Last Month In Japan

Japan, land of both PSP success and failure, depending on whether you examine PSP-3000 or PSPgo sales.  We often look at Media Create’s weekly Japanese hardware sales data but we normally have a specific reason for doing so, whether it be to praise the PS3 for outselling everything else for the first time or to look on in horror at the PSPgo’s continuing complete lack of sales success.

This is the first of what will be our regular monthly look at the highs and lows of the weekly sales figures in Japan over the previous month.  You will be able to compare and contrast these numbers with the monthly NPD results from America, all the while wishing the UK and Europe would regularly report numbers to make it a fair three-way fight.

As we have not taken a look at Japanese hardware sales since the beginning of January when the PSPgo started to be outsold by the PS2 you get two months for the price of one as we catch up with both January’s and February’s sales.  As an extra special treat we also bring you the recently released lifetime sales for the Wii, PS3 and Xbox 360.

January Sales

Throughout most of January sales followed their normal and expected post-Holiday decline.  There are a few points of note however, mostly just reiterating how important software is when it comes to selling hardware, something we can see in illustrated in Japan’s sales as we can access weekly numbers.

In the week ending 10th January PSP sales, alone amongst all the consoles, actually increase.  This corresponds to the release of the RPG Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep, which sold almost 450,000 copies in the week.

The next time sales buck the downward trend is in the final week of January when sales of the PS3 and the three current flavours of Nintendo’s DS all show modest rises.  The ever-popular Dragon’s Quest was responsible for the DS’s improved sales as a remake of DQ VI hit stores and promptly sold over 900,000 copies.

Of note to Nintendo-watchers is that the DSi LL seems by the end of the month to have settled into first place in DS sales having been displaced over the Xmas and New Year weeks by the DSi.  Maybe Sony should ask Nintendo for some tips on how to reinvigorate interest in a handheld console with a hardware refresh?

The rise in PS3 sales was driven by the release of another RPG, Sega’s End of Eternity, which had pretty good sales for a PS3 release of almost 120,000.  This week also gave us a good chance to compare Japan’s RPG-love with its FPS-ambivalence as MAG also became available and sold barely a sixth as many copies as End Of Eternity, about 19,000.

Japan Hardware Sales - January

It is hard to see from the graph that the PS2 outsold the PSPgo all month so here’s the unit sales figures for the three worst-selling consoles in handy tabular format:

3rd Jan 10th Jan 17th Jan 24th Jan 31st Jan Jan Total
360 6,878 5,461 4,622 3,343 4,089 24,393
PS2 4,023 3,092 2,580 2,088 2,182 13,965
PSPgo 3,903 2,841 2,027 1,773 1,645 12,189

February Sales

The PSP had a strong start to the month due to release of Namco Bandai’s answer to Capcom’s Monster Hunter, God Eater, which sold 295,000 copies in its first week and went on to pass the half million mark before the end of the month.

PlayStation 3 saw a healthy bump in sales in the third week thanks to the release of Biohazard 5 Alternative Editon, known of course as Resident Evil 5 Gold Edition in The West.  That new edition of last year’s game sold over 143,000 in the same week that Heavy Rain made its début with sales of almost 27,000.

The final week of the month saw PSP sales receive another boost with the release of the ‘school thug sim’ Kenka Bancho 4 One Year War, which amongst other product placements has players visit branded Asahi vending machines to buy Asahi drinks which act as power-ups.  Unlike Fallout’s Nuka-Cola though these are a real brand and do not contribute to your level of irradiation.

Japan Weekly Hardware Sales - February

When strong rumours of a new UMD-less PSP began circulating around a year ago there cannot have been many people, especially inside Sony, who would have been willing to bet that the ten year old PS2 would be outselling it month after month.  With February being the second consecutive month of the PS2 outselling the PSPgo every week the question is changing from “what will Sony do to reverse PSPgo’s fortunes” to “what can Sony do to reverse PSPgo’s fortunes”.

Lifetime Sales

Japan’s other console-counting organisation, Enterbrain, have released lifetime sales numbers for the Wii, PS3 and 360, seemingly to celebrate the fact that the Wii has just passed the 10m mark.

As of the 28 February, Enterbrain’s numbers are:

  1. Nintendo Wii – 10,009,736
  2. Sony PlayStation 3 – 4,766,408
  3. Microsoft Xbox 360 – 1,235,049

If you are looking for a positive Sony spin to put on the Wii’s sales domination in Japan, then you can take heart from the fact that while the Wii has taken 170 weeks to reach 10m sales, the PS2 only took 131 weeks.

That is enough numbers for now though we should have February’s American NPD figures for you next week and we will take another retrospective look at Japan’s weekly hardware sales next month.