Microsoft is banking on the new popular trend of Vtubers to market the Xbox consoles in Japan, sponsoring two online personalities for advertising.
Microsoft is advertising the current Xbox Game Pass in Japan with popular Vtubers Botan and Luna. It seems that Microsoft is betting on the popularity of these Japanese Vtuber channels to help boost the Xbox fanbase in the country, a market that Microsoft has been struggling with for years.
Xbox has been trailing behind its major competitors Nintendo and Sony in Japan. While Japanese game sales and developers have been surging in recent years, Microsoft has failed to make an impact in the country, with major Japanese titles such as Persona 5 and Final Fantasy 7 remaining Sony exclusives. While Microsoft has finally made some progress in this department, with Kingdom Hearts, Dragon Quest and Yakuza all coming to the platform in the past few years, the company is still behind.
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Microsoft is taking another shot at the Japanese market, capitalizing on the rising online phenomena of Vtubers by signing a number of these personalities on for advertising purposes. These new sponsorships were first noticed by Windows Central, who reported on the news recently. These sponsored partnerships are targeted at the audiences of Vtubers Luna and Botan, who have almost a million followers between them, the majority of which seem to be Japanese.
Vtubers have the potential to become the next big trend for streamers, as the characters have now turned up on Twitch, YouTube and other popular streaming websites. Their distinct new aesthetic is accomplished by an app, such as FaceRig, which turns the Streamer into an anime character through a webcam. These anime characters can be fully customized, allowing content creators to make entirely new personas for themselves. This form of streaming has become extremely popular in Japan at the moment, and now Vtubers are starting to pop up all around the world.
This isn’t the only way Microsoft is approaching the Japanese market, since the company recently acquired a significant Japanese studio during the ZeniMax/Bethesda buyout. Tango Gameworks developed some of Bethesda’s horror games, including the Evil Within games and the upcoming Ghostwire: Tokyo. The studio was founded by Shinji Mikami, who is known for creating the famous Resident Evil franchise with Capcom. Even now that Microsoft owns Tango Gameworks, Ghostwire: Tokyo will still be a timed PS5 exclusive.
It’s yet to be seen just how well this kind of sponsored content marketing will work, but partnering with online personalities has been a popular method for companies for some time now. The entire influencer industry depends on these kinds of company relationships. That being said, Microsoft will likely need to partner up with a lot more than just two Vtubers to break out in the Japanese market.
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Source: Windows Central, Luna, Botan
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