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Xbox’s failure in Japan and why there won’t be a PS4

Recently we’ve seen a multitude of reports indicating retailers in Japan are scaling back Microsoft’s Xbox 360 from store shelves, some are even removing it altogether.

It got me wondering about the possible reasons why MS could let an entire region slip through their fingers and the impact it could have on next generation of consoles. If you were to believe the majority of ‘Xbox supporters’ in some comments sections, the Japanese are a bunch of intolerant, xenophobic traditionalists, who only ever buy products produced in their own country. It’s hard not to find this type of generalist comment ironically offensive. On the other troll claw, you have ‘PS3 supporters’ claiming that, and I quote, “Japanese people know a good quality console when they see one”, of course this is almost as equally generalist and just as deluded.

Anyway, I’m here to give you my rational and objective opinion/speculation and not to make fun of ‘those guys’. There’s some little known (in the west, where most other cultures are ‘little known’) aspects of Japanese culture that Microsoft has accidentally put its foot in. Apparently, in the land of the rising sun, an ‘X’ has negative connotations and can mean ‘no’, ’ bad’, ‘don’t want it’ or ‘wrong’. A circle is used as an opposing positive symbol, which explains why Japanese DS3 controllers have the X and O buttons reversed compared to the west. The ‘X’ in Japanese is pronounced “batsu” and the ‘O’ “maru”, this can be heard in Japanese game shows where a player is either “maru” (correct O) or “batsu” (wrong X). So, somewhat humorously, the Xbox could be translated as a ‘bad box’ or a ‘box of wrongness’. This is something Microsoft clearly never considered when their PR team were thinking of a way to grab that all important adolescent teen male demographic. I can’t say they did a bad job as ‘X’ in the west is seen as a ‘cool’ letter, especially to their young male targets: X-men, eXcellent, eXtreme even ‘xxx’. Let me just point out that I don’t think this was the defining factor in the downfall of Xbox in Japan but merely my own speculation based on Internet acquired ‘facts’. This gets me thinking about how retailers will react when it’s time to order all new ‘nextboxes’. I’m pretty sure that MS may have a very difficult time fighting against retailer perceptions unless they change the name of the console, which I’m not sure they are willing/able to do.

Now on to why I think there won’t be a PS4. I’m going to be straight with you now and say that I DO believe there’ll be another Playstation, just that it won’t be named PS4 for reasons similar to my previous speculation. You see there’s more things about Japanese culture that you may not know, unlikely I know but let me continue, such as a certain superstition regarding the number ‘4’. The number four is considered unlucky, so much so that some hospitals don’t have rooms with the number or even floors. This is especially true for maternity wards where the number ‘43’ can be literally translated to ‘still birth’. Also 4 is pronounced “shi” which is the same/similar to the pronunciation of ‘death’. So you can clearly see that naming the next Playstation the PS4 could potentially have a dramatic effect just like it did/didn’t with the Xbox. Well, there you have it, the ramblings of a bored gamer on a rainy day; there’s one interesting question I have raised though...

...if the next Playstation isn’t going to be called the PS4, then what IS it going to be named? Answers on a postcard please.

P.S I apologise for the use of the worn out cliché "in the land of the rising sun" it was uncalled for.

UPDATE: Apparently part of my blog was mentioned in a bonus round video, I'd say I never saw the video but you wouldn't believe me. Anyway yes xer0, I will give credit to game trailers and no I didn't disagree with you. I'll agree now just so you have one, I still haven't seen the video you linked so I'm just taking your word for it.


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TheDareDevil2432d ago

Interesting blog!

The reason why Japan doesn't favour the 360 is cause I think there are not to many good Japanese games on it. And the Japanese also prefer handheld gaming to consoles

Chaostar2432d ago (Edited 2432d ago )


TBH I don't know exactly how many Japanese games there are on the 360 but it looks like any remaining popular franchises that it had exclusively died with this:

"The console's most high-profile exclusive in the region, The [email protected] 2, a game in which you train up a nubile pop starlet, has now been ported to PS3, which is certainly a contributing factor in the console's failing fortunes."

Taken from the IGN article I linked to in the blog.

darthv722432d ago

There may be some truth to the name issue for the "X"box. MS did actually surpass their original xbox by roughly 1 million units in the same region. I am sure MS is happy with that. One of the key aspects in sales is not just outselling the competition. It is besting your own previous sales. MS has done a great job overall in that regard.

Who knows, maybe they will go back to having different system names for the different areas. Like the Mega Drive (JP/EU) and Genesis (US). One thing seems certain. In spite of the low sales of the 360, they will release another system in JP.

Those who are wanting MS to pull out are not seeing the bigger picture. With strong competition comes the desire to improve ones own self worth. For MS to pull out would have dire results in that area. To fail is honorable if done in battle. To walk away is worse and in some cases...unrecoverable in the eyes of such an honor based culture.

2432d ago Replies(1)
xX-StolenSoul-Xx2432d ago

you should read the blog and you will see he does say their will be a ps4 and never said their won't be one.

xer02432d ago (Edited 2432d ago )

@Chaostar - nice going with the sensational title.

When are you going to give credit to Gametrailers, with regards to why the PS4 'MAY not' be called the PS4?

No sooner did I see that episode of Bonus Round, yesterday - did I see your blog post today.

Credit, where credit is due buddy ;-)


xer02432d ago

Not sure why you're disagreeing with me.

You watched Bonus Round, like me. Just because i'm calling you out on it... it doesn't mean you should take it personally.

xer02431d ago (Edited 2431d ago )


I'll take your word for it.
If anything - the Bonus Round video, serves to reinforce your blog post.

I learned a thing or 2 about X/O; Good job :)
I'll be sure to follow.

Godmars2902432d ago (Edited 2432d ago )

I know this wont register like it always fails to when I bring it up, but the reason the Xbox was called that was because "Gen-X" was the thing at the time. That MS was only thinking of young male middle-class white America when they got into consoles.

Seriously, MS is headquartered in Washington, the birth place of grunge and emo, the two chief clicks from gen-X.

Good post BTW.

Chaostar2432d ago (Edited 2432d ago )


I think the whole gen-x thing is very 'American', being British I failed to make the connection but thanks for the input, it does seem to fit nicely.

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