Japan’s Publishers ‘Need Xbox’, Says Former Sony Exec
In a report published by Bloomberg, Mena Sato Kato, the ex-Sony VP who joined Xbox as the Director of Partnerships (Japan) back in September, made a stunning claim. She stressed that Japanese game publishers ‘definitely need’ Xbox to succeed in expanding their businesses and that they cannot do that if they’re relying solely on PlayStation.
For years, Xbox has been an underperforming force in Japan – at least until recently. During the Tokyo Game Show, Phil Spencer took to the stage to explain how the Xbox brand was seeing stunning growth in the Asian markets, which of course includes Japan. It came with a caveat, though – a lot of the success is driven by the presence of Game Pass’ PC offering, which still doesn’t mean much for Xbox as a core brand.
Japanese publishers will definitely need us in expanding their business. It would be difficult to do that just with the PlayStation.
‘Us’ refers to Xbox, which Kato joined in September 2023, coming across from Sony, where she held the positions of VP of Mobile Business and VP of Business Development. Since joining the firm, she has reportedly aligned closely with Sarah Bond, the new President of Xbox, to bring the tech titan closer to the many Japanese game studios that are actively creating some of the most highly-anticipated titles in the world.
Recent statistics show that only 500,000 Xbox Series X|S consoles have been sold in Japan since launch, compared to almost 5 million PlayStation 5 consoles – and around 31 million units of the Nintendo Switch.
In a damning statement, Kenji Fukuyama, an analyst at UBS Securities, said:
Microsoft offers huge scalability to Japanese publishers as there’s virtually no country without Windows PCs. When it comes to access to game fans in emerging countries, Sony and Nintendo just can’t compete with Xbox.
It’s a challenging landscape, which Kato admits, but the team is willing to give it their all to expand into the Asian markets even more as time goes on.