox and its redemption arc.

[Image: xbox_outsells_ps5_in_japan-8_to_9th_gen_consoles-1.jpg]
Figure 1. New Gen Consoles

Table of Contents
  1. The Failure of the Xbox One
  2. Xbox Series X and Game Pass in Japan
  3. Acquisition of Development studios and Censorship
  4. The Future and Beyond

The Failure of the Xbox One


Looking back on the launch of the Xbox One wonders how they could not see the massive red flags, from the lack of game sharing to limited game support to the abandonment of Xbox 360 games. Microsoft was indeed riding the enormous success of the Xbox 360 as it was a time it was hailed as the best console in existence. For good reasons, too, as it had the most active and prominent multiplayer community alongside games that defined generations. But alas, Microsoft would strip the Xbox One of all of its features and even block you from sharing games. While this helped reduce the cost of production, it was not worth it in the long run, as Sony and Nintendo would both capitalize on the downfalls by marketing to the faults of the Xbox One. Which gave us the now iconic PlayStation 4 game-sharing ad. While Xbox would fix itself with further updates and releases, the damage was done, and Sony was able to out-sell Xbox in its own homeland.

[Image: xbox_outsells_ps5_in_japan-first_xbox-2.jpg]
Figure 2. Failed Xbox One

Xbox didn’t accept it, and so after the release of Xbox One X, they tried their hand at penetration of the Japanese market base since it was considered to have the most loyal fans ever. Xbox tried its first real push in the late 2010s by marketing its games with anime aesthetics and even creating some licensed games for anime. Sadly around that time, Nintendo was ready to unveil something that would change the gaming market forever, the Nintendo Switch. The release of the new console rocketed Nintendo to the top by even beating out Sony’s PlayStation in only a couple of years. Xbox, while not succeeding in its endeavor, learned a lesson from this that would help them start a revolution of their own in the gaming industry.



Xbox Series X and Game Pass in Japan


[Image: xbox_outsells_ps5_in_japan-xbox_anime_games-3.jpg]
Figure 3. Anime Xbox Games


Xbox Series X was a massive boost for the company as it managed to perform better than its previous console, but the most astonishing development was the release of the Xbox Game Pass for Xbox console and PC. It was a subscription-based model that allowed you to play a variety of games without actually buying them. This model was quite well-liked in the gaming market and especially in Japan. While the success was unprecedented, we can see in the sales that the PS5 was still selling more. Much of those sales, however, were from scrapers who would buy the systems in bulk and then resell them at thousands. Covid also impacted sales as the entire global supply chain was lost. But Covid also helped with the mass adoption of the game pass as you could easily buy it once a month and enjoy all the games without having to order one online or buy from the expensive digital marketplace.

Figure 4. Anime fication of Xbox

Japan was also part of the majority that adopted the game pass due to the level of localization support Xbox was providing for its players. It also helped that Xbox would soon make arrangements for some of the most famous Japanese games to come onto the platform. Game Pass even gave niche indie games massive visibility. Xbox would also start to market its content again with anime aesthetics, a prime example being Hi-Fi Rush, a recently released game that, despite not having anime-like graphics, used anime aesthetics and artwork for inspiration. And it worked as the game sold quite well and even became one of the most popular games released this quarter. However, victories such as these are pretty small when one compares the massive market share of Sony and Nintendo. Xbox also realized this and did something nobody saw coming.



Acquisition of Development studios and Censorship


[Image: xbox_outsells_ps5_in_japan-xbox_market_share-5.jpg]
Figure 5. New Gen Console Market Share

One thing we need to realize before continuing is the fact that out of all the three central console developers, Xbox is the only one that is funded by one of the worlds leading technology companies, Microsoft. Xbox has finally gotten serious and done the unthinkable as it bought Bethesda and Obsidian Entertainment. Yes, Xbox just bought the rights to the Elders Scrolls and Fallout Franchise and made them console exclusive. Following this, they have now finalized the deal to buy Activision Blizzard, and if this deal goes through, Xbox will have some of the most popular games as its exclusive. To put it simply, this is a game changer. Xbox, with two simple deals, has changed the market and expanded its market share.

[Image: xbox_outsells_ps5_in_japan-xbox_market_share-6.jpg]
Figure 6. New Gen Consoles Market Sale Comparison

It has also made deals with Atlas Japan to port and localize its game4s, which brought us the massively famous Persona 5 Royal and Persona 3 Remake from the Game Pass. Sony is now losing momentum in Japan as it has all but abandoned it for North American sales. Sony is also now enforcing massive bans on Japanese products to make them more attractive to the American population.  While censorship is acceptable, as the game industry has dealt with it for years, Sony is now even changing entire game story scripts to ensure that they do not contain anything offensive, which helped them appeal to the North American population. Sony has also started to distance itself from the anime art styles of the 2000s to be more acceptable to a larger audience. It also led to the abandonment of some of the most beloved anime game series ever. This can easily be seen in the release of Final Fantasy 16 and the massively popular anime JRPG series Legen of the Heros. Sony not only changed the dialogue but also changed some scenes, which is highly disrespectful to the Japanese creators. Nintendo is also not doing good; due to its family-friendly image, it can not support such games.

[Image: xbox_outsells_ps5_in_japan-xbox_exclusiv...game-7.jpg]
Figure 7. Xbox Exclusive Anime Game

On the other hand, Xbox has already started to focus on localizing new and old games to bring more ease of access to their players. It also doesn’t face the brand image problem that Nintendo has due to posing a more rebellious and fun image in the minds of fans. Xbox has also started to embrace the anime lifestyle as it now ports over some of the most classic anime games from the 2000s, and it even allows players to play some exclusive anime games for the Xbox 360, such as Naruto Rise of A Ninja. While stuff like censorship might seem small in the short run, it will have massive repercussions if they keep disrespecting the creative work of Japanese game developers; then they will just jump platforms and go to one that actually respects them.

[Image: xbox_outsells_ps5_in_japan-ps5_bundle-8.jpg]
Figure 8. Final Fantasy 16 PS5 Marketing

That being said, Xbox does need to change one significant aspect of its marketing if they want to tap into the Japanese gaming market. That aspect being the way Japanese audiences perceive the product, it is no secret that many people love anime, and it is doubly so in its homeland. This is why whenever Sony markets their exclusive games to the Japanese audience, they show the anime part of it on the front cover, as seen with their recent Final Fantasy 16 marketing. So Xbox will have to follow this strategy to push into the Japanese market, and it can easily do this by either making original anime games with its multiple studios or buying an already prominent game development studio in Japan to help them advertise the Xbox to anime gamers, and if they are successful with the conversion they will have a strong foothold in the market as anime gamers are the most loyal fans out there if treated right.



The Future and Beyond


[Image: xbox_outsells_ps5_in_japan-xbox_in_japan-9.jpg]
Figure 9. Xbox in Japan


Xbox has reached equilibrium as it continues to grow by slowly taking the gaming market inch by inch. And the new acquisition will only help; Sony and Nintendo might try to fight it, but now it seems both can not stop the force Xbox is turning into. It also is quite a shame for Sony as the Xbox has now started to take the Japanese gaming market by simply providing a better product while respecting the people who made the games. An example of their market takeover is that the highly anticipated remake of Persona 3 will come to the Xbox game pass on Day 1. The market is finally changing after years of stagnation, and we as gamers can’t wait to see where this new direction takes us, and hopefully, with Xbox, we will once again see the rise of the anime gaming market. Amongst all this, there is also a rumor that SEGA might be helping Xbox enter the Japanese market. But all is not set in stone, as Sony still holds dominion over most of the gaming market, and Nintendo is also close to releasing its new console. It seems like the console wars are about to start again, but unlike last time, Xbox is ready and will win its first victory by dominating the Japanese gaming market because they got the power of anime on their side.

[Image: xbox_outsells_ps5_in_japan-xbox_and_sega-10.jpg]
Figure 10. Xbox and SEGA


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