Microsoft has appointed former PlayStation executive Mena Sato Kato as its director of partnerships for Japan.
“I will be leading partnership efforts to support our Japanese partners globally,” she wrote on LinkedIn. “Opening up a new chapter, unlocking new experiences in the game industry. I hope to see many of you at TGS!”
Commenting on coverage of the news, Microsoft’s head of gaming Phil Spencer tweeted: “Glad to have Mena leading our work on Japanese partnerships for Team Xbox.”
Prior to joining Microsoft, Mena Sato Kato held various roles at Sony between 1999 and 2021, including a seven-year spell leading business development for first-party PlayStation game development in Japan.
Xbox will be an exhibitor at this year’s Tokyo Game Show, which will run from September 21-24 and be the largest event in the history of the annual trade fair, according to organiser the Computer Entertainment Supplier’s Association.
Microsoft has made renewed efforts in Japan with Xbox Series X/S. The consoles launched day-and-date with other territories and Xbox boss Spencer committed early on to better cater to Japanese players this console generation.
In an interview with Game Watch conducted at last year’s Tokyo Game Show, Spencer acknowledged demand for original Japanese games on Xbox.
“It’s not too much to hope for,” he said. “We’ve just met with Kojima-san from Kojima Productions and many other game creators to talk about bringing unique titles to the Xbox.
“We understand that many game fans want that. We are also aware of the common desire for games from Japan. We are working on creating such titles, so please look forward to it.”
Spencer was asked about Xbox’s relationship with Japanese gamers in a separate interview with Famitsu at TGS.
“I have a lot of acquaintances and friends who make games in Japan,” he said. “Many of them we’ve known for a long time, and we’ve been asking, ‘What do you need for our platform?’
“We have listened to Japanese game creators and received feedback. I think the fact that we have been able to improve has led to trust, which in turn has led to games being released on Xbox. I think that feedback loop will lead to many more Japanese games in the future, and I am happy about this trend.”
It was announced last month that Square Enix’s Final Fantasy 14 will finally be released for Xbox consoles in 2024, following a decade of PlayStation console exclusivity.
Spencer made a surprise appearance at the Final Fantasy 14 Fan Festival in Las Vegas, where he appeared on stage with Square Enix CEO Takashi Kiryu and Final Fantasy 14 director Naoki Yoshida, to announce that the game was coming to Xbox Series X/S.
During an interview with IGN last week, Spencer wouldn’t be drawn on whether other PlayStation exclusives like Final Fantasy 7 Remake and Final Fantasy 16 will also come to Xbox, but he said the Japanese publisher’s commitment to Xbox was “really important”.
“I recognise that when people buy an Xbox, they want to make sure the great games that they want to play are coming,” he said. “If there’s any publisher out there where that hasn’t been true, Square’s one of the top.
“Sarah Bond [Corporate Vice President, Game Creator Experience and Ecosystem at Microsoft] and I fly to Tokyo and have conversations, and we’ve spent a lot of time with Square. There’s obviously business deals and relationships that will have to get worked through on certain games.
“But I’ll say it was really great to have the CEO of Square and Yoshi there to just talk about their commitment to Xbox. Because I can say, like, ‘I’m the head of Xbox, blah blah blah,’ but having the CEO of one of the third-parties make a commitment to the platform, I thought was a really meaningful step.
“So you’ll hear more,” he continued. “I’m not going to push them. They’re going to have to find their own rhythm. But having them make a commitment to Xbox was really important both to me, and I’ve heard it from the community, to the community as well. And 14 was more of a commitment.”
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