Microsoft sets sights on Sony’s home turf in console clash

Microsoft sets sights on Sony’s home turf in console clash

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 is 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.