Microsoft teams up with Japanese game studios

Sep 16, 2010 By TOMOKO A. HOSAKA , Associated Press Writer

(AP) -- Microsoft Corp. kicked off the Tokyo Game Show Thursday by unveiling plans to help Japanese game makers - recently seen as insular and lagging overseas competitors - to aggressively pursue a bigger share of the global market.

In a keynote address, Phil Spencer, head of Microsoft's games division, announced five new partnerships with Japanese studios and declared the country's creativity as key to the Xbox 360 console's future.

"Japanese games are the games that the world loves to play," Spencer said, noting the Japanese origins of classic arcade games like Donkey Kong and Pac-Man.

The Tokyo Game Show, which runs through Sunday, is Asia's largest video game trade show. More than 185,000 people attended last year's event.

The game industry in Japan has engaged in frequent hand-wringing in recent years over signs of decline: insularity and a shrinking home market, a dearth of young developers and a sense that it had fallen behind Western .

At the 2008 Tokyo Game Show, the chief executive of Square Enix Holdings Co., a major Japanese , made waves when he declared that Japan had lost its place as the world's video-game leader. While Japanese titles used to dominate, their popularity in the West has receded as U.S. companies like Electronic Arts and Activision grab market share.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has been on a bit of a roll lately. The Xbox 360 was the best-selling console in the U.S. three months in a row, according to market research firm NPD Group. It shipped 356,700 units in August, up about 66 percent from last year.

The console is No. 1 across Europe as well, Spencer said. Microsoft appears to have a blockbuster on its hands with the latest edition of its popular "Halo" first-person shooter franchise. Released Tuesday, "Halo: Reach" made $200 million on its first day alone, making it the biggest entertainment debut this year.

The Redmond, Wash.-based company also has high hopes for Kinect, its new controller-free gaming system that goes on sale in North America on Nov. 4.

Once known as Project Natal, Kinect stretches the concept of motion capture that propelled the Nintendo Wii's global success. Instead of a hand-held controller, Kinect relies instead on a camera system that recognizes gestures and voices, enabling players to control on-screen avatars in action and sports games simply by moving their own bodies.

Spencer said Microsoft's momentum represents an "incredible opportunity" for both Japanese developers and his own company.

"We've seen the industry move to a place where we're trying to engage more and more people to play games," Spencer said after the keynote. "And that plays to the strength of what Japanese game design history is all about.

Microsoft has inked deals with five Japanese companies - Spike Co., Treasure Co., NanaOn-Sha Co., Grounding Inc., Grasshopper Manufacture Inc. - all of which are developing Xbox-exclusive games for release in 2011.

Goichi Suda, CEO of Grasshopper Manufacture, told the crowd that his company is working on a core action for the Kinect called "Codename D."

Kinect will be sold bundled with the Xbox or as a stand-alone system, which can be connected to existing consoles. It will cost $150 in the U.S. and 14,800 yen in Japan.

Explore further: Out-of-patience investors sell off Amazon

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Microsoft to launch Kinect in Japan in November

Sep 08, 2010

Microsoft's long-awaited Kinect motion-sensing system for the Xbox 360 videogame console will hit the Japanese market in November, the company said Wednesday, as competition in the sector heats up.

Tokyo Game Show kicks off with turnaround hopes

Sep 24, 2009

(AP) -- The Tokyo Game Show, billed as the world's largest computer entertainment fest, kicked off Thursday with hopes that depressed sales of game consoles will enjoy a holiday resurrection.

Microsoft links new smart phones to Xbox Live

Aug 17, 2010

(AP) -- Microsoft Corp. is bringing its video-game expertise to the forthcoming Windows Phone 7 line, an attempt to capitalize on the success of the Xbox 360 as the software maker tries to compete with Apple Inc.'s iPhone.

Xbox exec Shane Kim to retire after 19 years

Sep 15, 2009

(AP) -- Shane Kim, the Microsoft Corp. executive who oversaw the growth of its video game business from the original Xbox and through such hits as "Halo" and "Gears of War," is retiring after 19 years with the software maker.

Recommended for you

Out-of-patience investors sell off Amazon

8 hours ago

Amazon has long acted like an ideal customer on its own website: a freewheeling big spender with no worries about balancing a checkbook. Investors confident in founder and CEO Jeff Bezos' invest-and-expand ...

States ascend into the cloud

15 hours ago

Seven years ago, the state of Delaware started moving computer servers out of closets and from under workers' desks to create a consolidated data center and a virtual computing climate.

Microsoft drops Nokia name from smartphones

17 hours ago

Microsoft said Friday it was dropping the Nokia name from its Lumia smartphones, rebranding following the acquisition earlier this year of the Finnish group's handset division.

Amazon's loss makes holidays a question mark

17 hours ago

Amazon's trademark smile icon is becoming more of a grimace. The world's largest online retailer reported a wider third-quarter loss than analysts expected and gave a disappointing holiday forecast.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Sep 16, 2010
Gee, Microsoft knows how to waste the money they charge us to buy there software. No wonder it is so expensive, they play games with it!