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Opinion Rumor Thoughts on the murmurs that Sony is winding down SCEJ and Japan side of things?

longdi

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Coming from the latest Bloomberg article, it seems Sony is winding down their Japanese sides of thing.
Very strange and bold move from Jim Ryan imo

Choice quote:
Japan-based developer support teams have been reduced by as much as a third from their peak, and the rolling contracts of a number of game creators at PlayStation’s Japan Studio, one of the unit’s oldest in-house software ateliers, haven’t been renewed,


Full piece for those not wanting to deal with Bloomberg article limits.

In the battle of the next-generation gaming machines, two key players are moving in different directions.

Microsoft Corp. is making a serious attempt to attract fans in Japan with its new consoles and network services. Meanwhile, Tokyo-based Sony Corp. moved its PlayStation business headquarters to California in 2016 and has built the U.S. into its largest single market

New Xbox and PlayStation devices launching this week will likely face an uphill battle in Japan, where Nintendo Co.’s Switch enjoys dominance with a family-friendly lineup of games.

But Microsoft’s targeting of the world’s third-largest video-game market -- including with services that can be accessed across a variety of devices -- could potentially yield strong results. As the Xbox has virtually zero presence in the country, there’s plenty of room for it to increase its share.

“The Xbox has a chance to make Japan its second-largest market after the U.S. if it takes the right steps for years to come,” said Hideki Yasuda, an analyst at Ace Research Institute in Tokyo. “Sony’s attention is drifting away and fans have started to notice that.”

Sony has placed more importance on the U.S. market after the PlayStation 4’s disappointing performance in Japan, according to employees who asked not to be identified discussing internal matters.

Sony’s PlayStation 5 Is Beating Xbox in the Online Black Market

Global sales of the PS4 rose to more than 113 million from the PS3’s 87 million, according to Sony data. But the console sold fewer than 10 million units in Japan, less than its predecessor, according to Famitsu, a Japanese video-game magazine. The U.S., meanwhile, accounts for 35% of the video-game unit’s revenue, compared with 10% for Japan, according to Macquarie Group Ltd. analyst Damian Thong.

Any suggestion that Sony is shifting its focus away from Japan is incorrect and doesn’t reflect the company’s strategy, spokeswoman Natsumi Atarashi said. She noted that the PlayStation 5 is launching first in Japan and said “our home market remains of utmost importance.”

A senior figure inside PlayStation headquarters in San Mateo, California, said the U.S. side was frustrated by the failure of the Japan marketing team to sell as many PlayStation 4 units as expected. The person asked not to be identified discussing internal matters.

As a result, Japan has been sidelined in planning the PlayStation 5’s promotion, according to several PlayStation staff in Japan. Employees in Tokyo said they’ve been left awaiting instructions from California.

Japan-based developer support teams have been reduced by as much as a third from their peak, and the rolling contracts of a number of game creators at PlayStation’s Japan Studio, one of the unit’s oldest in-house software ateliers, haven’t been renewed, former employees said. The U.S. office believes the PlayStation business doesn’t need games that only do well in Japan, employees in the California headquarters said.

The PlayStation 5’s two main online promotional events both took place at 5 a.m. in Tokyo -- making them more accessible to American and European fans -- and lacked Japanese translation for some parts. The company also decided to standardize its PS5 control scheme so that Japanese players would have to use X to confirm and O to cancel, like the rest of the world. That reverses a 26-year tradition in a country where circles signify positives and crosses mark negatives.

Local retailers said they haven’t received many more first-batch PlayStation 5 units than they did of the PlayStation 3, which had a limited initial production run.

“It’s analyst consensus that PlayStation no longer sees the Japan market as important,” Morningstar Research analyst Kazunori Ito said. “If you want to know their take on the Japanese market, you need to ask about it because otherwise Sony wouldn’t talk about it.”

TV ownership among Japanese households has been falling for years, according to government data. That makes the market less attractive, according to Ace’s Yasuda. In order to play games on the PlayStation, a user must have a TV or monitor, though some titles are also available to play on PCs.

Serkan Toto, a game consultant in Tokyo, said the PlayStation 5 should sell fewer units than its predecessor.

“Many PlayStation 4 owners in Japan would eventually move to the PlayStation 5, but that would largely depend on how strong the PlayStation team in Tokyo will be in pushing the needs of Japanese customers to the American headquarters,” he said. “Considering the current power balance between the U.S. and Japan, I can’t expect much, unfortunately.”

To be sure, the PlayStation 4’s worldwide success suggests Sony’s strategy hasn’t been detrimental. Chief Financial Officer Hiroki Totoki said on Oct. 28 that the company would be able to sell more than 7.6 million PlayStation 5 units in the first five months, more than the popular PlayStation 4 achieved in the same timeframe. The long-term goal is to sell as many units as the PS4, Totoki said.

And the company’s PlayStation Plus subscription service, for owners of Sony consoles, reported a record increase in subscribers during the period of pandemic lockdowns.

Video Game Black Market
The PS5 is beating the Xbox on EBay ahead of its Nov. 12 release

But Microsoft, which is launching its next-generation consoles in Japan on Tuesday, the same day it does so in the rest of the world, sees an opportunity in the country’s market. Microsoft didn’t start selling the Xbox One in Japan until almost a year after the U.S., which contributed to its disappointing sales in the Asian country

The challenge facing Microsoft is steep. The Xbox One accounted for just 0.1% of console sales in Japan this year through Nov. 1, compared with 10.1% for the PlayStation 4 and 89.8% for Nintendo’s Switch, according to Famitsu.

Microsoft is betting its Xbox Series S, the smallest Xbox ever, will help turn the tide. Previous consoles were criticized as being too large for Japanese living rooms, Ace’s Yasuda said.

The U.S. company has been stepping up discussions with Japan-based game developers about releasing titles on the Xbox, said Sarah Bond, who oversees relations with game creators across the Microsoft gaming ecosystem.

Koei Tecmo Games Co. is one of those firms. Hisashi Koinuma, president of the Japanese publisher, said he’s willing to consider releasing more games for the Xbox if the U.S. company shows continued interest in Japan.

On top of that, there’s evidence Microsoft is seeking to make acquisitions in the country, though it hasn’t yet landed a deal with a big name there. Several Japan-based game developers, from small to big, said it had approached them about buying their businesses. They asked not to be identified as the talks were private, and declined to give details on how the discussions went.

When asked about potential purchases of Japanese companies, Jeremy Hinton, head of Xbox operations in Asia, said Microsoft is always open to discussions with creators that are a good fit. He said acquisitions are a possibility but there are no announcements to share at this time.

“Japan has long been an isolated part of the Xbox world, but it appears Microsoft is changing that landscape,” Katsuhiko Hayashi, representative of Famitsu Group, said of Microsoft’s efforts to target the country.

The focus isn’t just on selling consoles. Hinton said the company is also banking on winning subscribers to the Game Pass Ultimate service, which includes the xCloud game-streaming offering. This service, which can be used for other devices as well as the Xbox, offers more than 100 all-you-can-play games for a fixed monthly fee and will seek to entice the country’s growing cohort of mobile gamers.

While Japan has fallen behind China and the U.S. in the size of its video-game market, Microsoft said Japan is still biggest when measured by per-capita spending.

But questions remain about whether the U.S. company will be able to penetrate it given its lack of success in the past, according to game-industry consultant Toto.

“Microsoft will continue to have a hard time in Japan, and I don’t see any reason why the next Xbox should do better in Japan than the previous models,” he said. “All signs point that for the next years, Nintendo will stay king in Japan, and I really don’t understand why Microsoft is still so obsessed with Japan.”

Whether he’s right -- or whether the U.S. company can prise open the door to a market that has long eluded it -- remains to be seen.

“Microsoft won’t be able to take Sony’s position as No. 2 in Japan anytime soon, but at least it has started to make changes,” Ace’s Yasuda said. “A big tide always starts with a small change.”
 
Mar 1, 2018
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Well if this is true then Sony is retarded beyond belief. I really dislike their approach of taking everything to USA. Not that it means, because they got massive proffits thanks to that move, but still their japanese identity is slowly going away. And I just don't see myself buying and xbox (too invested in ps ecosystem + no time/no need for second console) or upgrading PC (I just dislike playing on it anything other than multiplayer games).
 

-Arcadia-

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Typical reply preview:
“Wahhh the wokes are taking over more censorship coming RIP gaming”

You seem upset.

My guess, if these allegations have truth to them, is that after selling apparently around ten million units in Japan, two generations in a row, Sony doesn’t see it as that much of a priority anymore, nor investing in Japanese talent to create games better received by that market.

I mean, think about that. Twenty million units. Out of what? 200 million+?

I don’t like it, but western games for western-styled hardware is clearly something that’s working for Sony.
 

Danjin44

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Well, that part of their in house development hasn't really been a major factor recently. All the big hitters come from the US and EU teams. Except for Polyphony I suppose.
If Sony only focus on games that do big numbers then next gen is going have one boring ass selections. What I loved about PlayStation was they would support unique first party game even it didn’t sell numbers because it would make selection varied and interesting.
 

RoadHazard

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If Sony only focus on games that do big numbers then next gen is going have one boring ass selections. What I loved about PlayStation was they would support unique first party game even it didn’t sell numbers because it would make selection varied and interesting.

Yeah, I agree. But I would understand this from a business perspective.
 
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ChuckeRearmed

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The home console market is shrinking in Japan with PC and handheld on the rise. PS had a handheld but it dropped the ball with it and now Japan is basically a Nintendoland. PS will definitely get Japanese games, but long term it has no chances there in Japan.

Japan in general is ahead of the west in a lot of areas - including the problems - so current Japan is what will happen on the west.
 
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Yoboman

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If Sony only focus on games that do big numbers then next gen is going have one boring ass selections. What I loved about PlayStation was they would support unique first party game even it didn’t sell numbers because it would make selection varied and interesting.
They've already announced a bunch of games like that
 

lyra-ixi

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jimmy gonna jimmy.

stupid decision if true. maybe that's why MS is sniffin about. Hey if Sony don't want it anymore...

The home console market is shrinking in Japan with PC and handheld on the rise. PS had a handheld but it dropped the ball with it and now Japan is basically a Nintendoland. PS will definitely get Japanese games, but long term it has no chances there in Japan.

Japan in general is ahead of the west in a lot of areas - including the problems - so current Japan is what will happen on the west.

gee i wonder who has their fingers in the PC/Handheld pie?

MS will be trying to get in there. They could buy up whatever Sony is throwing away. MS obviously makes money from PC gamers and their xCloud will do well in Japan!
 
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brap

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Complete cancer. Enjoy your 2007 era games but now with added politics!
Maybe you can customize your genital in the next Infamous!
 

Dargor

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Isn't sony's japan studio one of their biggest? Heard they have, like, 1k people.

I feel their output is really not aligned with their size. Its like they only help out other studios and put out some smaller games now and then.

They do have qualitty, but for a studio that size, they are really lacking, imho.
 

longdi

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If this is true then gaming gonna get stagnated and extremely dull. I live for unique AA games and if those games disappear then so is my interest in gaming.

Yea im not sure how many big AAA games with over the top set pieces until they become templates.
 

Rhazer Fusion

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I think it’s blatantly obvious that Sony is becoming less of a Japanese company and catering more to the West. The move to California just further cements this I feel. I think this is very disappointing because their heavy Japanese presence is one of the primary things that attracted me to the PlayStation in the first place. For me that’s essentially how Sony established their identity. Microsoft seems to be pursuing Japanese developers a little more aggressively though? Hmmmm.....
 
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Soodanim

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You seem upset.

My guess, if these allegations have truth to them, is that after selling apparently around ten million units in Japan, two generations in a row, Sony doesn’t see it as that much of a priority anymore, nor investing in Japanese talent to create games better received by that market.

I mean, think about that. Twenty million units. Out of what? 200 million+?

I don’t like it, but western games for western-styled hardware is clearly something that’s working for Sony.
It’s a prediction that I want to be proved wrong.

I think a decline in Japanese oriented operations is something you wouldn’t traditionally expect if you look solely at the roots of PlayStation, but ultimately any smart business follows the market and PlayStation’s worldwide numbers are hard to ignore. It will be interesting to see if Sony lose anything in their transition to a US-based approach. I wonder how the Japan X/O swap will be received.

It’s also interesting that while Sony are moving away from Japan as a focal point, Microsoft are moving closer. Is it an effort to capture a market they never cracked, or do they see potential there with Sony pulling away? The article doesn’t seem too positive about it.
 
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Stuart360

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The home console market is shrinking in Japan with PC and handheld on the rise. PS had a handheld but it dropped the ball with it and now Japan is basically a Nintendoland. PS will definitely get Japanese games, but long term it has no chances there in Japan.

Japan in general is ahead of the west in a lot of areas - including the problems - so current Japan is what will happen on the west.
Thats not certain to happen at all really. Japanese being more into mobile gaming isnt something that has rose over the last year or two, its literally been 2 generations. In fact you could argure that the PS1/Saturn/N64 gen was the last gen where Japanese gamers were just as much into consoles as western gamers. There were signs in the PS2 gen that Japanese tastes were trending towards mobile, hense why it was before the 360/PS3 gen where the whole 'mobil gaiming is taking over, no one cares about consoles anymore' rhetoric started.

As for Sony, i'm a PC only gamer, but i feel it would suck to see Sony lose its Japanese heritage, especially in terms of Playstation.
 

longdi

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I think it’s blatantly obvious that Sony is becoming less of a Japanese company and catering more to the West. The move to California just further cements this I feel. I think this is very disappointing because that’s really what attracted me to the PlayStation in the first place. Microsoft seems to be pursuing Japanese developers a little more aggressively though? Hmmmm.....

I like to see their Japanese studios take a crack at big budget jrpg and cheaper wacky titles like ape escape.

Imo there is still variety from different culture. But by cutting dowm their budget to a third, it's almost gg.
 
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thelastword

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Yet, everybody is going to play Astro at launch, from one of the best Studios in Japan at this time. PD is cooking a storm with GT7, they thought a remake of Demon Souls would be necessary at launch....I don't see Japanese support dwindling anytime soon, if anything expect an increase in Japanese support, just like the PS1 era........PS5 is even more developer friendly than PS1, about a month to triangle. FF remakes and expansions, FF16 exclusivity, Nioh, Gravity Rush etc....Japanese support will be even better this gen. I expect a new NG, Silent Hill etc etc. etc....Perhaps even a new Castlevania and Metal Gear if the rumors are true....
 

Elias

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This has been the case for a while. But you all seem to prefer their western third person shooter games, so whatever. Back to building in Grounded I go.
 

ChuckeRearmed

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There were signs in the PS2 gen that Japanese tastes were trending towards mobile, hense why it was before the 360/PS3 gen where the whole 'mobil gaiming is taking over, no one cares about consoles anymore' rhetoric started.
That's what I am talking about - Japan for some reason is ahead in trends, that hit western market later.

As for Sony, i'm a PC only gamer, but i feel it would suck to see Sony lose its Japanese heritage, especially in terms of Playstation.
Sony hasn't been that much Japanese since the last generation. I would say PS4 was more western console, rather than japanese console. Yeah, they had japanese games - because of well market share - but japanese console is effectively Nintendo. If it gets more powerful Switch, it might get even bigger Japanese games and will become truly Japanese console.

I do think that Japanese games will come to Xbox - simply due to gamepass that covers XCloud and PC.
 
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Stuart360

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That's what I am talking about - Japan for some reason is ahead in trends, that hit western market later.
Decades ahead it seems as the last 2 gens showed consoles as big as ever in the west, and i dont think anyone would be surprised if combined sales of XSX/XSS/PS5 sell more than any gen yet.
 

On Demand

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This sounds like it’s based on employee assumptions and chatter.

If this were true Sony wouldn’t be launching PS5 in Japan on the 12th. Europe would have gotten that spot and Japan would be on the 19th or even next year.

Sometimes people have to pay attention to what’s actually happening in front of them instead of rumors and he said she said exaggerations.
 

ChuckeRearmed

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Decades ahead it seems as the last 2 gens showed consoles as big as ever in the west, and i dont think anyone would be surprised if combined sales of XSX/XSS/PS5 sell more than any gen yet.
The last two generations was basically Japan in 90s. Where MS could have become Sega, but it had deep pockets.
 
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Stuart360

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The last two generations was basically Japan in 90s. Where MS could have become Sega, but it has deep pockets.
Well cool but i think if mobile gaming was going to take over, like 'experts' said 15 years ago, it would of happened by now.
 

Yoboman

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I like to see their Japanese studios take a crack at big budget jrpg and cheaper wacky titles like ape escape.

Imo there is still variety from different culture. But by cutting dowm their budget to a third, it's almost gg.
Not what you meant but they are developing Demons Souls (with Bluepoint) and Astro right now for launch
 

bitbydeath

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They do have two launch titles releasing in a few days with a third (Polyphony) expected over the next few months. They do seem quite fluid though.
 
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ChuckeRearmed

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Well cool but i think if mobile gaming was going to take over, like 'experts' said 15 years ago, it would of happened by now.
Mobile gaming is making more money than the whole console market combined. Basically every person in the world has a mobile phone. It hasn't taken over yet, but it will. And I bet emerging markets are heavily skewed towards mobile gaming because a mobile phone is an irreplaceable device these days.

With Cloud gaming coming, people will eventually question whether they truly need to have a powerful gaming rig or console if they will be able to play the games in high/ultra settings remotely. And with 5G, Starlink and others access to the cloud will be bigger than ever.

P.s. Nintendo was certainly into something with Nintendo Switch - even mobile phones now allow to cast screens to TVs etc. and have docking stations or something. But eventually, Nintendo will hit the ceiling.
 
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Rhazer Fusion

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Yet, everybody is going to play Astro at launch, from one of the best Studios in Japan at this time. PD is cooking a storm with GT7, they thought a remake of Demon Souls would be necessary at launch....I don't see Japanese support dwindling anytime soon, if anything expect an increase in Japanese support, just like the PS1 era........PS5 is even more developer friendly than PS1, about a month to triangle. FF remakes and expansions, FF16 exclusivity, Nioh, Gravity Rush etc....Japanese support will be even better this gen. I expect a new NG, Silent Hill etc etc. etc....Perhaps even a new Castlevania and Metal Gear if the rumors are true....

While that is factual, I think what most people want to see is more imaginative high budget Japanese games from Sony’s first party studios come out on a regular basis. Sure, there will always be Japan studio and Polyphony(I hope), but I think they could churn out more offerings from their talented internal studios in addition to their non-Japanese studios.

I would love to see an admirably high budget Gravity Rush 3 or Legend of Dragoon 2 for example from Sony. Then again, the peculiar obsession with mobile games and portable games I feel is contributing to Sony’s decision as well. The somewhat lackluster PS4 sales in Japan probably aren’t helping either.
 
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Orta

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No more Astrobot then?

Fuck off Sony!
 

Matt_Fox

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The console market has been shrinking year after year since 2007 in Japan, whilst the mobile gaming market has risen.

It's a different market now and Sony is using its crystal ball to see the way the wind is blowing.
 

ShirAhava

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Sony has been moving in this direction for years now the writing is on the wall

I used to be a big PS guy for Japanese games I'm not going anywhere near the PS5

Expect a lot of Switch/PC only Japanese titles in gen hopefully XBOX will step up
 

Black_Stride

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This article has made so many clicks for bloomberg we have had like 4 threads on this exact topic.
 
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My favourite exclusives for the PS4 where Persona 5 and Bloodborne. If they stop putting this kind of games I might just not buy a Sony console ever again.

I mean, to each their own, but (imo) Sony western games have turned into the same two templates repeated over and over again, which is uninventive and kind of boring after playing some of them.
 

SentientStone

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I hope not, might as well buy MGS and Silent Hill from Konami and make Japan Studios the remakes and sequels Studio for a couple more generations. I love Japanese games myself and prefer them usually, though I have to admit I cannot recall the last Sony Japan game that I wanted to play outside of The Last Guardian.
 

supernova8

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Well, that part of their in house development hasn't really been a major factor recently. All the big hitters come from the US and EU teams. Except for Polyphony I suppose.

Personally I would've liked to see Evolution Studios given the Gran Turismo license. I find Polyphony's games boring as fuuuck ever since Forza came out (and Driveclub).