Japan is a country synonymous with video games. After all, it was Nintendo that started the resurgence of video games in the 1980s after the collapse of the market. Since then, Sony has also helped push the world of video games forward, with its immensely popular PlayStation consoles. The PS2 sold over 150 million units worldwide, and was only discontinued in December of 2012.
Unfortunately, there has been a definite drop in console sales from the nation that helped rebuild the entire industry. Nintendo’s latest home console, the Wii U, has faced notorious sales problems, with only slight consolidation through a recent growth in units sold. Sony’s recent offering, the PS4, has sold well in the US. However, sales have been slow in its home nation after an initial boom of 300,000 units sold in two days.
In fact, there has been a dramatic drop in sales for video game consoles in Japan across the board. A recent post from Japanese gaming publication Famitsu reveals that the console and software market in Japan has dropped to levels not seen in over 20 years. The sales figures are the lowest since 1990, as shown in this chart courtesy of NeoGaf.
So what has caused the hardware market to drop to its lowest point since the year of the launch of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System? It may well be down to the growth in tablet and smart phone gaming over recent years. The market was at its highest point in 2007, but since then has faced a large decline. With users turning away from traditional gaming in favor of multi-purpose devices, it could signal a bleak future for console gaming.
The switch to handheld devices can also be seen in the 2014 console sales figures. Although handheld consoles have always sold well in Japan, 2014 saw the 3DS sell over triple the amount of it’s closest home console rival, with over 3 million units sold. In fact, the PS Vita also beat out any home consoles to the second spot with 1.1 million. The PS4 sold 925,000 units, beating the Wii U, which sold just over 600,000.
There could be a silver lining, though. Sony has announced that the PS4 has sold an impressive 18.5 million units worldwide since its launch in November 2014, meaning the console can be considered anything other than a failure. A number of high-profile Japanese titles are also yet to release for the console, with the likes of Bloodborne and Final Fantasy XV and to release this year. In fact, Final Fantasy XV’s co-director Hajime Tabata has even suggested that the Japanese console market’s future could hinge on the success of Square Enix’ title.
What do you make of the news? Do you think this signals a definitive turn from console gaming, or can traditional video games recover against the smart phone and tablet market? Let us know in the comments.