To say that gamers looked forward to the launch of the PlayStation 4 would be a huge understatement. The hype that built up in the months prior to the console’s November 2013 release date was nothing short of phenomenal, with over a million pre-orders being placed and Sony revealing that it had sold just as many units during the console’s first weekend at retail in the U.S. alone.
Now, over a year after its release, Sony has announced that it has sold more than 20 million units to customers around the world. It’s not exactly an objective source, sure, but that’s still a lot of plastic boxes sitting under TVs. Of course, a huge chunk of those sales were gobbled up by Europe and North America, but we bet Japan – PlayStation’s homeland – also accounts for a fair slice of the pie chart, right?
Well, apparently not quite as much as you might expect.
According to Japan’s Niconico News, only about one-twentieth of the PS4’s total sales (or about 1.1 million units) have been in Japan. This is despite the fact that the PS4 is apparently the fastest-selling hardware in the PlayStation brand history, having been on the market for less than a year and a half.
While selling one million units of anything is hardly something to be ashamed of, consumers in the UK – a country with a population roughly half that of Japan’s – had snapped up one million PlayStation 4s by September 2014 – after only 42 weeks on the market. It took Japan nearly a year to hit that number. By comparison, the console’s predecessor, PlayStation 3, sold one million units in Japan in only nine months.
So, what’s the deal? Are Japanese folks pissed at Sony for releasing the console pretty much everywhere else in the world before Japan? Probably not, since we know that the Xbox One, which also launched late in Japan, is hardly selling at all in Sony’s homeland. In fact, for the week of February 9, while the PS4 moved just under 21,400 units in Japan, Xbox One sold just 291 units.
Okay, so we know Japanese gamers haven’t defected to Microsoft, so why aren’t they buying PS4s? Are they broke? Have they decided that they’d rather train for marathons instead of play video games? Are they still finishing their backlog of PS3 games?
Well, to be honest, no one is entirely sure, but Niconico News has compiled some thoughts from Twitter users and we can only assume they will explain everything! Let’s take a look.
“People are saying the PS4 sold over 20 million units, but you wouldn’t think it being in Japan. LOL” “The PS4 sold over 20 million units at a really explosive rate, but you wouldn’t guess it from looking at Japan. Even though it was supposed to have been born here!” “Has the PS4 really sold over 20 million units? In Japan, the mobile games and PC browser games are what’s popular right now, but from a global perspective those are probably in the minority. The Japanese game world is becoming more ‘Galapagos’-like too.” [At least in 2013, browser games were actually more popular than console games in the US as well…] “Trying to put a 47-inch LCD TV in my 10-tatami room (about 16 square meters) and having lots of free time? I don’t have that sort of foreign country lifestyle, so a PS4 would be waste for me.”
Of course, a more likely reason might be that the big PS4 games are just now starting to come out in Japan. For example, Niconico News pointed out that "Dragon Quest Heroes" was just released at the end of February, "Yakuza 0" was released last week, and "Final Fantasy Type 0 HD" will be in stores in Japan at the end of the next. Both "Dragon Quest" and "Yakuza" are Sony exclusives, and we doubt many in Japan will be buying an Xbox One to play "Final Fantasy" any time soon, so there’s a lot of speculation that PlayStation 4 sales will pick up in the coming weeks.
We might also add that April is when many university graduates start new jobs, though we’re not sure if that will compel PS4 sales upward or downward. A steady paycheck could encourage them to start spending on luxuries, but there again all that overtime might make them think twice about splurging on something they won’t get to use.
Or, maybe, everyone in Japan is still perfectly happy just playing "Puzzle & Dragons."
Sources: Niconico News, DualShockers
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