It’s not a mystery that Xbox One doesn’t get all that many Japanese games. It’s not only the one console on the market that is from a company based outside of Japan, but with 96,371 units sold in the country in almost four years, its hold on the Japanese market is negligible, discouraging many local developers from releasing games on the platform.
Yet, there certainly are voices among the Xbox fanbase that demand more Japanese games. It’s difficult to put a finger on what kind of percentage of Xbox fans are interested in JRPGs and similar titles, but you often see many asking Division Head Phil Spencer on social media when the console is going to get more Japanese games, or whether any are going to appear at this or that upcoming event.
To his credit, Spencer has been trying, often seemingly against the odds, going as far as traveling to Japan himself to meet with developers and publishers in order to convince them to release their games on Xbox One. That’s certainly not an attempt to regain lost ground (at least for this generation) from the local market, but to please western gamers that enjoy Japanese games, and to preserve ties with the development teams of the rising sun.
The era of big exclusives for Xbox 360 coming from Japanese developers is long past, but we have still seen results with relevant Japanese titles presented on Microsoft’s stage at E3 year after year. This includes Devil May Cry 5, Jump Force, Tales of Vesperia Definitive Edition, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, and more.
Yet, if fans of the platform want those efforts to continue in earnest, and for third-party publishers to be receptive, they need to buy the games.
Today, NieR: Automata was finally released on Xbox One with the Become As Gods Edition, and it’s the perfect chance for Xbox gamers to show Microsoft and publishers that they really do want high-profile Japanese games. Proving it is relatively simple: all you need to do is to speak with your wallet.
I can’t blame Xbox fans for leaving titles like Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet or D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die on the shelves. Most are enjoyable but not exactly groundbreaking, while others have a very, very niche appeal. Don’t get me wrong: you probably know that I encourage supporting niche games basically at every corner I turn, but I don’t expect people to take stores by storm for them.
Even big titles like Final Fantasy XV — which I and many others love — do not enjoy universal critical praise or require a large time investment in a genre that is unfamiliar to many nowadays, so it’s unsurprising that they still struggle to sell like hotcakes on Xbox One.
Yet, NieR: Automata does enjoy near-unanimous acclaim, and thanks to its characters, story, and fantastic action gameplay, it reached cult status almost effortlessly when it released last year. It’s even relatively cheap ($49.99) and comes with all the DLC in a nice, convenient package.
Basically, you have no excuse on this one, dear Xbox fans. If you want to prove that you want more Japanse games, and want Microsoft and third-party publishers to keep following through on that demand, you need to show them that it’s a viable business venture. Miss this opportunity, and you’ll provide more convenient ammunition to those who argue that launching JRPGs on Xbox One is an exercise in futility and developers should focus their resources on other, more profitable platforms.
Of course, this isn’t the only reason why you should grab the game while it’s hot: it’s a masterpiece, so you’ll probably enjoy it a lot, but consider this a nice added bonus. It’s also a good way to savor some great PlatinumGames action at its finest, after the unfortunate cancellation of Scalebound and the transition of the Bayonetta franchise as a Nintendo exclusive.
To be fair, this probably isn’t the last chance you have: games like Kingdom Hearts III, Valkyria Chronicles 4, Shining Resonance Refrain, One Piece: World Seeker, Dead or Alive 6, Soul Calibur VI, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, and more are still coming down the line. Whether NieR: Automata sells well or not, there will probably always be Japanese publishers who timidly put some of their games on Xbox platforms, and Microsoft is likely not to give up, but this is an important opportunity to send a positive signal while enjoying a fantastic title.
If you want more variety and Japanese flavor in the Xbox One lineup, you may want not to miss this train.