Xbox One is coming to Korea on September 23. It’s already out in other places like Chile and Columbia. It got embarrassed in Japan. Xbox Wire has a full list of other places it will be released this month.
The strategy is to open up new markets to try and save something that’s clearly dying. Unfortunately, I just don’t see how it can succeed in Korea.
1) The Land of the Morning Calm has the players – good, hard core players that consoles rely on. But they’re mostly PC players. There are lucrative reasons to play PC. Will Xbox have enough oomph to pull these gamers away from Starcraft, et al? Not likely.
2) The place is also high-tech and has the income levels for luxury items like this. But there have been heavy regulations for consoles. And why would Koreans purchase consoles when they can play quality games on already-owned PCs. There is also heavy competition from mobile devices and more and more from set-top boxes. Consoles in general have been on the decline, and will probably disappear completely soon or morph into something else.
3) Sewol. The entire country is still recovering from this tragedy. I was at Haeundae Beach in Busan early August. Usually the place is packed that time of the year, but it was half empty. Koreans in general are not in the mood for entertainment, vacations and luxuries.
4) Koreans don’t have time. Kids are at school or studying from seven in the morning to ten at night. They might be able to sneak in an hour of gaming on PC between studies, but won’t be able to come home and sit behind a console for an hour. Fathers go to work early, stay late in mandatory drinking sessions with their bosses.
I was a huge Xbox fan when it first came out and was hoping it would adapt a bit more, and be an industry changer. But like everything Microsoft, they fell flat, failed to innovate and disrupt. They’ve also had weird business practices. You have to know when to cut your losses.