At Microsoft’s E3 2018 presentation, Head of Xbox Phil Spencer teased that the next generation of Xbox consoles was already in development, but stopped short of providing any concrete details. There’s still much we don’t know about the next-gen Xbox console, but thanks to an interview Spencer gave to Japanese magazine Famitsu, we do know that Japanese developers are actively involved in its development.
Spencer didn’t name any specific Japanese companies that are providing input for the next Xbox, but he did say that Microsoft has asked Japanese devs what kind of innovations they want to see in the industry that could be incorporated in the new system. Spencer himself has traveled to Japan to meet with various publishers and developers in the country, and he believes that he is successfully building a bond between them and Microsoft.
Microsoft has traditionally struggled with its console sales in Japan, despite numerous efforts by the company to gain a foothold in the region. Its most significant effort came during the Xbox 360 era, when it released a number of Japanese-focused exclusive games, including some titles made by Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi like Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey. Because of this, even if the next Xbox is truly being made with input from Japanese developers, it doesn’t necessarily guarantee that the console will be a success in Japan.
For the most part, the Japanese gaming market has been dominated by Nintendo, Sony, and mobile gaming. Since exclusive games from the creator of Final Fantasy (one of the most popular gaming franchises in Japan’s history) failed to draw Japanese consumers to Xbox, it seems like Microsoft has an uphill battle ahead of itself if it hopes to rectify its past sales failures in the country.
Of course, we still know next to nothing about what the next Xbox will entail. We know that its codename is Scarlet, and there have been suggestions that it will actually consist of a family of consoles, not just a single release.
Spencer has also said that the next Xbox will focus on framerate and starting games quicker, but beyond that, there’s very little to go on. Fans should expect to learn more about the next Xbox and other ways Microsoft plans to appeal to the Japanese audience when more is likely revealed next year.