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Chaostar (User)

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"Don't be a pretentious jerk"

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

Chaostar | 1636d ago
User blog

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.


TheDareDevil  +   1636d 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
Chaostar  +   1636d 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 Id@lmaster 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.
#1.1 (Edited 1636d ago ) | Agree(1) | Disagree(0) | Report | Reply
darthv72  +   1635d ago
the power of a name....
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.
DK286K   1636d ago | Spam
SugarSoSweet  +   1636d ago
there will be a ps4
xX-StolenSoul-Xx  +   1636d 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.
xer0  +   1635d 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 ;-)

#2.2 (Edited 1635d ago ) | Agree(1) | Disagree(3) | Report | Reply
xer0  +   1635d 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.
xer0  +   1635d 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.
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Godmars290  +   1636d 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.
#3 (Edited 1636d ago ) | Agree(2) | Disagree(3) | Report | Reply
Chaostar  +   1636d 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.
#3.1 (Edited 1636d ago ) | Agree(1) | Disagree(0) | Report | Reply
DK286K   1636d ago | Spam
Istanbull   1636d ago | Immature | show | Replies(1)
N3FAR105  +   1636d ago
If it won't be called the PS4, what else can they call it? Could they just call it 'Playstation'? They could just put the PS4 out, see it do well, then maybe the Japanese won't think it's such an unlucky number after all.
Chaostar  +   1636d ago
It's optimistic to think that a console release could change a superstitious belief passed down through generations. I have no idea what they could call it, I was hoping people in the comments section would come up with something interesting.
seinfan  +   1635d ago
It'll be PS4 elsewhere. They'll name it something else for the Japanese market. I don't see why they couldn't. I seem to recall the NES and the Famicom being the same thing.
N3FAR105  +   1636d ago
Ok then. They could go the same way they did with the Vita and go Latin.
Palma = Glory
Inexpugnabilis = unconquerable (quite catchy)
Anima = life, soul (I actually like this one)
#7 (Edited 1636d ago ) | Agree(2) | Disagree(0) | Report | Reply
KionicWarlord222  +   1635d ago
Wow this was a good read. I didn't know much about japan`s cultural fears. But thanks for sharing them.
trenso1   1635d ago | Trolling | show
SilentNegotiator  +   1635d ago
Interesting thought on the 4 issue. I knew about the superstitions and everything, but I never made the connection when thinking about the Playstation's next system.

Playstation could probably use a bit of re-branding anyway, between it being used for over a decade and certain media outlets still not letting certain things go.

Nice blog.
pixelsword  +   1635d ago
The next playstation will be called the Playstation Square

{four corners)

5-9 will be shapes

The 10th one will be X like the button because two wrongs don't make a right, but it will make things even, and 10 is an even number. I just made that crap up.

Then they'll go back to numbers?
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LightofDarkness  +   1635d ago
Honestly, I'd say we'd be lucky to see a successful hardware gen after the next. After that, we'll have some sort of "Apple iMonolith" or similar device that is the size of a phone and as powerful as a mid-sized dekstop of the same era. It can plug into your HDTV (wirelessly?) and uses an I/O array hub as well to connect keyboard and mouse, gamepads etc. That's what I see starting to take off, a convenient "all-in-one" device that can be as much a phone as a plug-and-play workstation, and easily a games console too.

I know that's Apple's vision, anyway, and they're coming startlingly close to realising it with each new product refresh. The new MBPs are almost fully reliant on the app store now. That's right: Apple are going full-on digital distribution from now on. After this one, mac-books won't even have disk drives (like the Air series).
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pixelsword  +   1635d ago
That's disturbing...
plmkoh  +   1635d ago
"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."

Guess that makes the Iphone "4" very unpopular in Japan...oh wait it is popular.
Dark_king  +   1635d ago
It could be called the giant dildo and people would buy it if it has the games.Games sell consoles,names only get you to look.
An anyone who played FF7 should know about X/O.I still have to change it so X is enter and circle is cancel so I can play.Great port Btw.
ufo8mycat  +   1634d ago
It's really simple

The reason 360 doesn't sell in Japan is because it hardly has any games and Japanese people are smart enough not to be conned by Microsofts advertising since they know better.
StifflerK  +   1634d ago
Wow , I never knew that about the console names, and X and O.

I just think MS need games that are directly aimed at the Japanese market (based on Japanese culture, lifestyle or history) , and that they need to own those IP's ( to make sure they stay exclusive - timed exclusives aren't good enough.)

I think doing those two things would help a lot.

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