While Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Sony’s PlayStation 3 are more or less neck and neck in the UK (the latest figures put the 360 at 3.9 million and the PS3 at 3 million sales) in Japan, the same cannot be said in Japan.
The latest figures from Media Create show that the 360 sold a mere 1,406 units for the week August 1 to 8. The only consoles to sell less were the DS Lite (which has been superseded by the 3DS) which sold 102, and the PSP go, which failed to sell a single unit. Even the last generation PlayStation 2 headed off the 360 by selling 1,529 units. In comparison, at the top of the pops is the PSP with 35,619 units sold, followed by the PS3 with 18,338 and the Wii with 17,004. It was reported by Japanese site Wazap in June that the 360 had finally sold 1.5 million units, which sounded impressive until you compare it to the figures for the Wii (11.5 million) and the PS3 (6.3 million).
Despite having a long head start over the PlayStation 3 in Japan – the Xbox 360 was first past the finish line by miles, launching in December 2005, with the PS3 limping behind with a November 11, 2006 launch, and the Wii bringing up the rear on December 2 – the 360 never really caught on in the country.
Microsoft did its best – first by holding a lavish launch party on the intersection outside the landmark Shibuya intersection, then by bagging exclusive JRPGs for the platform, including Blue Dragon, Lost Odyssey and the Last Remnant. In 2007, Namco Bandai’s The Idolmaster was launched as a 360 exclusive, and temporarily boosted sales of the console. However, later, when it thought no one was looking, Namco Bandai ported the game to the PS3 as well. Whatever Microsoft did to woo the Japanese market, it seemed it just wasn’t good enough.
Edge is now reporting that retailers are “drastically scaling back” their 360 floorspace, including Geo and Yamada Denki, the latter of which has confirmed that it is removing the console and its games from the majority of its stores. Edge speculates that one of the reasons the console has failed is that portable gaming is becoming increasingly popular in the country.
So, is the 360 dead in Japan? Has it become an ex-console? Is it pushing up the daisies? Shuffled off this mortal coil? Gone to join the choir invisible?