Japan’s January Console Sales

Last August, as is common for the summer, was a quiet month for console sales in Japan. That was especially true for the PSPgo as it recorded its lowest weekly unit sales total in the week ending on the 15th.  That week according to Media Create’s data it sold just 608 units.

Whoever SCEJ’s PSPgo product manager is will not have been happy to have seen that record smashed this past January.  In the week ending 23rd January the PSPgo sold just 198 units.  A number sufficiently low that the PS2 outsold it that week by a ratio of more than 9:1!


While console sales usually decline during January as they fall away from their holiday highs and falls of 50% from week to week are common, the PSPgo’s decline was particularly precipitous as it tumbled from 4,084 to 1,208 (-70%) to 198 (-84%).  It did follow that in the final week with a climb of 41% but this close to the low end of the set of natural numbers (ℕ for the mathematicians reading) that only took sales of an additional 82 consoles.

I would posit that the PSPgo’s especially large post-holiday hangover has one probable cause; Sony’s En Gee Pee.  I suspect those who would have bought the high-end model PSP are now awaiting the release of the NGP and that is why the ‘go has simply stopped selling.  As I am a week late writing this due to a number overload last Sunday the data for the first week in February is available and it gets even worse for the PSPgo.

What the PSPgo did help Sony achieve this month was to once again top-and-tail the hardware chart.  However, whereas it has normally been the PSP(-3000) leading the pack, in January it was the PS3.

That feat is all the more impressive as the PS3 saw no ‘big title’ releases during the month.  Indeed, the PS3 title which saw the largest weekly sales total was the distinctly-not-J RPG Dragon Age: Origins which finally got its Japanese release in the final week of the month.

Having highlighted the PSPgo’s precipitous fall it is only fair to look at what has happened to PSP sales.  In the week ending January 2nd (which I covered in the December post as that’s the month most of that week’s days belonged to) the PSP sold 99,703 units.  In the following two weeks its unit sales were 28,757 (-71%) and 9,806(-46%).  Media Create attributed those falls to supply shortages resulting from the extraordinary sales the PSP has seen following Monster Hunter 3rd’s release.

That the PSP seems to have bounced back in the latter half of January suggests Sony’s supply is catching up with demand once more.  Unless Sony has actually stopped making the PSPgo, and I am not suggesting they have, I do not think its sales are hampered by a shortage of supply.

February will be an interesting month for the PSP for a number of reasons.  Not only is Sony’s announcement of the NGP (which Japanese gamers seemingly “really want“) likely to have an impact but there is also the 3DS to consider.  Nintendo’s new handheld is likely to cannibalise sales of other hardware in the run-up to its release in March.  A final factor are the new PSP bundles being released in Japan during the month.

Two Monster Hunter bundles launched a couple of days ago on the 10th giving gamers a choice between a black and red or white and blue coloured PSP on which to play the bundled game.  Then on the 17th, Sony is releasing the “PlayStation Portable Value Pack For Girls” (really, that’s its official name, it’s on the box) which includes a “blossom pink” PSP and accessories in complimentary hues.

Anyway, that’s enough conjecture and pondering, let’s get back to some actual data…

Week Ending January 9th

Monster Hunter Watch: Weekly sales 133.6k, down 150.3k.  Total sales 3.98m.

Beginning 2011 the way it had finished 2010 Monster Hunter Portable 3rd used the many teeth and claws at its disposal to cling onto top spot in the software chart for the sixth week in a row.  Nintendo locked out the remainder of the top five with Donkey Kong Country Returns, Wii Party, Pokemon Black/White and Mario Sports Mix.  Notably Pokemon surpassed the 5 million mark this week reaching a total 5,012,327.

Level Five’s Studio Gibli collaboration Ni no Kuni was in sixth spot followed by Gundam Musou 3 on the PS3.  The top ten’s only new entry is up next with Square Enix’s SaGa 3 Shadow or Light on the DS appearing in eighth place just ahead of The 3rd Birthday and New Super Mario Bros. Wii.

Week Ending January 16th

Monster Hunter Watch: Weekly sales 68.3k, down 65.3k.  Total sales 4.05m.

In the week that it staggered over the 4 million mark Monster Hunter finally lost the top spot.  Giant robots beat the giant monsters down into second place as Another Century’s Episode Portable on the PSP notched up just over 70k of sales.  The robots and monsters were followed by a barrel-throwing ape with Donkey Kong a distant third.  Ni no Kuni just edged out AKB1/48 Idol to Koi Shitara by around 400 units to take fourth.

Arcana 3 on the PS3 was the week’s highest new entry, débuting in sixth place.  Top ten regulars Wii Party, Pokemon, Gundam and Mario Sports Mix made up the rest of the top ten.  Mass Effect 2 finally saw its Japanese release on the 360 a week ahead of the its Western launch on the PS3.  In a quiet week its sales of 8,864 were enough to see the Normandy and her crew enter the software chart at fifteen.

Week Ending January 23rd

Monster Hunter Watch: Weekly sales 43.2k, down 25.1k.  Total sales 4.09m.

With last week’s number one, Another Century’s Episode Portable falling way down to number 11, the task of keeping Monster Hunter off the top of the chart fell to another new PSP release, Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Final Mix, which comfortably beat MH with sales of over 77k.  Donkey Kong once again finds itself in third place.

In fourth is a new entry for a Namco game Kaijyu Busters Powered which Google Translate calls Powered Monster Busters.  Having more fun with online translation over at the game’s page on Namco’s site I learn it features “Monstrous beast suppression action”.  Where’s Lee when you need someone who can read Japanese?  The game’s artwork shows what look like minigun-equipped Motorstorm: Apocalypse racers in combat with something resembling a wrecking ball-toting triceratops.  Will this have the same effect on Kris as Dan supposed Combat of Giants Dinosaurs 3D would have when he went hands on with the 3DS?

Positions five through nine are filled with AKB1/48 Idol, Ni no Kuni, a rebounding-from-nowhere Inasuma Eleven 3 and Wii Party.  In tenth is another new PSP entry in the form of Venus & Braves Majo to Megami to Horobi no Yogen which is a port of a PS2 strategy game.

Week Ending January 30th

I think it’s time to end my Monster Hunter watch as this week saw it pushed down to 7th place in the charts.  The six places above it were all occupied by new releases.  Taking top spot was Wii RPG The Last Story.  That was followed by four new PSP titles led by Valkyria Chronicles 3.  That latest tale of events in Gallia had the highest first week sales of the series with almost 103k copies sold.

Next is the bizarrely titled My Little Sister Can’t Possibly Be This Cute Portable which Namco asserts is the “ultimate little sister game”.  I’m not going to risk Googling for any more information about a Japanese game with a name like that!  In fourth and fifth are two more games I know absolutely nothing about  Kenka Bancho 5 and A Certain Magical Index.

In sixth place is the PS3 version of Dragon Age: Origins which I mentioned at the start.  It recorded sales of almost 43k copies compared to the 14k the 360 version achieved which were in turn good enough to see that version beat Mass Effect 2’s début position by entering the chart in eleventh.

As mentioned above, MH could only make seventh spot.  In eighth was another of the four 360 titles in the top twenty, Dream Club Zero, which in its quirky Japanese (read, questionably moral) way allows you to molest virtual hostesses.  No wonder a 360 title made it so far up the Japanese charts!  The final two places in the top ten were occupied by Kingdom Hearts Final Mix and Donkey Kong.

Those other two 360 titles in the top twenty?  Another “quirky Japanese” title featuring young girls, Gal Gun, and a Monster Hunter game, Monster Hunter Frontier Online Season 10 Premium Package.  Seems Japanese 360 owners aren’t only playing Western-style games, stereotypical Japanese ones get a look-in too.

The Monthly Console and Corporate Fights

Having a look at the regular monthly sales fights the PS3 beat the Wii (141,743 vs. 111,833).  Taking revenge for that loss in the home console fight the DSs beat the PSPs (164,741 vs. 114,617) while the PS2 had to look over its shoulder and into the distance to see the PSPgo (7,950 vs. 5,770).

Overall shares of the month’s hardware unit sales saw Nintendo take a small lead over Sony.  Out of the 553,230 consoles sold Nintendo accounted for 50% (276,574), Sony 48% (264,310) and Microsoft 2% (12,346).

Finally, for those viewing TSA on a black and white display thereby making the graphs unintelligible here are the raw numbers:

9th 16th 23rd 30th Total
360 3,859 2,636 2,338 3,513 12,346
PS2 2,547 1,629 1,836 1,938 7,950
PS3 59,612 33,190 23,792 25,149 141,743
Wii 56,547 21,291 14,547 19,448 111,833
DS Lite 4,510 1,956 1,528 1,059 9,053
DSi 38,486 13,416 8,990 9,611 70,503
DSi LL 44,122 17,452 11,720 11,891 85,185
PSP 28,757 9,806 35,636 34,648 108,847
PSPgo 4,084 1,208 198 280 5,770
Total 242,524 102,584 100,585 107,537 553,230

Source: Media Create



  1. Nice to know non-JRPG’s take as long to go to Japan aswell as vice-versa

  2. Oh, lovely Sunday reading with charts and graphs! I’ll pin this so I can read it this afternoon with a coffee :)

  3. Great job as usual Watchful; depressing figures for MS, they’ll starve on that small piece of pie! Those new PSP packs look spunky, good to see Sony squeezing every last drop of sales out of them.

  4. Lol at the Go sales.

    • Just confirms that disc/cartridge > downloads…. although I prefer downloading which needs more games.

      • It proves that high priced consoles with less features will sell less than a low price console that has more features and games.
        I doubt it had much to do with digital download vs disc
        Most people in Japan have PS3s so they could download all of their psp games to their system with ease. Main problem was the cost. Not digital only route. If it were because everything were digital download only, they would not follow the same path with the NGP

  5. I always enjoy reading these Japan monthly figures, thanks Greg.
    I still find it incredible that so far into this generation and Microsoft has barely made any impression in Japan, especially when Nintendo and Sony at the same time are doing especially well there. Nowhere else in the world is the disparity between console manufacturers so huge.
    The 3DS launch will no doubt make a huge impact and i’m certain the PSP will take a battering in the sales figures then. But how much of a battering… and how will it affect sales of standard DS… will it chew into home console sales too… will the 360 carry on steadily regadless…. i guess we’ll have to wait for your report! :)

  6. Monster Hunter Portable 3rd……..

  7. Lol at the psp goes home sales. My psp would be angry if it could see that.

  8. I don’t actually have anything to add, I’m just showing my appreciation for this type of informative post. :) Great stuff.

  9. personally i think one of the major reasons behind the psp go failing so badly in japan right now is in actual fact due to capcom not releasing a digital version of monster hunter portable 3rd, i would imagine loads of japanese people would have gotten a pspgo if monster hunter was going to get a digital release as well

  10. dang MS keeping Sony from having the full 50% of the market.
    in all seriousness though im glad the PSP is doing well over there.

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