Xbox certainly made its feelings about its Japanese audience clear during its recent showcase, with Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer taking to the stage to make a significant pitch to players from Sony’s home country.
During the Xbox and Bethesda showcase, Spencer said that “Japan is the home to some of the most talented and well-known game creators anywhere in the world.” That came off the back of the reveal of Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty, a new game from Nioh developers Team Ninja, which is coming to Xbox game Pass at launch.
Microsoft has worked with Team Ninja in the past, most notably on the Dead or Alive fighting game series and its slightly less-SFW beach volleyball spin-offs. In more recent years, however, the developer has aligned itself more closely with Sony.
Spencer went on to say that Xbox “know[s] how important it is to our fans to bring more Japanese franchises” to the platform. To kick that process off, Microsoft announced that Persona 5 Royal , Persona 4 Golden, and Persona 3 Portable would be coming to Xbox Game Pass.
Appealing to Japanese fans even further, Spencer went on to introduce Hideo Kojima, describing him as “one of the greatest creative minds and innovators in our industry. Someone that I’ve admired for many years.” Confirming some longstanding rumours, Kojima Productions will be partnering with Xbox on an upcoming game.
That trifecta of announcements would be impressive by themselves, but having them come directly from Spencer feels particularly significant. Xbox has, understandably, lagged significantly behind Sony in Japan, a significant gaming market. As early as February 2020, well before the Xbox Series X launch, Spencer has been promising to “do a better job” in the region, and while that doesn’t appear to be extending to acquisitions, it’s clear that Microsoft is making a major play in the direction of a Japanese audience. Kojima is likely to be just the start of that process, and as supply issues have offered the Xbox Series consoles a chance to catch up, it’ll be interesting to see what each company’s next moves might be.