Article written by Greg Aldridge.
Published on 11/04/2011 at 04:00 PM.
Keeping half an eye on the Japanese console sales during March has felt like an even more trivially important exercise than normal. With the North East of Japan still struggling to come to terms with the devastation wrought by the earthquake and subsequent tsunami the question of which consoles are selling the best seems utterly inconsequential. Though as the Japanese people are demonstrating with their remarkable stoicism, even in these most extreme of circumstances you carry on as best as you can.
There has been an impressive response to charity appeals worldwide, but charitable donations, including the more than $1.3 million donated by gamers through Sony’s PSN, will only go so far. In the end it will be Japan’s industrial and technological might that generates the finances to rebuild. A rebuilding that has so far been estimated to cost as much as ¥25 trillion ($309bn, £189bn). So in a way the performance of Japan’s companies is more important than it was a month ago.
Moving on from that all-to-brief and superficial reflection on the continuing situation in Japan, let’s return to our regular monthly look at how the console sales fight has played out in Japan over the last few weeks.
Whenever we are looking back over a five week period, purely for arbitrary reasons, we take a comparative look at the unit sales of the PS2 and PSPgo. To make it a little more interesting this month and to demonstrate that it is not necessarily always Sony consoles propping up both the home and handheld sales charts we have included two more consoles.
In the week ending 3rd April, as the graph demonstrates, the two consoles at the foot of the home and handheld charts were the Xbox 360 and the DS Lite. Despite what others may be saying the 360′s presence there is not the console “running out of steam”, it has just returned to the level of sales it was experiencing in Japan before the release of the 360 S. That and it was a stronger than average week for the PS2.
The fact that the oldest of the DS range currently on sale, the DS Lite, finds itself below the PSPgo for three of the five weeks we are looking at is, of course, due to the 3DS. Sales of all the variants of the DS console fell in anticipation of the 3DS’ launch and the DS Lite had already been nominally superceded in the DS line-up.
Notwithstanding the technological improvements, in terms of form factor the 3DS itself now also replaces the DS Lite. The Lite, the 2nd generation of the DS and arguably such a successful refresh of the original that it was responsible for the DS’ worldwide domination of the handheld console market, surely cannot have long left even as the budget option in the range.
Week Ending March 6th
The second week following the launch of the 3DS saw a timely release exploit the PSPs installed base to dominate the charts again. Also as in the previous week it was a long-established franchise that took spot. Dissidia 012: Duodecim Final Fantasy (with sales of 286k copies) made an unsurprising début at number one outselling the second place game, the PS3′s Way of the Samurai 4 (70k), by more than four to one.
Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask (59k) for the 3DS held onto its third place spot as last week’s number two, SD Gundam G Generation World (46k) fell to fourth. Rounding out the top five is the 3DS installment of the perennial DS favourite, Nintendogs + Cats (45k).
Last week’s number one, Phantasy Star Portable 2 Infinity (42k) is found in sixth, followed by a new DS release, Digimon Story: Super Xros Wars Blue / Red (36k). The top ten’s final three are the 3DS’ Samurai Warriors: Chronicles (30k) and two PSP titles, the ever-present Monster Hunter Portable 3rd (26k) and the newly released Star Driver Kagayaki no Takuto Ginga Shojo Densetsu (21k) which is based on the Star Driver animé TV series.
Week Ending March 13th
In the week of the quake it was a PS3 title that topped the chart as Dynasty Warriors 7 (253k) massively outsold Dissidia 012: Duodecim Final Fantasy (65k) pusing it down into second place. Third place once again goes to Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask (29k) on the 3DS. In fourth is PSP new release Rurouni Kenshin: Meiji Kenkaku Romantan Saisen (24.3k) just ahead of Nintendogs + Cats (23.8k).
Positions six through nine are owned by the PSP titles Phantasy Star Portable 2 Infinity (21k) SD Gundam G Generation World (20k) Monster Hunter Portable 3rd (18.5k) and Fairy Tail Portable Guild 2 (18.1k). Propping up the top ten is the PS3 title Way of the Samurai 4 (17k).
Week Ending March 20th
In the aftermath of the quake many of the releases scheduled for this week were postponed leaving the first eight places in the top ten to the recent versions of Japan’s big-selling franchises. The top three was entirely unchanged; Dynasty Warriors 7 (67k) Dissidia 012: Duodecim Final Fantasy (31k) and Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask (18k).
Phantasy Star Portable 2 Infinity (16k) climbed back to fourth with Monster Hunter Portable 3rd (14.77k) doing just enough to beat Nintendogs + Cats (14.72k) into fifth place. Seventh and eighth were taken by SD Gundam G Generation World (14.2k) and Way of the Samurai 4 (13.8k) respectively, leaving the last two spots in the top ten to two new releases, Powerful Golf (10.1k) on the DS and the PSP’s Hanaoni Koi Hajimeru Kaku Eikyuu no In (10.0k).
With it being an understandably quiet week in terms of game sales a number of older titles came close to breaking back into the top ten. In eleventh was Pokemon Black/White (8.6k) with two Wii titles Donkey Kong Country Returns (7.4k) and Wii Party (7.1k) making it up to thirteenth and fourteenth.
Week Ending March 27th
The succession of strong PSP releases coinciding with the launch of the 3DS continued this week as Final Fantasy IV Complete Collection (104k) easily took first place in the software chart ahead of Dynasty Warriors 7 (37k) and helped the PSP come within a few hundred units of topping the 3DS in the week’s hardware chart.
Japan’s favourite giant robots gained both a third dimension and third place with the release of Gundam The 3D Battle (23.5k) on the 3DS. The PSP’s other current Final Fantasy title Dissidia 012: Duodecim Final Fantasy (22k) was fourth while Monster Hunter Portable 3rd (16.4k) continued its chart presence in fifth.
3DS and PSP titles alternated for the next four places; Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask (16.2k) finally surrendering its third place spot, followed by Phantasy Star Portable 2 Infinity (14k) Nintendogs + Cats (13k) and SD Gundam G Generation World (10.1k). Taking advantage of another quiet sales week, Pokemon Black/White (10.0k) returned to complete the top ten.
Week Ending April 3rd
The 3DS may not yet have a sufficient number of consoles in gamers’ hands to compete for the top of the software chart against the recent string of PSP releases, but the DS family can. Dragon Quest Monsters Joker 2 Professional (163k) an update to last year’s Joker 2 title comfortably beat new PSP release Ebikore+ Amagami (69k) into second place.
In third and fourth were last week’s top two Final Fantasy IV Complete Collection (31k) and Dynasty Warriors 7 (26k) ahead of another title giving us a demonstration of the benefit of an established installed base of console hardware. BlazBlue Continuum Shift II released this week on both PSP and 3DS. While the PSP version sold 23.8K copies to reach fifth, the 3DS version could only make twenty second which is below the point where Media Create report sales figures. All we know is that on the 3DS it sold less than the 6,521 copies Gundam The 3D Battle sold to reach twentieth place.
Sixth place this week is taken by the PlayStation 2 (!) version of Ebikore+ Amagami (17k). Chart resident (15.8k) is next just ahead of (15.2k). They are followed by the week’s top-selling 3DS new release, Pro Baseball Famisuta 2011 (13k) with Phantasy Star Portable 2 Infinity (12k) taking the last of the top ten places.
The Monthly Console and Corporate Fights
Looking at the month as a whole the PS3 beat the Wii by almost 3:1 (141,373 vs. 52,954), the DSs beat the PSPs (545,105 vs. 255,584) and as the opening graph made clear the PS2 outsold the PSPgo by more than 2:1 (8,594 vs. 3,923).
Overall shares of the month’s hardware unit sales saw Nintendo unsurprisingly take the largest slice of the pie. Out of the 1,013,130 consoles sold Nintendo accounted for 59% (598,059), Sony 40% (405,551) and Microsoft 0.9% (9,520).
Finally, here is what the month’s raw numbers look like:
Source: Media Create
Accessories Addendum: It is not often we get to hear about how well accessories are selling. Back when the NPD Group’s data on American sales was useful, before they started doing their utmost to make themselves irrelevant, the best we got was a monthly total of dollar value sales of the accessories category as a whole.
Once again though, Japan has come through for us. A Media Create report seen by andriasang has given the unit sales figures for three key accessories; Torne, Move and Kinect. Torne, effectively the Japanese version of PlayTV which also happens to award trophies for watching TV, has been out since last March and came top out of the three with 784,000 sales.
Given that the PlayStation 3 has a substantially larger installed base than the Xbox 360 in Japan, that Move beat Kinect, 170,000 vs. 90,000, should not come as a surprise. As the ratio is less than 2:1 though and multiple Moves may be used with a single PS3, it is clear that Kinect’s ‘attach rate’ (the proportion of consoles with the accessory) is significantly higher than Move’s.
P.S. I have discovered that putting the Blu-ray of The Airborne Toxic Event’s Walt Disney Concert Hall performance on in the ‘background’ while trying to write a post, which seemed like a good idea at the time, is not conducive to speedy writing! It’s a very good watch/listen though. Highly recommended. :-)