Microsoft announced today during its Xbox showcase at the Tokyo Game Show that Cloud gaming would come to Japan in early 2021. On September 15, Microsoft officially launched Cloud Gaming (Project xCloud) on Android, allowing Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers in 22 markets to play over 150 Xbox Game Pass games on an Android phone or tablet at no additional charge.
The launch markets for Cloud gaming include the US, the UK, many European countries, as well as South Korea, but Japan wasn’t one of them. Xbox Game Pass wasn’t available in Japan until April of this year, but the gaming subscription service already had a big impact on Xbox Live usage in the country. "Monthly Active Users on Xbox Live in Japan grew 82 percent year over year during the summer, with acclaimed Japanese franchises like Yakuza and Dragon Quest available on Xbox Game Pass,” the Xbox team said today.
Microsoft’s Xbox brand has had a hard time competing with Sony and Nintendo since the launch of the original Xbox console in the country back in 2002. However, the Xbox team is willing to be more aggressive for this new console generation, and both the Xbox Series X and Series S will launch in Japan on November 10. As you may recall, the Xbox One didn’t launch in Japan until September 2014, nearly a year after the console launched in the US and Europe.
With Cloud Gaming, Microsoft aims to reach the 3 billion gamers worldwide, but the company won't be able to do that without having xCloud on iOS, Windows 10 PCs, smart TVs, and other devices. According to data from Kantar Worldpanel for Q2 2020, iOS has a 49.7% usage share in Japan, compared to 43.1% in the US and 37.8% in the UK.
Microsoft announced earlier this week that Xbox Game Pass had crossed 15 million subscribers worldwide, though we still don't know how many of them are using Cloud Gaming on Android. Anyway, Xbox head Phil Spencer said in an interview with Bloomberg that “We’re committed to bringing xCloud to all mobile endpoints, including Apple’s big ecosystem.”