The news did not come to surprise anyone. It was simply the reflection of an open secret, something that was obvious and that the numbers have revealed.
The PlayStation brand has registered its worst sales figure in Japan in the last 26 years. Since the launch of its first console, the PSOne, Sony had not signed a few data so poor in its national territory.
Along with the fact that everyone PS4 models have been discontinued (save for one), joins the exceptional circumstance of the global pandemic. This has resulted in a worrying lack of stock, especially in the new generation console such as PS5.
However, the root of the Japanese public’s detachment from one of its benchmarks runs much deeper. The motives and reasons are not a certainty, but we will throw him a look at the possible causes of this gradual decline.
Little interest in the Japanese market
One of the most used arguments. The feeling that runs through this debate is that Sony has forgotten its interests in Japan and has “westernized”, focusing on a juicier foreign market.
If we take a look at the titles most relevant PS3 exclusives in 2011, we find games like Uncharted 3, Infamous 2, Killzone 3 O Resistance 3. On the other hand, they also planned its launch Hyperdimension Neptunia, Ar tonelico Qoga: Knell of Ar Ciel and The Last Guardian
The intentions approach seems obvious. The classic JRPG, a genre that has always worked in Japan, is relegated to works of a lesser draft, while all the meat on the spit is focused on the more global games. Nathan Drake became the most recognizable face for PlayStation during those years.
Further, Final Fantasy XIII it had been on the market for two years. True, it was not the delivery with the best reception, although it set a truly momentous precedent: it was the first time that one of the main deliveries (except for the XI) it was not exclusive to Sony since the revolution of VII.
The top 10 best-selling games that year in Japan, was the following (Source: Siliconera):
Until four games from their systems put PlayStation in the top the best seller. Nintendo was his big rival, as always, but he still kept the type.
1,467,261 PS3 were sold in Japan that year and 1,960,177 PSP, the company’s old laptop. The new console that year was PSVita, which had a friendly premiere with 402,794 units sold, as reflected Famitsu.
Moving four years into the future, we find that the PS4 has been on the market for two years and the picture seems to repeat itself. Bloodborne, The Order 1886 O Until Dawn they were part of the starting grid.
In just two generations, Sony had squandered what it had built on PSOne and what it had beefed up on PS2. In the image of the graph you can see how sales from 2011 are on a downward trend. Sony increasingly sold fewer consoles in Japan.
Finally, we move to 2019, the last year with a total game sales record. The top 10 best-selling games in Japan are completed by the following works (Source: Mcvuk):
Out of the four PlayStation games in 2011, we’ve moved on to one and it’s not even exclusive, as is the case with Kingdom Hearts III. Nintendo’s dominance is just overwhelming.
PS4 sold 773,773 units, PS4 Pro 422,380 consoles and PSVita 37,668 in 2019. Last year in which the symbolic barrier of one million consoles sold was saved.
The conclusion is obvious. Japan has not changed in its tastes, it is Sony that has modified its preferences. The Japanese player still wants to play RPGs, to experiences directed at them. It is his fetish work, since the country gave birth to this type of games. From the NES to the PS4, the Japanese community has been nurtured by a culture dedicated to genre.
Much less does the platform m atter. Nintendo, Sony or Microsoft, what is valued is the game, the quality of what is presented
The portable market
If there’s anything other than JRPGs that works in Japan, it’s portable consoles. Game Boy, Nintendo DS or the PSP have been prodigal daughters in their own land, reaping great results during their life stages.
Game Boy, with its different formats, exceeded 50 million units, only in Japan. Nintendo DS 33 million and PSP 20 million, according to VGChartz. The rest of the regions surpass Japan, yes, but they are made up of larger populations. Here we speak of a single nation.
The transit through the cities in endless trips by subway, the inheritance of the devices like the Tamagotchi or the pure need to be able to play in any corner, in Japan it is very easy to see someone playing a game with their Nintendo Switch or PS Vita.
The latter has suffered a sharp decline all over the planet, except in Japan. It is there where it reaches its highest sales figures with 5,920,000 units. Why? Simple, the passage of the years has transformed the catalog into an infinite source of visual novel, JRPG and all kinds of experiences aimed at the Japanese public.
The decision of discontinue PSVita it did not sit well with the Japanese community. So much so that in eBay Japan continues to be the most requested hardware, with the PSP being the second on the list.
The historical PSVita top 10 in Japan is as follows, provided by VGChartz. Of course, there are no surprises:
The pattern, once again, is clear. The rest of positions is imaginable; multitude of games that not even remotely have the opportunity to get close to our territories, but that in Japan they live a perpetual golden age.
With its sights set on home consoles, Sony has abandoned that market to a niche like the PSVita. And it was at that moment when his biggest rival woke up and struck the table hard.
Nintendo introduced the Nintendo Switch on March 3, 2017 and caused an earthquake in the industry. This time the Big N seemed to have hit the right key, presenting a tremendously versatile console, which combined portability with its own catalog from Nintendo.
It is impossible to say no to playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild oa Super Mario Odyssey on the street, sitting on a bench or lying in bed. The sales graph of PS4 vs Switch from its launch to 2019 speaks clearly.
Almost four years later, 13,484,739 units of Nintendo Switch have been sold, details Gematsu. 9,255,620 PS4 + PS4 Pro come as Nintendo has passed them on the right these years in Japan. There hasn’t been a month since the release of the Switch that Sony has gone ahead.
The sentence has been signed by 2020 with less one million units combined between three consoles and Nintendo Switch achieving more sales than in 2019.
We don’t know what they think exactly Shuhei Yoshida, President of SIE Worldwide Studios, on the future of PlayStation in the country where it was born. Figures probably support Sony’s position about opening the market further and consequently relegating Japan.
PlayStation should review the roots of its past, the events that catapulted it as one of the great companies video game history in recent decades.
Western audiences marveled at games like Final Fantasy VII O Metal Gear Solid, led by Japanese companies. What was liked in Japan, attracted millions of players around the planet. There are no bad genres, only leaders with little vision of the future.