Fries: Japan was a bit negative over the original Xbox

Saturday, 30th October 2010 19:20 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

directx box

Former Xbox boss Ed Fries has said the original Xbox console was met with a bit of hostility in Japan.

Speaking with Develop, the way Fries relays the brick wall Microsoft hit in Japan with its new console, it’s a wonder it was even released over there at all. Thankfully, the design team make the controller smaller for the region, and instead of the console being colored black, it had more of smokey tint.

“The first Xbox controller was built internally at Microsoft’s gaming peripheral group, who at the time had made things like the SideWinder joystick,” he said. “They had a controller they made for PC gaming, so they took on the job and we didn’t pay that much attention to what they were doing.

“Honestly, when the first controller came out, our group didn’t give a lot of feedback on it. We didn’t have a lot of experience on controllers anyway, so we didn’t have an issue with the prototype. But when I went to Japan to show the console, man, they really had a problem with it. I was told a number of crazy things, like the controller should weigh the same as water in your hands.

“We heard all kind of negative things from Japan, like we couldn’t use the name Xbox because ‘X’ means death, and the console couldn’t be black, because that also was the color of death. The first Xbox consoles we released in Japan weren’t black, in fact, they were a smokey color – but I was always thinking to myself, ‘hang on, isn’t the PS2 black?!’

“But in the end, it made sense that we’d make a smaller controller for Japan because, yeah sure, it was just way too big for their hands. That’s where the ‘S’ controller came from. Problem was that when people internally started playing with the ‘S’ controller, everyone preferred it to the massive one – but it was too late by then, we were set for launch.”

Fries goes on to chat about changing the name of the console from DirectX Box to just Xbox – much to the chagrin of the marketing team who didn’t want ‘X’ anywhere in the name – and how the whole look of the console changed from literally an ‘X’ to the massive brick we all have sitting in our media closets now.

It’s a rather good read. Get the full thing through the link up top.



  1. Erthazus

    and it’s still negative. The only reason it sold 1 million from the start because:

    1) Sony did a really bad job with it’s pricing

    2) Microsoft bought a lot of JP studios to make them JRPG when Sony just introduced PS3 to JP.

    #1 4 years ago
  2. OrbitMonkey

    “The controller needs to feel like water in your hands” Translation: Fuck you yankee we invented gaming & you & your big black gaigin piece of shit can go jump of mount Fuji!”

    A few years later…

    “Erm hi guys… Er show us how to make good games please?”

    #2 4 years ago
  3. Michael O’Connor

    “Fries: Japan was a bit negative over the original Xbox.”

    REALLY?! No way! Surely you jest!

    Little has changed since. Xenophobic country is xenophobic.

    #3 4 years ago
  4. NoxNoctisUmbra

    Japan is xenophobic? sure… they only know whats best..

    Even Microsoft did not believe in Xbox, they cut it as soon Xbox 360 was released. Microsfot treated Xbox as a Beta to see how will people respond to it.

    #4 4 years ago
  5. Michael O’Connor

    “Japan is xenophobic?”

    Are you kidding?

    #5 4 years ago
  6. choochoo

    Japan are still bitter after losing the War and getting there ass served on a plate they need to forget the past.

    #6 4 years ago
  7. NoxNoctisUmbra

    You two are funny

    #7 4 years ago
  8. Michael O’Connor

    @7 And why is that?

    Although choochoo’s ignorance and disrespect for history is just sad.

    #8 4 years ago
  9. OrbitMonkey

    Xenophobic or not, their porn is fucking awful o_O

    #9 4 years ago
  10. OlderGamer

    jp is a joke nowa days anyhow. We don’t need them and they couldn’t careless – they will just go and make more handheld games and systems.

    #10 4 years ago
  11. NoxNoctisUmbra

    And O’Connor you are just stereotype them… like that makes you any better.

    #11 4 years ago
  12. Sorraxe

    ”“We heard all kind of negative things from Japan, like we couldn’t use the name Xbox because ‘X’ means death, and the console couldn’t be black, because that also was the color of death.”

    Do you remember the BLACK Nintendo 64?
    Do you remember the BLACK Playstation 2? Slim PS2?
    Do you remember the BLACK Playstation 3? Slim PS3?
    Do you remember the BLACK PSP ? Slim PS3?

    #12 4 years ago
  13. Gadzooks!

    “Even Microsoft did not believe in Xbox, they cut it as soon Xbox 360 was released. Microsoft treated Xbox as a Beta to see how will people respond to it.”

    In actual fact Microsoft needed to cut loose the original Xbox because they did not have rights to the outsourced Nvidia GPU, so they could not redesign it or source cheaper manufacturing.

    A bulk pricing dispute ensued and MS were left with no choice but to push on with a new console where all hardware rights belonged to them.

    The original Xbox did what it was supposed to do. It was the beachhead that allowed the 360 to crush Sony’s dominance both from a hardware and software point of view. Franchises built on that tiny userbase now dwarf the vast majority of other franchise sales.

    As for Japan.. they will never embrace Xbox because it’s a Microsoft product: The embodiment of western corporate power. Japan is proud and insular and will support Japanese products despite the hardware and software, not because of it.

    #13 4 years ago
  14. Galactic_Barret

    Eh, I still think we need Japan.

    Its an eventuality, I feel. As I learned in history class, all empires have a rise and a fall. Right now, Japan is in the midst of its fall while the West is reliving its Golden age. These things are cyclical; The future will eventually see Japan back in a key spot in the gaming industry, just like the US resurged. Its only a matter of when.

    #14 4 years ago
  15. Michael O’Connor

    @11 I’m not stereotyping anyone. Japan is famously xenophobic, a fact well accepted by anyone who isn’t a complete weeaboo.

    Japanese society and industry is notoriously unwilling to accept outside culture or ideas, and frowns down on many things simply because they’re foreign, not because there’s anything inherently wrong with them, even when it’d detrimental to do so.

    This isn’t some sort of made up assumption. It’s simply a fact. People of rural areas tend to be nice enough, always curious about outside stuff. It’s city folks that tend to be the least accepting and most closed minded. Which seems to be the exact opposite how it is the west, where rural people are the more ignorant people and city folk are the open minded ones.

    Japanese has a fairly well known saying.

    “The nail that stick out gets hammered.”

    #15 4 years ago
  16. justiceblob

    i agree with you that Japan is Xenophobic, but:
    a) it’s no where near the level that you seem to think it is…
    B) You clearly haven’t been to many (if any) Japanese cities. Where I lived in Kyoto was one of the most incredibly eclectic and multi cultural places I’ve ever been.

    #16 4 years ago
  17. Michael O’Connor

    @16 There are always going to be places that are exceptions.

    #17 4 years ago
  18. L.O.R.D

    you forgot about the PSX .. and that only sold in Japan

    #18 4 years ago

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