PSPgo In Japan, Month Two

By the end of its first full month on sale in Japan the PSPgo was achieving sales roughly equivalent to the Xbox, if sales of those levels can be called an achievement.  Since then things have only got worse for Sony’s sliding, download-only console.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here is a graph of December’s console sales in Japan according the figures published by Media Create.

Japanese December Hardware Sales - All


No prizes for guessing which week FFXIII released on the PS3 as the huge spike where it trebled the previous week’s sales kind of gives it away.  We are occasionally accused of not giving the PS3 the recognition for its sales success outside of America, which I disagree with, so here is a little factoid for you: during the five weeks of sales in the above graph the PS3 outsold the 360 by more than fifteen to one with sales of 594,841 versus 38,292.

Unfortunately for Sony though, the main subject of this post is not the sales success of the PS3.  In what may be a Newtonian reaction to the PS3’s strong sales, the PSPgo is having a much tougher time at finding gamers willing to give it a home.  The cluster of lines at the bottom of the above graph are hard to make out so I have created another one “zoomed in” on that region.  Note that it does not start at zero as I wanted to increase the separation between the lines.

Japanese December Hardware Sales - PSPgo, PS2, 360

No your eyes are not deceiving you.  In the final week of 2009, or the first week of 2010 if you prefer, the PSPgo was outsold in Japan by the PS2!  The oldest of Sony’s currently available consoles, which will celebrate its tenth anniversary in Japan on March 4th, outsold the newest.  In the technology-hungry Land of the Rising Sun surely that can only be classed as an unmitigated disaster.

In the five weeks detailed here the 360 which itself is often derided as a poor-selling console in Japan has outsold the PSPgo by more than 2-to-1 (38,292 vs. 17,844).  Its sibling the UMD-equipped PSP has outsold it by almost 26-to-1 (457,671 vs. 17,844) over the same period.  Trying to do the struggling PSPgo a favour by totalling all its sales since launch in Japan and comparing those to the PSP that ratio only falls to a little over 8-to-1 (636,727 vs. 75,755) in favour of the PSP.

I have always considered the PSPgo to be a misguided and mistimed experiment on Sony’s part, but that does not mean I enjoy seeing it suffer like this.  I would be very happy to be proved wrong and for it to succeed.  To do that though it would likely have to sell for around the same price as the existing PSP-3000 to make it a viable alternative to the PSPs it sits alongside on the store shelves.  The PSP-4000 rumoured to be in the works for release this year will only increase pressure on the PSPgo.

Those few people I know that have bought a PSPgo, including some of the staff here at TSA, all say what a great little machine it is.  Universally they praise its more diminutive size and the quality of its screen.  However, it offers little, or no, incentive to someone upgrading from an older PSP due to its lack of compatibility with their existing games on UMD and the fact that you become tied to paying whatever Sony wants to charge for games on the PSN Store instead of the more competitive prices to be found on UMDs at retail.

It also seems to be failing to attract the all-important early-adopters that Sony were hoping would pay the premium price for it if Japan’s sales over the holiday period are anything to go by.  It ended/began the year as the worst selling console in its home market.  The margin may have been small, but that is a pretty damning fact.  Sony’s Q3 figures, released at the end of this month, will make for interesting reading whether they reveal that the PSPgo is failing worldwide or whether Europe and US are showing it more love than the Japanese.

After all that bad news for the PSPgo it seems appropriate to end on a high note for it.  It has taken some finding, but I have got one.  At CES last week the plucky little PSPgo won the Innovations Design and Engineering Showcase award in the Electronic Gaming Hardware category.  So congratulations to the PSPgo!

PSPgo's CES Innovation Award
(Image credit: SonyInsider)