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Opinion Business Analysis PlayStation brand ‘is in decisive decline in Japan’, research firm claims

IbizaPocholo

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The PlayStation brand has been called “in decisive decline” in Japan, as PS5 reportedly recorded “by far the lowest” launch sales of any Sony home console in the region.

Citing Famitsu sales data in an article published on GamesIndustry.biz Japan, Ace Economic Research Institute analyst Hideki Yasuda said PS5 sold some 240,000 units in Japan in its first six weeks of availability – less than every other PlayStation console during the same timeframe, barring PSP.

Yasuda claimed that the figures showed that “Sony is not taking Japan seriously” and that the PlayStation brand “is in decisive decline” in the company’s home country.

“Total sales of 240,000 are by far the lowest in the history of PlayStation home consoles,” the analyst wrote. “If this were to continue, lifetime sales of PS5 would perhaps end up at less than half of PS4.”

He added: “Based on this graph, can one really sense that Sony (SIE) has plans for success in the Japanese market? ACE Economic Research Institute cannot see it.”

PS4 has sold fewer than 10 million units in Japan, according to Famitsu.



While Yasuda noted that Japan’s initial PS5 launch allocation was limited because of manufacturing issues, he claims the console’s retail performance is nevertheless troubling.

“Early PS5 trends have shown that the PlayStation brand in Japan is in decisive decline and Ace Economic Research Institute cannot help but be disappointed,” he wrote.

Yasuda concluded: “Looking at the present situation, in which Sony (SIE) has failed to ship enough PS5s to Japan for the year-end shopping season, we cannot help but be deeply concerned for the future of the PlayStation market in Japan”.

The analyst also listed a number of reasons he believes Japanese consumers feel Sony has shown disregard to the Japanese market, including the decision to change Japan’s default controls to adhere to Western standards and no Japanese narration for PS5’s reveal videos.

A recent Bloomberg report—to which Yasuda contributed—claimed Sony’s home territory was being “sidelined” in promotional planning for PS5 and had seen its development teams slashed as the company placed more importance on the US market.

The report also claimed that PlayStation’s Japan Studio, which co-developed games such as Bloodborne, Astro’s Playroom and The Last Guardian, had seen the rolling contracts of many of its creators not renewed and developer support teams reduced by as much as a third from their peak.

Following the report, several high-profile departures were confirmed including Bloodborne and Demon’s Souls producer Teruyuki Toriyama, and Silent Hill and Gravity Rush creator Keiichiro Toyama.

In a later interview published in Edge magazine, Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan said called claims the company was marginalising Japan’s role “inaccurate”.

“The Sony stance is that the Japanese market remains incredibly important to us,” he said. “We have not been as excited about the engagement of the Japanese game development community as we are now for many years.”

Ryan added: “I’d also observe that we’re making a statement by launching in Japan day and date with the US, and that is not what we did with PS4. So I read that stuff. A lot of that commentary is inaccurate, and Japan – as our second largest market and as Sony’s homeland – continues to be really important to us.”

However, Ace Economic Research Institute claims that PlayStation’s actions in Japan do not match its words.

“The intent of my previous article wasn’t to ruffle feathers with a sensationalist title, but to inform Sony headquarters and SIE of Japanese PlayStation users’ profound feelings of despair,” Yasuda wrote, referencing the Bloomberg piece Ryan responded to.

“Sony HQ has told us directly that they value the Japanese market, a comment that we were grateful to hear. I do think it’s highly probable that Sony does take Japan seriously. That said, while their feelings are valuable, their actions do not match those feelings. That’s why users believe Sony and CEO Jim Ryan have shown disregard for the Japanese market.”

Yasuda claimed that SIE’s decision to relocate its headquarters from Japan to the US in 2016 had led to its attitude towards Japanese users “becoming rather cold” and causing it to lose its Japanese principles.

“As mentioned previously, Japanese users aren’t likely to channel their dissatisfaction on social media, so US SIE HQ staff might perceive that as the Japanese just politely accepting whatever is given to them, regardless of how cold they have actually become. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth: they’ve simply begun to vanish into the sunset quietly.”
 
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Elios83

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How can they be in decline if they sold everything they shipped there?
At best they just cannot tell.
Maybe it would have been better to delay the launch altogether as happened with PS4 to show more respect :messenger_tears_of_joy:

“The intent of my previous article wasn’t to ruffle feathers with a sensationalist title, but to inform Sony headquarters and SIE of Japanese PlayStation users’ profound feelings of despair,” Yasuda wrote, referencing the Bloomberg piece Ryan responded to.

No Yasuda, that was precisely your intent and you're doubling down :p
 

Men_in_Boxes

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It makes sense.

PlayStation seems to be shifting away from Japan for a reason. Personally, I'm not bothered as Japan hasn't been vital in a looooong time.
 
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Elios83

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For example, the PS4 will most likely sell less than the PS3 in Japan (9.2 million vs 10 million). It’s not doomsday but I think decline is fair.

They cannot say anything about PS5 in a moment when the system has just launched and it's totally out of stock. What's the purpose of making sales comparison graphs that pretend to be a representation of actual demand for the system?
Not that I believe that PS5 will do wonders there because Japan is simply not into traditional home consoles anymore so basically their target audience has shrinked from 20m+ to 10m at best.
But the article right now is baseless sensationalistic bullshit.
 
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Apr 6, 2015
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Analysts are idiots BUT..
I can see it happening. Japan is Switch-land at this point, and it's pretty obvious that the focus is on the West right now which makes them the most money.

Because Japanese gamers are weirdos.
Lol okay. It's a different culture, with different ways of going about things. A lot of people commute for like an hour a day, which is part of the reason that handhelds and mobile games are so popular. The Switch is killing it in Japan because it's perfect for them. It's a handheld that can do double duty as a home console, it's small, and it has good games that cater to the audience.
It makes sense.

PlayStation seems to be shifting away from Japan for a reason. Personally, I'm not bothered as Japan hasn't been vital in a looooong time.
Do you enjoy any Japanese games? Because you should be bothered if you do and prefer to play on PlayStation. Sony dropping Japan will mean less Japanese developers outside of like Square developing games for the system.
 
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ManaByte

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Sony just shot themselves in the foot.

I don't know how much the rest of you know about Japanese culture (I'm an expert), but honor and shame are huge parts of it. It's not like it is in America where you can become successful by being an asshole. If you screw someone over in Japan, you bring shame to yourself, and the only way to get rid of that shame is repentance.

What this means is the japanese public, after hearing about this, is not going to want to purchase a PS5, nor will they purchase any of Sony's games. This is HUGE. You can laugh all you want, but Sony has alienated an entire market with this move.

Sony, publicly apologize and make Circle the confirmation button on the PS5 in Japan or you can kiss your business goodbye.
 

SlimySnake

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I really dont understand this. The console market in Japan has been dying for a while now. You can look at sales of games like MGS, DMC, FF and RE and see that they no longer post the numbers they used to in Japan.

This has nothing to do with Sony and everything to do with the Japanese audience who have gravitated towards shitty mobile games and handhelds. They just dont care about the AAA experience consoles provide.

If anything, Im glad sony isnt taking Japan seriously. If a girl isnt interested in you, you dont waste your time with her. Go court someone else. Western audience loves consoles and console games, demand has literally never been higher here. Lets focus on the audience that actually cares about consoles.
 

Chukhopops

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They cannot say anything about PS5 in a moment when the system has just launched and it's totally out of stock. What's the purpose of making sales comparison graphs that pretend to be a representation of actual demand for the system?
Not that I believe that PS5 will do wonders there because Japan is simply not into traditional home consoles anymore so basically their target audience has shrinked from 20m+ to 10m at best.
But the article right now is baseless sensationalistic bullshit.
I agree it’s dumb to take any conclusion out of a console that has no stock at the moment in Japan - I think however that there are other signs of Sony losing interest in the JP market and vice versa, one of which being the PS4 sales.
 

bxrz

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Japanese gamers only care about mobile/portability

A PSVita2 would probably be successful as hell over there
 

Geki-D

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This is because Japan just doesn't care about home systems anymore. They only want portable & phones.

It's also sort of worthless because whilst the PS brand may be on the decline in Japan because of how their market is evolving, it's seemingly on the up & up everywhere else so the difference is being made up for. Japan has always been a big market and holds historical importance because Sony and many game devs are originally from there, but let's not pretend that Japan isn't just one country.
 
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Gp1

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Japan answer for less than 10% of PS4 sales to date. And PS4 surpassed the PS3 worldwide by a large margin.

Is almost safe to say that Japan is in decline for the Playstation brand.
 

Orta

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Asian gaming market is irrelevant these days, only the US and Europe matter, no one cares about the Japanese market.

Probably because EU and US gamers are far more easily pleased. Give them the same tedious old Fifa, COD and GTA and they'll line up and buy it every year.

They have truly, truly awful taste in games.
 

The Pleasure

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Probably because EU and US gamers are far more easily pleased. Give them the same tedious old Fifa, COD and GTA and they'll line up and buy it every year.

They have truly, truly awful taste in games.
Because those panty rpgs like super hyperdimension neptunia and graphic novel 5927583 complete with schoolgirls are any better.
 
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DaGwaphics

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Kind of a crazy take that fails to consider the massive move to mobile gaming in Japan. All forms of gaming outside of mobile and Switch are on the downswing, to the point it is no longer a viable market for some projects.
 

diffusionx

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This is the same analyst that predicted the Wii U would be incredibly successful. 😂

Also, he predicted doom for the PS5 in Japan in his analysis documents for multiple quarters because... it's white. You can't make that up. 😂

Find me the person who makes predictions that are all correct.

Also, his proclamation here is based on data and trends and seems reasonable, I am not sure what the problem is.
 

Clarissa

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Sony just shot themselves in the foot.

I don't know how much the rest of you know about Japanese culture (I'm an expert), but honor and shame are huge parts of it. It's not like it is in America where you can become successful by being an asshole. If you screw someone over in Japan, you bring shame to yourself, and the only way to get rid of that shame is repentance.

What this means is the japanese public, after hearing about this, is not going to want to purchase a PS5, nor will they purchase any of Sony's games. This is HUGE. You can laugh all you want, but Sony has alienated an entire market with this move.

Sony, publicly apologize and make Circle the confirmation button on the PS5 in Japan or you can kiss your business goodbye.

They should all commit soduku while at it am I right?
 

yurinka

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Bullshit. People don't buy more PS5 because they are sold out and shipped in very small quantities, not because people lost interest on it.

It's real that Japan always has been a more portable friendly market and that during years the Japanese console market has been moving to mobile, but PS5 didn't sell more in Japan because even if they shipped more consoles for launch worlwide than any other console before in gaming history, they released it in more countries since the start compared to their previous consoles.

So this meant some countries didn't receive as much units as before because they also have to ship to these other countries. In Japan, like in all the other countries, the demand is way bigger than what they can supply, even if they are supplying worlwide in historical records levels. So they don't sell more because are supply constrained, not because of the decline of the whole Japaneses home console market (not PS brand only).
 
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mckmas8808

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This is the same analyst that predicted the Wii U would be incredibly successful. 😂

Also, he predicted doom for the PS5 in Japan in his analysis documents for multiple quarters because... it's white. You can't make that up. 😂

 
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Geki-D

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Because those panty rpgs like super hyperdimension neptunia and graphic novel 5927583 complete with schoolgirls are any better.
Even Japanese gamers aren't interested in that weeb shit. Best-selling games are for the most part the same usual stuff that does numbers in the west. Can't find 2020 numbers but the best selling games in 2019:

  1. Pokemon Sword & Shield – Switch – 2,988,134
  2. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate – Switch – 1,092,397 [3,453,052]
  3. Super Mario Maker 2 – Switch – 800,504
  4. Kingdom Hearts 3 – PS4 – 861,226
  5. New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe – Switch – 747,589
  6. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe – Switch – 628,712 [2,659,009]
  7. Minecraft – Switch – 620,894 – [1,145,939]
  8. Luigi’s Mansion 3 – Switch – 505,998
  9. Super Mario Party – Switch – 498,857
  10. Ring Fit Adventure – Switch – 495,63
Same old same old.
 
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Decline of PS of Japan due to two main reasons.

1. Console gaming trending lower and lower as Japanese gamers seem to enjoy skewing to mobile

2. The big money is in the US and Europe. So that's the focus on games and sales.

If Sony wants, they can make tons of Japanese flavoured games and sell a lot in Japan, but then the big western markets will sell hardly any. Better strategy is to fish where the fish are and make LoU, God of War, Days Gone etc..... sell tons in the west and none in the east,

You could tell years ago this would happen as they moved Sony's gaming HQ to California.

And they even made Ghosts of Tsushima using Sucker Punch. Didn't even want to use one of their Japan studios to make a samurai game.
 
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The Pleasure

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Even Japanese gamers aren't interested in that weeb shit. Best-selling games are for the most part the same usual stuff that does numbers in the west. Can't find 2020 numbers but the best selling games in 2019:

  1. Pokemon Sword & Shield – Switch – 2,988,134
  2. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate – Switch – 1,092,397 [3,453,052]
  3. Super Mario Maker 2 – Switch – 800,504
  4. Kingdom Hearts 3 – PS4 – 861,226
  5. New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe – Switch – 747,589
  6. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe – Switch – 628,712 [2,659,009]
  7. Minecraft – Switch – 620,894 – [1,145,939]
  8. Luigi’s Mansion 3 – Switch – 505,998
  9. Super Mario Party – Switch – 498,857
  10. Ring Fit Adventure – Switch – 495,63
Same old same old.
Sequels to the evergreen games and small devs making graphic novels and moe shit. I'm good. And kingdom hearts had lots o dem kawaii pantsu.
 
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Nikana

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It's Switch land now. To say it's in decline sounds like it's dying but it's not. Its just not nearly as popular as it once was.
 

Evangelion Unit-01

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I don't know that I would call it decisive decline. I don’t know about this analyst either.

It is more a case of a mature market. There was decline after the PS2 but things have been steady since then. Sony hasn't seen any growth in Japan over the past 15 years. The market is not what it was when the PS2 was king. PS3 and PS4 both moved around 10MM units. Not even half as many units as PS2. Moreover PS3 had a fair share of headwinds in terms of price and support. It really is a different era.

Nintendo has seen a ton of success in Japan with the Switch. The hybrid design of the console and game selection have really helped. Mobile is also a huge market in Japan with the rise of gacha games. PC has also taken off in Japan in recent years as well.

Meanwhile Sony has seen a ton of growth in global markets. Particularly in the west where more and more people are investing in the PS ecosystem. Sony has decided to invest accordingly-they have moved their HQ to California, their studios are predominately western and making western games, Japan Studio is moving to more of a publisher role, and they standardized X/O globally. For Sony, Japan is no longer a priority for growth. That doesn't mean it is not important it just is not where growth is for them and I do not blame them for situating for long term growth.

They'll continue to invest in deals like Final Fantasy since those games will help lock in that 10MM user install base in Japan and appeal to Western gamers as well. In addition there are still big HD projects in Japan such as Persona, Nioh, and Tales that will need a console powerful enough to support their vision. This certainly is not the end of Japanese games on PlayStation. That said, Sony is no longer the juggernaut in Japan it was 15 years ago. It is a different market and Sony is doing what is best for Sony by growing their market in the West. This is not a Sony is doomed situation, quite the opposite, a more profitable strategy for the company.
 
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Tutomos

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That's the reality of the situation. For Sony, Fate/Grand Order is more popular than anything Playstation or Nintendo has. Demon Slayer is insanely popular over there and the new mobile game should do very well, which is published by Sony.
 

bxrz

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Probably because EU and US gamers are far more easily pleased. Give them the same tedious old Fifa, COD and GTA and they'll line up and buy it every year.

They have truly, truly awful taste in games.
Hey at least GTA is a good game. cant say the same about the others