Aside from exporting videos that have been known to cause night terrors (video NSFW on account of dancing eagles-men/acid flashbacks), Japan is known for its love of video games. Thus, the thought of its large, eager consumer base leaves designers and gaming tycoons positively aflutter, gleeful at the thought of penetrating the Japanese market. Nintendo has enjoyed a long history with the country, and Sony's PSP, while sometimes derided on this side of the Pacific, has tapped into Japan's flourishing handheld gaming market.
Then there's Microsoft. The 360 has never done tremendously well in Japan, with Sony and Nintendo maintaining a firm dominance over their Western peers - never mind that Microsoft lacks the aforementioned benefit of a handheld system. Moreover, it has taken roughly six years for Microsoft to sell 1.5 million units. Against this dreary backdrop, Microsoft's European boss, Chris Lewis, shared some rather optimistic thoughts on the future of the 360 with Eurogamer:
Nintendo, particularly with the Wii, have opened up a market opportunity there. We've leapfrogged that handheld technology with Kinect. What we're seeing is users love using their own body without worrying about how to work a controller. So we see ourselves as, frankly, a company that does bring an awful lot of firsts, and we've enjoyed fabulous success with Kinect.
The remarks come in response to recent 360 sales figures in Japan. Edge Magazine reports that Microsoft's home console has seen a 36.7% decline in sales, compared to this time last year. While the PS3 has seen a 17.1% decline, sales of the system have dwarfed that of the 360, with Sony selling 735,637 units - far above Microsoft's 72,721. More worrying, according to Edge, is that major retailers are cutting down on their 360 stock, with Yamada Denki, one of the lead retailers in consumer electronics, "removing hardware and software from the majority of its stores nationwide," save for those locations in which the system has enjoyed some success. So is the 360 on its way out? It's a bit early to say, but the signs are less than encouraging. I've never quite thought of the Kinect as a system seller, so I can't see it being the 360's saving angel of grace.