Editorial: Of Pedobear and Pantsu: the Past, PresentRRoD and Future of Microsoft’s Strategy in Japan

Console JRPGs just don't look quite right anymore ...

It was apparent that during the earlier stages of the Xbox 360’s lifecycle M$ went for the Japanese market in a very big way. Money hats were had by all in M$’ vainglorious attempt to muscle in on Sony’s domain, namely the JRPG. Microsoft in typically arrogant fashion sought to purchase inroads where they could not be won through quality manufacture, absurdly attempting to force Japanese gamers onto their poorly made American console with predictably underwhelming results. Microsoft bought up all of Japanese gaming’s favourite franchises from under them, only to see them blunder from underwhelming sales result to underwhelming sales result. A certain degree of satisfaction was of course to be had in seeing Microsoft fail so concertedly in the land of the rising sun, along with the mean-spirited joy of seeing Japanese publishers punished for backing the wrong horse, but this was all tempered somewhat by the unassailable fact that however much money was wasted by Microsoft in this fruitless and grubby little experiment, the only party really damaged by the nonsense was the JRPG developers themselves. Handheld JRPG gaming was already a growing trend at the time, yet the confusion caused by console JRPGs being lured away from their natural home on the PS3, along with the lacklustre sales of console JRPGs ultimately experienced by JRPG publishers did much to scuttle the market for console JRPGs, until today home consoles are very much regarded as being at the periphery of JRPG development. Again, this was probably an inevitable outcome of the transitions taking place in the Japanese lifestyle, and JRPG console development has even picked up slightly now that M$ has elected to leave well enough alone, but Microsoft have nevertheless created for themselves a dubious legacy as being an enduring drag on the console JRPG market to this day.

After failing to woo the mainstream of Japan, Microsoft was able to carve for themselves a niche through the near complete abandonment of quality control. The middle portion of Microsoft’s Japanese strategy was characterised almost exclusively as the 360 being a console for Lusipurr.com’s hardcore Otaku readers, featuring all the Schoolgirl dating, rape eroge and pantsu shots that simply were not possible under Sony of Japan’s police state mentality. This fervent core of consumers was Microsoft’s lifeline during these dark times, and likely the only reason for their continued retail presence in Japan.

Microsoft have their eye on Japan

The third stage of Microsoft’s Japanese strategy is then their shock banning of pantsu, along with any and all of the other Otaku trappings which have so characterised the 360 up to this point. Microsoft have now decided that the 360 will be a family console, quite how they will achieve this, and why they would even want to (due to the increasing irrelevance of the family unit in stagnant Japan) is something of a mystery at this point, the fullest extent of the logic at work here appears to be: Kinect sells well to families, ergo profit (or something of the like). Thus it seems increasingly unlikely that that we will get to experience Kinect Touch Rape Happy Ka*on for the time present at least. This is an immensely wasted opportunity for M$ given the 360’s user base in Japan, as the touch capabilities of Kinect may even have been sufficient to see them snag a Love Plus gaiden, or something equally creepy. Instead Microsoft risk turning away their current consumers in their droves in the absurd attempt at having their console seen as something other than an Otaku enabling device. Given that the totality of Japanese intimacy in the current era consists of NDS dating sims, public onanism and train carriage groping, Microsoft looks to all the world like forsaking a vital market for a dead one.

So what then is the future for Microsoft’s Kinect technology in Japan? Given that an increasing number of Japanese devils no longer have enough lebensraum to even countenance having a family, it is something of a mystery quite how Microsoft thinks that the beastly Japs will be able to re-arrange their domiciles in order to accommodate Kinect. Even if the Japanese were to colonise Ethan Pipher’s arse, it would still only allow for 7-8 families to own a Kinect (in a best case scenario). So then even Ethan’s arse would appear to be a dead end, so to speak, for Microsoft’s Kinect technology in Japan.

VERBOTEN!

Is there no hope then of Kinect being productive and profitable in Japan? I shouldn’t think that this is necessarily the case, though it is certainly unlikely to meet Microsoft’s lofty expectations. The simple fact is that unless Microsoft does an about-face with respect to their pantsu policy, then the Kinect stands to be more profitable alone than it does as an adjunct to the moribund 360. If Microsoft no longer wishes to make money from creepy Otaku then the technology is completely wasted on their console, and would be much more lucratively deployed in Japanese arcade machines. In a setting where Kinect might actually find enough room to function properly, and used in conjunction with games that Japanese gamers might actually want to play, Microsoft could make an absolute killing licensing their tech to arcade game manufacturers. Further, we have already seen Microsoft’s technology gainfully employed by creepy Otaku in their own creepy independent/homebrew molestation eroges and Hatsune Miko dance simulators. Sure there is no room in Japan for Microsoft’s Kinect, but we all know that Otaku will move heaven and earth for more immersive virtual Schoolgirl rape mechanics (necessity is the mother of invention). Normally such unorthodox usage of console technology would be an unmitigated disaster for a console manufacturer (as Sony could attest to with their effective subsidy of department of defence PS3 super-computers), but since Microsoft sell Kinect at such a horrid mark-up, each unit sold is roughly 70% profit, unless of course their characteristically absurd optimism led M$ to produce a ridiculous overabundance of Kinect units for the Japanese market …

... And yet still the pantsu endure!

At any rate, I am but an outsider looking in, and would so very much like to hear your considered reckons on the matter. Do you see Microsoft’s plans coming into fruition in Japan? Do you go to sleep at night hoping against hope that Microsoft never gains an interest in the Japanese handheld market? Can you see a way for Ethan Pipher’s arse to be used more efficiently, as a Kinect time-share perhaps? Do you feel abandoned and betrayed by Microsoft’s shunning of pantsu? Have you or any of your friends created a Kinect based rape sim?

0 comments

  1. Okay, I think I’ve worked out which bits you are serious about.

    Competition is *usually* good for consumers, but I am increasingly believing this is not the case in the gaming industry. Normally, competition makes rival companies try to create better products than their competitiors–but these days, in the gaming hardware industry, companies are only interested in solidifying their positions; moreover, it is the software devs who end up shouldering the cost of parallel platform development.

    M$ is one of the worst things to happen to gaming as a whole, and I agree that their involvement dealt the JRPG industry a punishing blow at an inopportune time. JRPGs hadn’t been doing entirely well for starts, and then to be divided and dithered by M$ was certainly no help.

    XBox deserves to fail in Japan, and rightly are. Their policy of ‘money can buy everything’ and ‘everything should cost money’ is abhorrent.

  2. “Okay, I think I’ve worked out which bits you are serious about.”

    See, now there’s your mistake! What have I ever done to suggest seriousness, credibility or integrity?

    Nonetheless, as a token nod to dour sobriety I will note that there are altogether far too many players in the gaming racket, both in the hardware and software side of things, and something will have to give.

    Incresingly we are finding ourselves in the situation where only established franchises are making money (and we all know how good that is for the health and creativity of the game industry), while everything else is destined for a hastey transit to the discount bin (or in fact to disappear completely from store shelves).

    Too many developers, and the wrong ones are making the money. The market has expanded too far, too fast, and now needs to reign things in a little, else become unsustainable.

    Or leastways that is my reckon.