While American gamers are entrenched deep into Halo: Reach, their Japanese counterparts aren’t buying into the Halo hype as much.
According to media tracking company Media Create, the latest entry in the Halo franchise sold only 44,413 copies in its first week of Japanese release. While that number did put it ahead of the last Halo game in Japan (Halo 3: ODST sold 29,734 copies during its first week), it still wasn’t as successful as Halo 3’s Japanese launch (61,143 copies). Even an appearance from Master Chief wasn't enough to boost sales more.
These numbers are substantially lower than the sales numbers in other countries for the Halo prequel, where the game is selling like hot cakes. Not only did Halo: Reach hit the $200 million mark in day one sales, more than any “game, movie or entertainment experience in 2010” according to Microsoft’s Phil Spencer, but it broke the all-time concurrent unique users on Xbox Live record, which was previously held by Halo 3.
These numbers tell a story that many gamers already know. While the Xbox 360 may be a success in the U.S., in Japan Microsoft still has work to do. In the same batch of media sales numbers you can see that the Xbox 360 sold only 5,804 units, good enough for third place, behind the PlayStation 3 (21,096) and the Wii (14,833). Even more problematic for Microsoft is that the 5,804 number reflects a substantial jump from previous weeks.
There is a way to spin these numbers, though. Bungie released Halo: Reach at quite possibly the worst time in Japan, during the same week as PokÃ©mon Black and White; PokÃ©mon easily topped the sales charts, and broke the records, with 2,557,779 units sold. So if you take PokÃ©mon out of the equation, Halo was only about 6,600 units from the top spot. You can see the full sales lists below.
Software sales in Japan
- PokÃ©mon Black/PokÃ©mon White (DS) - 2,557,779
- Front Mission Evolved (PS3) - 51,084
- Yu-Gi-Oh 5Ds Tag Force 5 (PSP) - 45,879
- Halo: Reach (360) - 44,413
- Wii Party (Wii) - 36,547
- Monster Hunter Diary: Poka Poka Airu Village (PSP) - 28,627
- One Piece: Gigant Battle (DS) - 28,123
- Blue Roses (PSP) - 9,846
- Taiko Drum Master DS (DS) - 8,729
- Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii) - 8,178
Hardware Sales in Japan
- PS3: 21,096
- Wii: 14,833
- 360: 5,804
- PS2: 1,390
This has been a problem for Microsoft since the release of the original Xbox in Japan; they just can’t seem to break through in motherland of video games. At this point, Microsoft’s question should turn from “How do we make the Xbox brand successful in Japan?” to “Do we need the Xbox brand to be successful in Japan?” Microsoft has had the top selling HD console in America for the majority of the Xbox 360’s life cycle, and it’s been going back and forth with the PS3 in Europe.
Obviously, Microsoft would like to dominate every market worldwide, but they’re doing well even without the Japanese market, so do they really need it? They spent a lot of money and resources promoting Halo: Reach in Japan and trying to sell it at the Tokyo Game Show. The Japanese market is notoriously hard for foreign companies to excel in, maybe it’s time for Microsoft to cut its losses and just accept where they are in Japan.
What do you guys think? What can Microsoft do to try and increase sales in Japan or is it even possible for them to do it? If a game like Halo: Reach can’t do it, maybe nothing can.
Halo: Reach is available now for the Xbox 360.