Xbox One Console Has Dismal Launch in Japan

XBOX One Console Family - H 2013

XBOX One Console Family - H 2013

Lines of excited buyers conspicuous by their absence

The Xbox One launched in Japan on Thursday with next to no fanfare and one store in Tokyo reporting that they hadn't sold a single console by late afternoon.

Some electronics and game stores in central Tokyo had put out signs at midnight last night telling nonexistent customers where to line up for their Xbox Ones. Other outlets, with lower but more realistic expectations, had not gone to the trouble of opening early.

"Honestly speaking, we haven't sold a single Xbox yet today. The Xbox has never been a big-seller, but we would expect a few customers on the release day," a sales assistant at a Tokyo electronics store, who asked for it not to be identified, told The Hollywood Reporter.       

At Yodobashi Camera in Yurakucho, a single customer waiting to buy the Xbox One when the store opened was reported to be outnumbered by a group of journalists there to cover the launch.

Microsoft has always struggled in the backyard of game rivals Sony and Nintendo, but did shift more than 1.5 million Xbox 360s in Japan. It looks unlikely to match that performance with its new console, which is being outsold by Sony's PlayStation 4 (PS4) two-to-one globally. The PS4 has beaten Sony's sales forecasts, pushing its gaming division back into the black even as the company continues to struggle overall.  

Xbox One is on sale in Japan for $381 (?39,980) for the basic package, and $476 (?49,980) with the Kinect sensor needed for many games. By comparison, the PS4 is around $380, ready to play.

One reason for the Microsoft system's woes in Japan is the taste of local gamers, who tend toward role-playing type games rather than the shoot-'em-ups that the Xbox has been known for.

Tokyo Game Show, one of the largest events of its kind in the world, runs from Sept. 18 to 22. Microsoft has traditionally had a big presence at the show despite its poor sales in Japan.

Twitter@ GavinJBlair