Yesterday, Phil Spencer tweeted that he will be visiting publishers and studios in Japan. It’s no secret that Xbox One has not seen strong Japanese support throughout the generation. The days of exclusive Japanese game like the Otogi franchise, Sudeki, Ninja Gaiden, Dead or Alive 4, Rumble Roses XX, Ridge Racer 6, and Beautiful Katamari are gone. Even Microsoft published games like Blue Dragon, and Lost Odyssey are non-existent anymore. Spencer’s tweet said the following: “Spending this week in Japan visiting studios and publishers, will be great to talk about games in development and get feedback on how we keep making progress with creators here.” While these words may seem like his time in Japan will be a simple trip, there’s definitely something to get excited about here.
When I went to E3 and sat in the Microsoft Theater for the company’s press conference, I witnessed a stellar briefing. While the acquisition of new studios was something to get excited about, three trailers, in particular, left a lasting impression on me. These games were Sekiro, Jump Force and Devil May Cry 5. Video games from Japanese developers rarely grace the Xbox stage. Quite frankly, while I expect Bandai Namco, From Software and Capcom to release their games on Xbox One, I expect those companies to champion PlayStation 4. It’s not because I think other consoles are better, in fact, I play Xbox One and PlayStation 4 often. I’m just accustomed to Japanese developers supporting products from their country.
When the trailers played during the conference, I lost my mind. I couldn’t help think that the old Xbox was making a comeback. This is the Xbox that was home to some of my favorite games. Exclusives like the fantastic Ninja Gaiden 2 and niche games like Record of the Agarest War were on Xbox 360. These are games that I wouldn’t expect to come to Xbox One because of how Japanese games have been handled during this generation. Even though Japanese games were in high supply on Xbox and Xbox 360, the Don Mattick era is something that fans of the brand are trying to move past. If the Xbox One reveal/launch was smoother, I believe we would have more Japanese games released in the West.
I’ve grown used to seeing Japanese games come to Switch and PlayStation 4 often, and that’s why I find myself on those consoles more than usual. I’m currently addicted to Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom and Disgaea 3, games that I can’t play on Xbox One. Why these games are not on Xbox is beyond me. Is it because Xbox One fans don’t want to play these games? Could it be because Japanese developers don’t think the games will sell well on Xbox One? We may never know, but one thing is for sure, Phil being in Japan can only be good for the brand.
It’s clear that Phil Spencer is working hard to tap into the Japanese market. This is not the first time he’s been to the country trying to work with various publishers and studios. While this may seem like a normal business trip, I think Spencer’s time in Japan will have beneficial effects this year. Let’s not forget that during last month’s Inside Xbox, Phil Spencer announced that XO18 would take place this November in Mexico City. Fans that can’t attend the actual conference will be able to watch it on Mixer. XO18 is similar to PSX, in that it’s a convention solely dedicated to Xbox. This is the first time in years that an XO convention has taken place. In previous conferences, Microsoft announced acquisitions, like when the company revealed it purchased Rare.
With XO18 taking place next month and Spencer going to Japan this week, I think the trip will have almost immediate ramifications. Will we see exclusive Japanese games come to Xbox One or will we see new third-party partnerships? During the XO18 announcement, third and first-party announcements are promised. Could there be even more studio acquisitions in the pipeline? The possibilities are limitless, but one thing is for sure, Phil Spencer is dedicated to make Xbox One the best place to play.
I used to have little faith in Phil Spencer at the start of the Xbox One lifecycle. Once Mattrick left, it took time for me to trust the Xbox brand. Constant Crackdown 3 delays and cancellations of games like Scalebound and Fable Legends had me worried. Now, I’m pumped because every time Phil Spencer gets excited about a trip or a visit with a studio, Xbox fans benefit. There’s no coincidence that his recent trip falls in line with an upcoming event that will likely have important announcements for the brand as a whole. It seems like these trips to Japan will spell great things for Xbox, and it’s time to get fired up.
Andrew Gonzalez is the Co-Editor-In-Chief of Xbox Enthusiast. When not writing about Xbox, he’s usually reading comics, talking about Taylor Swift, and dreaming of the perfect Jet Force Gemini Reboot. You can follow him on Twitter. @AJGVulture89