26 Apr 2021 3:00 PM +00:00

Xbox Game Pass Helps Change The Narrative On Microsoft's Failings In Japan

Microsoft's struggles in Japan have been well documented, with the Xbox brand failing to break ground each generation so far.

That's led to some rumours of big acquisitions on the horizon, including the likes of Square Enix – although we still remain unconvinced.

What is clear, though, is that Microsoft has flipped the playbook with Xbox Game Pass.

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Xbox Game Pass Helps Change The Narrative On Microsoft's Failings In Japan

Back in the Xbox 360 generation, Microsoft courted Japanese developers in order to increase the Xbox brand's standing in Japan. Not only did the likes of Final Fantasy XIII appear on Xbox, but the likes of Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey arrived as exclusives.

Unfortunately, though, these additions to the platform didn't move the needle, and after cancelling Scalebound last generation, it appeared Microsoft had given up on broadening their playerbase in Japan.

As it turns out, though, Xbox Game Pass might be just what Japanese publishers are hoping for.

In the last few months, Microsoft has been scooping up franchises that are arguably less popular (or at least, not as well known) in the West.

While you, the clued-up Gfinity reader, may be familiar with the Yakuza franchise, for example, there are thousands upon thousands of Xbox (and PC) gamers that simply aren't clued into who Kiryu is, and why his franchise has so many entries.

With that in mind, Microsoft and Sega have not only bought the entire franchise to the Xbox platform for the first time, but introduced the majority of them to Game Pass.

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The combination of "oh, I've heard people say that's great", a cursory Metacritic search, and the fact that it's playable on two generations of hardware as well as PC, has no doubt widened Yakuza's appeal significantly.

It doesn't stop there, either. Bandai Namco's Code Vein, a title that didn't set the world alight at launch, has another chance to shine. Classic franchises like Disgaea and Dragon Quest are available, as well as four classic Final Fantasy titles.

Nier Automata, Octopath Traveler, and Tales of Vesperia – the list goes on.

While Microsoft may not be able to flex its significant financial clout in Japan, it's also spending and making partnerships that'll no doubt introduce a whole new generation of gamers to an entire backlog of games they may otherwise have missed out on.