Physical Game Sales Hit 24-Year Low in Japan

But lack of digital sales data masks the full picture.Japan’s frenzy for video games appears to have mellowed, if new statistics for software and hardware sales are to be believed.

New retail information, distributed by local publication Famitsu, shows that the combined spend on game discs and hardware has reached a 24-year low. Not since 1987 has so little been spent in games retail stores across the country.

However, because the data does not include digital sales, it’s debatable how useful and representative the information is. Retail monitor NPD has previously claimed that digital sales have began to outstrip physicalsales. Analyst group EEDAR, meanwhile, believes that half of all games will be purchased digitally by 2018.

Next gen consoles, such as the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, have under-performed in the region


The lack of information on Japan’s digital sales means that few conclusions can be drawn from the current data. If digital represented half of all software revenue in Japan, for example, then 2014 would in fact be recorded as the third biggest sales year ever. If digital represents less than ten percent of game software revenue, however, then 2014 would be recorded as the worst year since records began.

However, despite the unanswered questions regarding Japan’s software sales, hardware data suggest the nation’s interest in new consoles has declined somewhat.

About $1.2 billion was spent on game hardware across retail in Japan last year. According to data compiled by one NeoGAF user, this represents the lowest spend since 2004. PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are both underperforming in the region, as is the Wii U to a lesser extent.

Total hardware sales for the year follows (including lifetime sales):

  • PlayStation 4: 926,000 (926,000)
  • Xbox One: 46,000 (46,000)
  • Wii U: 605,000 (2,123,283)
  • 3DS: 3,153,000 (17,847,000)
  • PS Vita: 1,148,000 (3,423,000)
  • PS3: 450,000 (10,019,000)


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