Xbox One launched in Japan today, with some fanfare but bugger all excitement. Just look at these images of persistently empty queues.
The Xbox One was launched at midnight in Japan, with Microsoft throwing a special event to count down to release.
Although the launch event seems to have been cheerful enough, the enthusiasm hasn’t carried over into the light of day. Kotaku has collected a string of photos showing patchy queues – in fact, most of them are entirely non-existent – at significant retailers in major districts.
Of course, potential consumers had all day to come in and pick up their new consoles, and no doubt many of them did. But it’s hard to imagine the Xbox One is going to be doing big numbers in Japan when local gamers can’t even summon the enthusiasm to pick it up when stores open.
What these photos convey is the opposite of hype. If it was just one we might write it off as not particularly meaningful, or even a prank, but when so many of them pop up it’s hard not to be convinced – especially as several of them originated with press, not random Twitter users.
Happily, there were some locations with a bit more energy. Reports out of Akiba suggest at least seven people were waiting for the doors to open at Yodobashi, and another ten were waiting at Mainichi. But there were no queues overnight, and very little activity throughout the rest of the day, apparently.
We can’t say this is a heck of a surprise. While Microsoft and Sony arm-wrestle over the western HD gaming market, in Japan PlayStation has always dominated. Microsoft may be partially to blame for this, as the Xbox 360 had an okay launch but long delays, lack of local development support and patchy localisations gave the console a bad reputation.
Microsoft did make several attempts to woo Japanese gamers in by working with local developers; think back to early JRPG exclusives, and Kinect games like Steel Battalion and Crimson dragon. For various reasons, its efforts have always come to naught. It’ll be very interesting to see if Microsoft makes a significant push to do better this generation – and whether it pays off.