Japan: PSP Outsells 3DS In April

The continued sales success of the PSP-3000 in Japan is something of a surprise. Not only to us but also it would seem to Sony who have been struggling to manufacture enough of the handhelds to meet demand if retailer blogs and anecdotal evidence are to be believed.

Monster Hunter Portable 3rd, which was released in last December, drove PSP sales to record heights and seems to have lodged it firmly into the consciousness of the Japanese game-buying public.  It almost feels as though a whole other section of the beleaguered country’s gamers have suddenly discovered the PSP.


That the PSP, albeit the third generation of the hardware, is subject to demand that is outstripping supply while it is still in full production over six years after its launch is remarkable.  Even more so when you consider that the PSPgo has fared so poorly that is is no longer in production for the Japanese market and that Sony have announced the PSP’s successor, the NGP.

To this observer at least it is almost as though the PSP is picking up some of the sales that we all expected the Nintendo 3DS to make.  Perhaps it is benefiting from the current absence on that new handheld of Nintendo’s system-selling characters such as Link and Mario?  The simple test of that theory will come shortly after E3, in the middle of June, when the remade The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D releases.

Postive For PSP, Negative For Nintendo 3DS

While the news is all positive for Sony’s PSP-3000, Nintendo’s 3DS continues to underwhelm with its sales.  Personally I believe it is down to two factors.  Firstly the 3DS is certainly the most expensive of Nintendo’s recent successful handhelds and we all know how tight money is at the moment.

Secondly, it is suffering from the perception that there is a lack of games available that make it worth purchasing.  Nintendo seem to be damned if they do and damned if they don’t when it comes to their key franchises.  When they release their Mario, Link, etc., games they get criticized for being too reliant upon them, yet when they don’t release them many people complain that they are missing.

my 3DS is brilliant

For what it’s worth I think my 3DS is brilliant.  Its 3D screen has done more than any TV yet has to convince me that 3D content has a future outside of cinemas.  By combining that 3D ability with its Augmented Reality features it literally and figuratively adds a new, fun dimension to AR.

I am a simple soul yet there is a curious excitement from just carrying the 3DS through a populous area: you can never be sure when you take it out of your pocket or bag whether the StreetPass notification LED will be blinking and there will be a new ghost to ‘Ridge Race’ against or a new volunteer to send questing into the depths of the castle.

As for the games, so what if the big franchises are yet to arrive?  In the meantime I have been having a great deal of fun with PilotWings and Ridge Racer since launch.  This week saw the release of Steel Diver, and next month the aforementioned Ocarina Of Time arrives.  That is plenty and varied enough for me.

Anyway, Nintendo are not paying us for this advertising, so I will stop there and get on with your regularly scheduled Japanese sales round-up:

Week Ending April 10th

Proving that the software chart is no harder to conquer than a horde of giant insects, the PSP’s Earth Defence Forces 2 Portable‘s sales of almost 64k retail units were enough to see it take top spot.  Interestingly, it sold more copies than that though as in additional to the usual one-box-one-game pack it was also available in a “Double Enlistment Pack”.

That pack included two copies of the game for just one and a half times the cost of a standalone copy.  For a game where co-op and competitive multi-player is a big part of the attraction that’s a great way of you and a friend getting the game cheaper at release or alternatively giving you a second copy you can carry around should you find someone to play against you does not have the game.  Seems like a pretty cool idea, wonder if it is one we will see more of?

Other than all that giant ant killing it was a quiet week in the software chart with just one other new entry, Kimi ni Todoke, a comic-based, love-themed adventure game for the DS from Namco Bandai.  Sales of just over 11k saw it take seventh place in the chart.

There were another five PSP titles in the top ten, Ebicore + Amagami (#3, 24k) Final Fantasy IV Complete Collection (#4, 19k) Monster Hunter Portable 3rd (#6, 12k) Dissidia Duodecim Final Fantasy (#9, 9k) and Phantasy Star Portable 2 Infinity (#10, 8.8k).

The other three positions were taken with one game each for the DS, Dragon Quest Monsters Joker 2 Professional (#2, 42k) the PS3, Dynasty Warriors 7 (#5, 17k) and the 3DS, Nintendogs + Cats (#8, 11k).

Week Ending April 17th

A slew of new releases injected some much needed excitement into the software chart this week.  There are few things, typically monsters of varying sizes and moustachioed plumbers, that sell games faster than giant robots in Japan.  Stomping all over the the rest of the chart this week was the latest Super Robot Taisen game on PSP, 2nd Super Robot Wars Z, with 307k sales.

Few countries other than U.S. show any interest in baseball and Japan is one of those.  Pro Baseball Spirits 2011 entered the top ten on three different consoles.  The PS3 version took second place with 86.4k sales, on PSP it made fourth spot (71k) while the 3DS version was down in ninth (12k).

The remaining new entries were Persona 2 Innocent Sin on the PSP (#5, 63k) the 3DS’ PilotWings Resort (#6, 27k) and Homefront, localised for Japan, on PS3 (#7, 22k).  The 360’s version of Homefront made it to 14th with 8k sales.

The three survivors from last week’s top ten were Dragon Quest Monsters Joker 2 Professional (#3, 86.3k) Earth Defence Force 2 Portable (#8, 17k) and Dynasty Warriors 7 (#10, 10k).

Week Ending April 24th

Bizarrely, this week saw a DS-based typing tutor ‘game’ at the top of the software chart.  The two obvious immediate questions are how do you type on a DS and how does a typing tutor get to the top of the Japanese game chart.  The answer to the first is that it came bundled with a Bluetooth keyboard and the answer to the second becomes obvious when you read its name: Battle & Get! Pokemon Typing DS.

The rest of the top five were Dragon Quest Monsters Joker 2 Professional (#2, 45.3k) 2nd Super Robot Wars Z (#3, 44.9k) and Pro Baseball Spirits 2011 on PSP (#4, 28k) and PS3 (#5, 24k).

The lower half of the top ten was the reverse of the upper with four new entries on four different consoles and just the one title left from last week’s.  The new entries were Detective Conan: Aoki Houseki no Rinbukyoku on the DS (#6, 20k) GachiTora! Abarenbou Kyoushi in High School on the PSP (#7, 14k) SOCOM 4: U.S. Navy SEALs on the PS3 (#8, 13k) and Otomedius X for the 360 (#10, 10.5k).  The one survivor was PilotWings Resort (#9, 10.6k).


Week Ending May 1st

Over half the top ten ‘belonged’ to the PSP in a week where it almost outsold all the other consoles combined (77k vs. 86k).  Its six titles were split 50:50 between new entries and earlier releases.  The new entries were Final Promise Story (#2, 60k) Patapon 3 (#4, 49k) and Starry Sky in Winter Portable (#9, 15k) while hanging on from previous weeks were 2nd Super Robot Wars Z (#6, 27k) Pro Baseball Spirits 2011 (#7, 22k) and Monster Hunter Portable 3rd (#10, 11k).

The DS and PS3 each had two titles in the top ten.  For the DS Dragon Quest Monsters Joker 2 Professional regained top spot (74k) while the keyboard-equipped Battle & Get! Pokemon Typing DS dropped to fifth (33k).  While the PS3 has a new release in third with El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron (58k) and its version of Pro Baseball Spirits 2011 was one below the PSP’s in eighth (17k).

The Monthly Console and Corporate Fights

Like banjos, video game console are wont to duel, so here is our regular run-down of how some of those duels resolved themselves.  The PS3 beat the Wii by more than two to one (87,683 vs. 35,702).  Sony’s handheld consoles beat Nintendo’s (186,539 vs. 175,203) while the PS2 outsold the, now discontinued, PSPgo  by more than five to one (5,401 vs. 1,079).

Overall shares of the month’s console unit sales gave Sony by far the largest slice of juicy pie.  Out of the 500,305 consoles sold Sony can take the credit for 56% (279,623), Nintendo 42% (210,905) and Microsoft 2% (9,777).

Finally, for those with a fetish for Roman numerals here is the data in table form:

You are obviously wondering where the other consoles’ numbers are.  The thing is that the original set of Roman numerals was only ever intended to count up to 3,999 and this month only the totals for the DS Lite and PSPgo were below that.  The only conclusion we can draw from this is that the early Romans obviously were not that into video games as they did not need to report large sales figures.  Yes, the Roman Empire later tried to extend their number system, perhaps as a result of an expansion in the video game market, but none of those extended systems really caught on.

There are of course other ancient number systems we could try.  The Babylonians, for example, had a fascinating sexagesimal system of counting.  Were TSA to be translated into Babylonian then the PSPgo’s unit sales total for April would look like this:

The leftmost symbol represents the number of 600s in the number, in this case just the one.  The next the number of 60s (seven) then tens (five) and finally ones (nine).

So that number is ((1 x 600) + (7 x 60) + (5 x 10) + (9 x 1)) = MLXXIX = 1,079.

That all goes some way towards explaining why these days we use the newfangled Hindu-Arabic numerals for our video game sales reporting and other less important stuff:

Source: Media Create



  1. Ahh, finally we have some figures reported in a numerical system I understand =P

  2. wow, psp outselling the 3ds, that is pretty good, seems the hack hasnt effected the final stages of the month for sony sales too :)

    with the psp go sales you may as well tell us the names of the people who bought them XD so little sales

    • And psp is starting to outsel 3DS in Europe.Does not look that good for 3DS right now but Zelda will probably make it go up abit.

  3. How long can Capcom finally announce Monster Hunter F: 3 outside of Japan… I bet thay have a 3DS version for E3

  4. PS3 is doing well despite the PSN hacks. So is the PSP. I am surpised that the 3DS is not doing as well as the DS did during it’s first few months.The 360 is really struggling to sell in Japan.

    • Microsoft consoles are like invading aliens to the Japanese.

    • Some countries are loyal to their companies & brands – Japan, the US and a lot of Europe is

      This seems strange to us in the UK because over the past decade or so everything we own has been bought out by overseas companies & it bloody difficult to buy properly British these days whether its apples, cars, plastic tat & obviously electronics.

  5. Great read, as always very, very informative. Thanks.

  6. Next month, use ONLY the Babylonian system, and see if anybody realises what you’re doing…
    Go on, you know you want to… :P

    • People would assume it was some nonsense about champaign fountains at a meeting of the boomerang appreciation society and be even less likely to read it than normal. :-)

      • Definitely looks better than roman.

  7. 3DS isn’t off to a record breaking start–but it’s important to note that it took DS a little while to get going. Sales didn’t explode in Japan until the release of Nintendogs and Brain Training in mid-2005, and it wasn’t until the Lite, Brain Training and New Super Mario Bros hit in 2006 that the system really took off in the West.

    It’s also not unusual for market leading systems to outsell new generation competitors for a period of time. SNES outsold PS1 during its initial months on the market, PS1 outsold PS2 early on, PS2 outsold 360 in 2006, and even in 2007 (in North America at least) GBA outsold PS3, having outsold DS/PSP during 2005. PSP has been the leading system in Japan for a little while in terms of weekly sales, partially due to DS saturation (over 30 million sold in Japan, twice that of PSP) but also due to the mammoth success of Monster Hunter and a steady stream of smaller titles that cater to the Japanese market.

    3DS needs system selling software, that’s a given. I’m just not convinced Zelda will do the trick in Japan, though it should provide a decent boost in Europe and a big boost in America,it’s declined in popularity in Japan since the N64 days, though since this is a re-release of the first N64 title it could do fairly well. Dead or Alive Dimensions might have a more substantial effect on 3DS software sales, and it’s from then on out Nintendo have signalled their intention to bring out their own first party releases. Giving third parties the spotlight when launching the 3DS clearly hasn’t worked, so the Zelda and Star Fox remakes kick off a roster of much bigger Nintendo titles–the Kid Icarus revival, Super Mario 3D, and of course likely the first ‘evergreen’ sellers for 3DS, Mario Kart and Animal Crossing, all of which should hit within the next 12 months.

    3DS’s apparent rocky start to me is more indicative of the games industry and media that covers it taking a short term approach to how we perceive the market–weekly or monthly analysis rather than yearly analysis, and also a lack of looking at historical trends. For all the changes in gaming, the traditional market that 3DS serves is still cyclical in nature. Precious few systems have been wildly successful from launch–the Wii being the most recent and obvious exception to this–so the fact 3DS is taking a little while to build momentum shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.

    All in all, another very good sales analysis. I’d like to pick up on the Nintendo “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” you’ve mentioned–for me, with 3DS, this applies particularly to third party support. Nintendo, more than ever in recent years, have been criticised for not giving third parties much of a chance on their systems, and now they’ve left the extended “launch window” clear of Nintendo blockbusters, they’re being criticised for over-seeing a poor launch line up. When these big 3DS titles do materialise, I wonder how much criticism Nintendo will get for allegedly breaking promises of allowing third parties to take the limelight?

  8. That’s great news for SONY with all shtuff they have been dealing with. PSP uh? I haven’t played mine in a while tbh.

  9. I haven’t managed to have a go on a 3DS yet (don’t know anyone who owns one), but is the 3D the problem? From what I understand its depth based and you have to hold it in a certain position. Does this preclude you from playing it on any form of transport? Perhaps the novelty of the touch screen has worn off.

    I do have a DSlite but like my Wii its is very rarely touched.

    • I had a go, wasn’t impressed enough to pay the extra, bought a DSi and Pokemon Black for €120 instead. (Versus €260 for 3DS and Street Fighter)
      I’ve plans to get the NGP, but I’ll probably get a 3DS in the future sometime. But not for at least a year or two.

    • Though it gets top billing, I’d suggest that the 3D is just a nice to have. It’s a strong selling point, but in the long run I think the StreetPass, AR and online functionality (once the system update delivers it) will become its defining features.

      Yes the 3D, because of the tech used, does have a limited field of view from which you can appreciate it and a particularly bumpy of crowded journey where you are being jostled may sometimes knock you out of it. But any time the 3D becomes a problem you can just switch it off and continue enjoying the game.

      • NGP will have Street pass,AR(like psp) and obviously online. So no i don’t think they are the selling points.It’s the 3D.

      • I just see the NGP outstripping the 3DS in pretty much every area important to myself.
        But I do want a 3DS as well. I’m just a stingy, cheap bastard when it comes to spending money. :P

  10. Anyone notice the disparity of reporting, not just here but everywhere.

    When Microsoft launched the Xbox360, there was a drought of games, everyone turned a blind eye

    When Nintendo launch a console, and there are no games, everyone turns a bind eye (everyone loves nindy), even after 5 years with only 1st party titles and everything else sucking badly, everyone still turns a blind eye

    When Sony launch a console, it’s foaming rabid dogs attacking Sony for only having a handful of launch titles… (Despite every PS3 launch title being better and more plentiful than the Xbox launch 16 months before).

    This is what pisses me off about the American influenced gaming media. Even the English speaking European gaming media just jump on the same bandwagon as whatever the Americans tell them to jump on. (to lazy or too biased to do anything different, too scared of risking Microsoft’s $$$$$)

    • I totally agree, and I can’t stand it either. I suppose it has much to do with the loyalty of people to their “own” companies & brands, as cc_star mentioned above.

    • Well said man.

    • I don’t jump on any band wagon, I choose the playstation brand in 1994 and have been perfectly happy ever since. I associated American goods as being only slightly less shoddy than UK made goods… Alba… Bush…Amstrad… (Brrr shudders!)and I outgrew the Nintendo brand over ten years ago. That leaves me as a Sony console customer and hand on heart I am perfectly happy. As to the 3DS, well, NGP for me looks far and away the better bet for the reason I gave earlier.

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