Japan’s Console Sales – February 2011

To use a terrible sporting cliché, February was a month of two halves. The event marking that separation was not some whistle blown after an arbitrary number of extra time minutes.  Instead it was the launch of the next evolution of Nintendo’s DS platform, the 3DS.

The three weeks of February prior to the 3DS’ launch saw the to-be-expected slide in sales of the existing DS handhelds as gamers saved their Yen for the final week of the month.  That coupled with Sony’s supply managing to catch up with demand for the PSP gave the sales numbers a Sony bias.


Had February been just a three week month our regular corporate pie chart would have looked radically different to the one at the bottom of this post.  In fact it would have looked like this:

Of course it ended up being mostly red in the end as the 3DS had a highly successful launch, selling out (as well as being hacked to a limited extent) on its first day.  Following that sell-out on Saturday 26th the ever-resourceful Nintendo somehow managed to find another large pile of 3DS’ to sell on the Sunday.

I am sure Nintendo just forgot they had another warehouse full and were not artificially constraining supply to create a first day sell-out, with subsequent regular supplies turning up to keep online resale prices down.  Only a cynic would believe that.  Wouldn’t they?

Regardless of whether any shortages are artificial or not you cannot call the 3DS’ first week sales anything other than a success.  Compare it the original DS, which launched in December 2004 at a price of around ¥15,000.  That had four days of being on sale in its first week and achieved a total of 469k units sold.  The 3DS, on sale for around ¥25,000 has sold 375k units in just two days.

We can give its numbers more context by comparing them to another more recent handheld launch, Sony’s PSPgo.  It was curiosity about how well the PSPgo would sell that led to me following the Japanese console sales numbers.  As a result it is a simple matter to produce a cumulative sales to date chart for the PSPgo and the 3DS from the data I have to hand.

To be honest I did not expect it to be that bad before I started going through the numbers.  I actually thought they might end up fairly close.  As you can see, I was a little out with that guess.

After just two days the 3DS has sold over 200,000 more units in its lifetime on sale than the PSPgo has sold in the sixteen months since its own launch.  That, nearly a year and a half on, the PSPgo’s less-than-stellar first month of sales (57,911) still account for a third of its total (169,281) shows how poorly it has been received in Japan.

More unwelcome news for Sony is that the PSPgo also set new record low sales figures in the first two weeks of the February, just 136 and 107 units respectively.  To be fair though it did bounce back strongly in the second half of the month with weekly sales of 2,487 and 1,076, leaving the DS Lite to prop up the foot of the sales chart for those two weeks.

Enough of that though, it’s time for our regular quick look at the weekly software sales:

Week Ending February 6th

New handheld releases occupied the top four places this week with DS titles in first and fourth sandwiching two PSP titles.  Stylus-powered crime fighting came out the comfortable winner with Ace Attorney Investigations 2 selling 132k copies.

That was followed by the PSP cousins of two PS3 games Macross Triangle Frontier (55.5k) and White Knight Chronicles Portable (41k) in second and third.  Dragon Ball Kai took fourth spot with unit sales of 31k.

There were another four PSP games in the top ten, Kenka Bancho 5 (#5, 87k) Monster Hunter 3 (#6, 28k) Valkyria Chronicles 3 (#8, 18k) and My Little Sister Can’t Possibly Be This Cute Portable (#10, 12k).  The remaining two spots went to the Wii titles The Last Story (#7, 19k) and Donkey Kong Returns (#9, 16k).

Week Ending February 13th

It was a fight between two PSP and PS3 games for the top this week with both titles selling a couple of hundred thousand copies apiece in their race to be number one.  That race was ultimately won by the PSP’s Tales of the World Radiant Mythology 3 with sales of 222k.  I cannot confirm whether it was responsible for the PSPgo’s 2324% jump in sales this week which saw it unusually outsell the 360, PS2 and DS Lite.

The PS3 title in second place was Samurai Warriors 3Z with 208.5k copies sold.  Some distance behind but having a comparatively good week of sales was Monster Hunter 3.  Its jump in sales to 93k probably attributable to the two new MH3 PSP bundles that launched on the 10th.

Ace Attorney Investigations 2 (31k) was in fourth followed by the second of the PS3’s new releases in the top ten LittleBigPlanet 2 (25k).  Clearly demonstrating that Japanese gamers prefer their samurai in HD the Wii’s Samurai Warriors 3 Xtreme Legends (23k) could only manage sixth place.

In seventh, handing zombies a fully-loaded six-shooter to play Russian Roulette with is the third and final PS3 new entry in this week’s top ten, Red Dead Redemption Undead Nightmare (22k).  The 360 version could only shamble it’s way up to twentieth place with sales of 7k.

Populating the final three places in the top ten were Donkey Kong Returns (16k) Kenka Bancho 5 (14k) and White Knight Chronicles Portable (11k).

Week Ending February 2oth

“Mad about the girl” would have been an appropriate subtitle for this week’s sales were I in the habit of giving them subtitles.  Japanese PS3 gamers chose to inflict the nightmare sheepmen of Atlus’ Catherine upon themselves in sufficient numbers to see it easily reach the top of the week’s software chart.

Sales just shy of 142k gave it a significant lead over second place title Marvel vs. Capcom 3, also on the PS3, which recorded 67k sales.  The PS3 locked out the top three with Samurai Warriors 3Z continuing to hold onto a top three place having sold another 58k units.

In fourth and fifth were two PSP titles Monster Hunter 3 (40k) and Tales of the World Radiant Mythology 3 (26.5k) with the fourth and final PS3 title in the top ten, Two Worlds 2 (24k) taking sixth spot.

Filling out the top ten were the Xbox 360 versions of the PS3’s big hitters, Catherine (22k) and Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (14k) and two DS titles Haku Ouki Zuisouroku DS (13.3k) and Ace Attorney Investigations 2 (13.1k).

Note that in the graph above I have artificially anchored the 3DS sales at zero for the week ending 20th February as I needed two points to make a line.

Week Ending February 27th

With this week being 3DS launch week we have already taken a quick look at the software chart but here’s the rundown again in case you missed it.

In first place we have another two hundred thousand-selling PSP title with Phantasy Star Portable 2 Infinity selling 207k units.  Falling just shy of that 200k milestone was SD Gundam G Generation World with 193k sales.  (What a coincidence these last couple of weeks have seen some huge releases for Sony’s consoles.)

Five 3DS titles made the top ten with Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask being the top seller reaching third place with sales of 120k.  In fourth we find the PS3’s Disgaea 4 which could not quite make it a Sony top three in 3DS launch week with its sales of 79k units.

Next up are the other four 3DS titles; Nintendogs + Cats (64k) Samurai Warriors: Chronicles (49k) Super Street Fighter IV 3D (45k) and Ridge Racer 3D (38k).  Ninth was Monster Hunter 3 with Idolmaster 2 on the Xbox 360 taking tenth spot.

The other notable PS3 release this week, Killzone 3, could only manage thirteenth with its sales of 27k.

The Monthly Console and Corporate Fights

In the first of the sales fights we look at each month the PS3 beat the Wii by almost two to one (99,508 vs. 54,380).  Entirely due to the arrival of their new sibling the DSs beat the PSPs (457,030 vs. 252,459) while the PS2 had to look over its shoulder and even further into the distance than last month to see the PSPgo (7,198 vs. 3,806).

Overall shares of the month’s console unit sales saw Nintendo comfortable winners.  Out of the 880,524 consoles sold Nintendo accounted for 58% (511,410), Sony 41% (359,165) and Microsoft 1% (9,949).

Finally, here’s the newly 3DS-enhanced table of numbers for those who do not like graphs:

6th 13th 2oth 27th Total
360 2,282 2,118 2,183 3,366 9,949
PS2 1,897 1,665 1,863 1,773 7,198
PS3 23,846 26,766 25,242 23,654 99,508
Wii 14,972 15,028 12,221 12,159 54,380
DS Lite 1,056 1,003 973 663 3,695
DSi 9,954 10,039 8,022 7,802 35,817
DSi LL 11,555 12,069 10,037 9,093 42,754
374,764 374,764
PSP 30,475 106,893 63,330 47,955 248,653
PSPgo 136 107 2,487 1,076 3,806
Total 97,173 175,688 126,358 482,305 880,524

Source: Media Create



  1. So basically Nintendo coin it in Japan, Sony do above averagely and the 360 is irrelevant

    • Depends when you look.

      • Either way 360 is irrelevant in Japan

      • Xbox 360 sales of around 1.5m to date in Japan make it far from irrelevant. It’s important to Microsoft that they continue to have it available there.

        And for anyone who’s a fan of all the shoot’em ups on XBLA I dare say there’d be far fewer available if it wasn’t on shop shelves in Japan. Were that there case I suspect there still wouldn’t be all that many on PSN.

        So no, the 360 is not irrelevant in Japan.

      • Small as the Microsoft segments are, it’ll be hugely important to them to get a foothold in the market.

        It’s interesting how faithful the Japanese are to their own home-based products.
        I wonder if a brand new British designed and built console was revealed, how well it would perform on its home soil? I suppose it depends if British devs got behind it and supported it. I’d like to think the nation had enough pride to show their support and get on board with the device.

      • The Japanese love anime and the Japanese consoles have loads of anime content.

        Also a British console will fail soo bad, even I wouldn’t buy it >_<

    • Perhaps the 360 isn’t completely irrelevant in Japan, but it is a monumental failure there and no mistake.

      Remember the massive deal the Japanese companies made about the 360 pre-launch and even during it’s first year? Mistwalker, a massively hyped company for one developed exclusively for the 360 for nigh on three years as I recall, and today they have abandoned the console, cancelling the last announced 360 game they had on their slate mid development.

      When one of your biggest supporters turns their back on you like that, it’s a bad situation however you slice it.

      “And for anyone who’s a fan of all the shoot’em ups on XBLA I dare say there’d be far fewer available if it wasn’t on shop shelves in Japan.”

      Doubtful, considering such games sell nothing in Japan when they do come out.

  2. The Japanese sure do love their PSP’s.

    • Not as much as they love their DS’ when a new Pokemon game is released.

    • Why does everyone type this!?

      I guess that I love my PSP… in fact I believe that some of the games now but just a few like Monster Hunter and Phantasy Star are so much more enjoyable than on consoles for its multiplayer, they have so much potential on consoles.

  3. I don’t think the 3DS’ appeal will last very long with all of the negative health affects I’ve been hearing about.

  4. I guess it was expected 3DS would do well but that was an impressive launch. I can see Nintendos share of the pie will be even bigger next month as the 3DS will have a full month of sales to count. We might not see a pie that looks as tasty for Sony as that first one for quite some time .. at least not until NGP launches.

  5. Glad to see the 3DS doing well. Hope the inevitable NGP launch goes well too, but obviously that all depends on the one worrying factor Sony have slipped up on lately: pricing.

  6. Honestly, knowing what Japanese parents are like… I can see the 3ds sells being great but not amazing as many would have you believe. I hope Sony can have a good launch for their next generation portable in the land of the rising sun!

  7. What’s ‘Jason’ doing in the chart up there?

    • If I had a pound for every time…

    • I have just noticed that. Maybe a certain someone has a crush on him or it could be Ethan trying to find JASON through TSA.:P

  8. 3DS is a monster. The figures comparing it to the Go are laughable.

    • As bad as the sales are, I do wonder whether it was part of Sony’s long term plan. I dont expect they thought the Go would make a massive impact, I believe they were probably just testing the waters for a download only console, which they can now see their market isnt ready for yet.

      Everyone who has bought a Go is probably happy with their purchase since they bought it over the regular PSP and paid a higher price for it. Which is saying something. And the PSP itself is still doing very well in Japan, so its not skin off Sony’s back.

      • The Go did badly for a lot of well deserved reasons.

        Compared to the regular PSP figures the 3DS isn’t nearly as impressive looking.

  9. the 3ds is off to a good start. I wonder how it will fair in America and Europe and will Nintendo try to get 3rd party support for it?

    • “try to get 3rd party support for it?”

      Not sure what you mean by that – there’s already plenty of 3rd party support.

      • Not nearly so much from Western developers as Japanese from the looks of it.

      • There’s Activision, Disney, EA, THQ and Ubisoft so far. Not everyone, but not bad, no?

  10. It pleases me to see Ryu’s face as a featured image here >_>

    • I thought that until I realised Chun-li’s my favourite. ^^

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