Microsoft's gaming market share in Japan hardly even appears in the pie chart, but the company is looking to alter that long-held tradition with potential studio acquisitions.
According to a new report by Bloomberg (thanks VGC), multiple studios in Japan have been approached by Microsoft to discuss possible buyouts to help Microsoft strengthen its influence in the country and region abroad. In all cases, the companies speaking to Bloomberg asked to remain anonymous as the talks aren't meant to be public. Bloomberg described these studios as ranging "from small to big" but it's not any clearer than that which teams were approached.
Since Xbox Game Pass for console and PC arrived in Japan earlier this year, Phil Spencer said there's been more Xbox activity in the country than ever before. Now, with the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S both launching worldwide tomorrow, there's an opportunity for Xbox to make a bigger dent in the world's third-biggest games market. With the Xbox One launch in 2013, Microsoft's console didn't hit Japan until a year later. This time, Japan receives the new Xbox just as we all do.
Jeremy Hinton, head of Xbox operations in Asia, told Bloomberg that acquisitions were possible and the company was “always open to discussions with creators that are a good fit.” This quote backs up Phil Spencer's own words where he's spoken on the subject, confirming he would very much like to leave a bigger mark in the region.
With the ongoing acquisition of Bethesda's parent company, ZeniMax, Microsoft does now, in fact, own one Japanese studio, anyway. Tango Gameworks, the team behind The Evil Within series and the upcoming Ghostwire: Tokyo is based out of Japan, making it the only Xbox Game Studios team to be from the area out of all 23 studios.
Microsoft believes the future of its gaming division, where consoles, PC, and mobile are connected to provide one universal Xbox experience, may appeal to Japanese gamers who want that versatility. Pre-orders, though likely limited in their stock, did sell out in Japan. A Japanese studio would be the next logical step in the company's attempts to get a sturdier foot in the door in Japan.