If you wanted some honest explanation for the absence at large of Japanese releases on Xbox One, the CEO of NIS America is ready to give you one. In a recent interview, Takuro Yamashita explains how their range of niche releases do not fit well in Microsoft’s business structure, which results in a paradox that makes impossible the release of niche Japanese games or the appearance of an audience for them.
While the Xbox 360 received important JRPG exclusives like Lost Odyssey, Blue Dragon, the Xbox One seems to have lost all Japanese support that doesn’t come from the bigger developers. Sure, the console has received heavy hitters like Final Fantasy XV, and it has Dragon Ball FighterZ or Code Vein lined up, but those are also coming to other platforms, and they are still missing lots of other smaller titles that ultimately develop a dedicated audience. The perfect example being how the console is expected to receive Kingdom Hearts 3, but is missing entirely the 1.5+2.5 and 2.8 HD remasters. What happens to companies like NIS America is that their whole lineup consists on titles of that range, like the excellent Danganronpa V3.
In an interview with MCV, NIS America’s President and CEO explained how they reached this point: “Microsoft also has a minimum order quantity for their games, and their whole structure isn’t really geared toward niche games or smaller games like Japanese titles, so they’re not really supportive of Japanese games or developers.”
The company, he says, is always on the look for platforms where there might be an audience for their titles, and the success of Disgaea 5 on Nintendo Switch is a clear example of this. Still, as he correctly says, “it’s a chicken and egg problem,” meaning that Japanese companies don’t find an audience on Xbox, but in order to attract one there needs to be Japanese titles coming for it. The conclusion is that they would be up to release a title that had certain level of awareness already among the Xbox One audience.
The president of Nihon Falcom, Toshihiro Kondo, even points out that the performance of Xbox One in Japan, where the console gets dismal sales every week, also takes it out of their options: “Falcom is obviously a Japan-focused developer and looking at the situation in Japan, the Xbox has had a difficult time.”