Japan: PSP Untouchable During May

Apologies for posting something which is not about E3. We know that is all you want to read about but for at least a few more hours not every gamer’s eyes are fixated upon the City of Angels.  It is time once more for our regular look back at what sold in Japan during the previous month.

What did not sell (much) is obvious.  With both Sony’s PSPgo and Nintendo’s DS Lite having been discontinued and only the limited existing stock which remains still available to buy the two consoles’ sales have effectively flat-lined.  It will probably not be long before Media Create stop reporting their figures.


We are all well aware that Japan has, to say the least, had a rough time of it lately.  I thought it might be interesting to take a look at how the already weak video games market was fairing compared to last year.

Japanese flags.

After the Great East Japan Earthquake many in Japan reacted by refraining from spending any money on discretionary items and luxuries, a category that encompasses video games hardware and software.  On top of everything else the country was going through, one of the last things its economy needed was for its citizens to stop spending.

As a result the government had to step in and ask that while they recognised and respected the show of sympathy with those who had lost so much in the North East of the country, please could people not stop spending as the country needed the finances to begin the recovery.  If the population listened, May could be the month to give us our first clue.

The first week in May is a holiday week in Japan known as Golden Week.  That gives us a good marker from which to compare this year’s hardware sales with last as it is not simply an arbitrary date.  This next table is the hardware sales for last year, for Golden Week (9th) and the following three weeks.  The numbers are those I reported at the time, it is just a more presentable table and I have taken out the DS Lite and PSPgo for obvious reasons.

Now in a change from your normal service I am including this year’s numbers for May here, rather than at the bottom of the page, so that the two tables are together.  Golden Week this year was the week ending the 8th May.

Sorry, but I am now about to bore you with a third table before we get to the nice colourful graphs.  This table shows you the percentage change in hardware unit sales between the two four week periods.

Let’s take a moment to look at how those percentage changes are calculated.  Let’s use the 360’s Golden Week sales as an example as we get a nice round figure at the end.  We start with a very simple calculation you should all remember from school to express the 2011 sales as a percentage of those of 2010:  (100/4,278) * 3,419 = 79.92%

Now we know that 2011’s 360 unit sales during Golden Week were only 79.92% of those of Golden Week in 2010.  Then we simply subtract that 79.92 from 100 to give us 20.08, so the change is 20.08%.  The final step is to ensure that the correct sign is applied to that number so the result is multiplied by -1, before finally being rounded to remove the decimal places and make the table easier to read.

A quick sanity check is to multiply the 2011 figure back up by the difference to check we get a result close to the 2010 figure.  This is where the 20% difference makes it easy as 80% is 4/5 of 100% so the May 2010 figure should be 5/4 of the May 2011 one: (3,419/4) * 5 = 4273.75 (which is a handful of 360’s out due to the earlier rounding)

With that quick maths lecture out the way let’s have a look at the graph and see what it tells us:

Of course you could predict that graph from looking at the prior table but it does make it that much easier to see that aside from the incredible performance the PSP-3000 has been putting in since the launch of Monster Hunter late last year it is not a picture of a healthy growing market.

Nintendo has the worst of it with both the Wii and DSi LL (XL) both down around 64%.  The ‘normal’ DSi is not doing a great deal better, being down 47% itself.  It’s only the 3DS that, despite its slow start, is roughly ensuring that Nintendo’s total handheld sales are remaining relatively stable.

That the Wii’s sales are so low is Nintendo’s bigger problem.  We may be about to find out about the Wii’s successor but it will not be with us until sometime next year which means Nintendo’s coffers will be missing a significant chuck of income until then.

The PS3, being down an average of 27% is doing better than the 360 (down 36.5% on average).  Amazingly the venerable PS2’s sales are broadly flat compared to last year which is a remarkable feat for the oldest console in the list.

The hardware market then is not in the best of shape, but perhaps slightly better than you might imagine having looked at the above graph.  Adding back in the consoles that were missing from the above comparison (3DS, PSPgo and DS Lite) the overall hardware unit sales are down 9% this year (405,509 vs. 445,251).

I’m afraid that owing to an eyeball-related incident the software charts are in simple list form this month.

Week Ending May 8th

  1. Dragon Quest Monsters Joker 2 Professional (DS), 43,886
  2. Patapon 3 (PSP), 21,546
  3. Pro Baseball Spirits 2011 (PSP), 20,090
  4. Final Promise Story (PSP), 18,185
  5. 2nd Super Robot Wars Z Hakai Volume (PSP), 13,670
  6. Pro Baseball Spirits 2011 (PS3), 12,754
  7. Wii Party (Wii), 12,433
  8. Pokemon Black & White (DS), 9,868
  9. nintendogs + cats (3DS), 9,643
  10. Mario Kart Wii (Wii), 9,298

Week Ending May 15th

  1. Dragon Quest Monsters Joker 2 Professional (DS), 20,722
  2. Haruhi Suzumiya no Tsuisou (PS3), 18,831 New Entry
  3. Steel Diver (3DS), 17,408 New Entry
  4. Haruhi Suzumiya no Tsuisou (PSP), 14,953 New Entry
  5. Patapon 3 (PSP), 12,959
  6. Pro Baseball Spirits 2011 (PSP), 10,166
  7. Planetarian — Chiisa na Hoshi no Yume Tohoku Earthquake Charity Version (PSP), 9,222 New Entry
  8. Final Promise Story (PSP), 6,915
  9. Pro Baseball Spirits 2011 (PS3), 6,586
  10. 2nd Super Robot Wars Z Hakai Volume (PSP), 6,290

Week Ending May 22nd

  1. Akiba’s Trip (PSP), 58,150 New Entry
  2. Dead or Alive Dimensions (3DS), 23,078 New Entry
  3. Dragon Quest Monsters Joker 2 Professional (DS), 19,290
  4. Gungnir (PSP), 16,355 New Entry
  5. Patapon 3 (PSP), 11,458
  6. Portal 2 (PS3), 8,942 New Entry
  7. Pro Baseball Spirits 2011 (PSP), 8,032
  8. Wii Party (Wii), 5,043
  9. Pokemon Black & White (DS), 4,767
  10. Steel Diver (3DS), 4,583

Week Ending May 29th

  1. One Piece Unlimited Cruise Special (3DS), 80,488 New Entry
  2. Troy Musou (PS3), 31,428 New Entry
  3. Pandora’s Tower (Wii), 21,445 New Entry
  4. Akiba’s Trip (PSP), 16,582
  5. Nobunaga no Yabou Tendou with Power Up Kit (PS3), 15,456 New Entry
  6. Treasure Report: Kikai Jikake no Isan (DS), 14,304 New Entry
  7. Dragon Quest Monsters Joker 2 Professional (DS), 13,974
  8. Patapon 3 (PSP), 9,134
  9. Iza Shutsujin! Koi Ikusa (PSP), 9,008 New Entry
  10. Pro Baseball Spirits 2011 (PSP), 8,394

The Monthly Console and Corporate Fights

The American divisions of Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo will shortly be waging combat in L.A. by seeing who can make the most noise in the media.  The Japanese sales fronts in the ongoing war played out like this in May: the PS3 beat the Wii by more than two to one (63,594 vs. 31,563) and Sony’s handheld consoles beat Nintendo’s (154,179 vs. 140,084).

Overall shares of the month’s console unit sales gave Sony by far the largest slice of juicy pie.  Out of the 405,509 consoles sold Sony can take the credit for 55% (223,191), Nintendo 42.3% (171,647) and Microsoft 2.6% (10,671).

Source: Media Create



  1. I wonder why the Xbox is not popular in Japan… it’s basically the same thing as the PS3.

    • Cos its not Japanese, duh lol. PS3 is Japanese so obviously the Japanese will support the PS3 more.

      • I guess they’d have to import it too, which would add to the price. I’m not sure about the support Microsoft would give in Japanese too.

    • not a fanboyish comment but just my oppinion,
      I wonder how xbox is popular anywhere when all they have this year is gears of wars 3 (hello infamous 2)
      respect to each and every console owner totally respect you all of you, although i don’t understand you.

      • Lower price, and a great back catalogue, I’d assume.
        Not to mention the Sony hack is only going to drive more people off the fence and into Microsoft’s camp.
        That said, I will never be in that camp. I love my DualShock too much, and I’ll never like the (in my opinion) monstrosity used to control the 360.

    • Essentially Japan is the home territory for Sony, as much as it is for Nintendo. There’s a big raft of Japanese companies that make games primarily for their consoles and that region. Monster Hunter, for example, gets most of its sales in Japan, and exclusives spur on hardware sales…

      Just as the West often views games coming out of Japan as odd and eccentric, even the massive hit games like MGS or Gran Turismo, they also don’t “get” many of the Western games. There’s also other factors, such as the original XBox having a big gamepad (even the S was pretty giant) for the average Japanese hand, which has persisted somewhat with the 360.

      Finally, it’s also all about friends. If your friends are all getting a PS3, then you’d be a fool to get a 360, since then you wouldn’t be able to play with them online.

      A lot of factors mean that whilst MS is doing a great job in the US, /its/ home ground, they’re nowhere near as dominant in the EU, and barely get a look in with Japan.

  2. PSPGo 570 units? Wowsers!! The figures for the PSP however are cracking. Thought they might have really slowed down due to the fact the PSVITA or whatever is on it’s way later this year, fingers crossed.

    • That’s because they don’t make the PSPgo any more. It does say “discontinued” at least once up there ^ :)

  3. Go Sony!

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