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PlayStation is in 'Decisive Decline' in Japan Following Lackluster PS5 Launch, According to Analyst

PlayStation is in 'Decisive Decline' in Japan Following Lackluster PS5 Launch, According to Analyst - News

by William D'Angelo , posted on 02 August 2021 / 6,904 Views

The PlayStation brand has seen a decline in popularity in Japan over the years with the PlayStation 4 not matching the sales of the PlayStation 3 in the country. The PlayStation 5 launched in Japan on day one, however, it has only sold about 242,000 units as of December 20. This is the worst ever for the launch of a PlayStation system, other than the PSP. 

ACE Economic Research Institute analyst Hideki Yasuda speaking with GamesIndustry says that the PlayStation brand is in "decisive decline" in Japan and that Sony is not putting enough effort into selling the PlayStation in Japan. 

PlayStation is in 'Decisive Decline' in Japan Following Lackluster PS5 Launch, According to Analyst

"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," Yasuda said.

"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."


A life-long and avid gamer, William D'Angelo was first introduced to VGChartz in 2007. After years of supporting the site, he was brought on in 2010 as a junior analyst, working his way up to lead analyst in 2012. He has expanded his involvement in the gaming community by producing content on his own YouTube channel and Twitch channel dedicated to gaming Let's Plays and tutorials. You can contact the author at wdangelo@vgchartz.com or on Twitter @TrunksWD.


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58 Comments
Jranation (on 06 January 2021)

The problem with the Brand is they never tried anything new with the PS4. Why didnt they release games like Splatoon, Ringfit or Yokai Watch that suits the Japanese culture. They just sticked to the big franchises like FF, DQ and MH. But the fanbase of those games is not enough to attract a bigget market which clearly showed how the PS4 couldnt beat the PS3. Games sells hardware.

  • +7
JRPGfan Jranation (on 09 January 2021)

I actually like Yokai Watch so I dont mind that.... but Splatoon? Ringfit? hahhahahahahaha. Yeah no..... This is just Nintendo being a much more popular brand in japan, and them loveing tablets/phones (portability).

  • -2
Jranation JRPGfan (on 09 January 2021)

If you are Sony that is not the right mindset you want to have. Did anyone expected any of the games I listed to sell millions as brand new IPs in Japan? They need to try something different with the PS5. If you want the Japanese people to support your console then you need to give them the reasons why they should.

  • +4
Mnementh JRPGfan (on 11 January 2021)

So, you want Sony to fail? Because for winning they need to tap into new demographics, and that happens with games that probably don't appeal to much to the current demographic (aka you).

  • 0
Red_Beard (on 06 January 2021)

I'm sure the prejudice they've been showing Japanese developers hasn't helped Japan's views on the brand, either.

  • +7
DonFerrari Red_Beard (on 06 January 2021)

By prejudice are you talking about?

  • 0
Mnementh Red_Beard (on 06 January 2021)

@Don: Stuff like gaining approval for release even for a japan-only game only with a proposal in english. That certainly doesn't help.

  • +6
DonFerrari Mnementh (on 06 January 2021)

Didn't know about this requirement and it is unnecessary imho, but makes small sense since it possibly need to be approved in USA. But that isn't prejudice. If every dev needs to make a proposal in English no matter the country of origin then that isn't anything specific against Japanese devs (nor it is really a big hurdle at all).

  • 0
TheBraveGallade DonFerrari (on 06 January 2021)

not really, not when japanese specific is an entire market thats mostly seperate from the rest of the world.

  • +4
SvenTheTurkey (on 07 January 2021)

Sony should probably do something about this. I think japanese devs would happily make games targeting switch with the ps5 getting a lazy up res rather than being the lead or exclusive platform. Monster hunter rise is going to be a telling game for how platforms are chosen. They need to be the lead platform for some of these games or the switch is going to suppress the ps5 sales in Japan.

  • +4
Conina (on 07 January 2021)

" it has only sold about 242,000 units as of December 20." = "it has 'only' sold 100% of available units"

  • +3
dark_gh0st_b0y (on 07 January 2021)

Imagine if they didn't have the main Final Fantasy, Monster Hunter, Kingdom Ηearts entries... of course availability plays a role but there's no denying Sony is in decline in Japan.

I don't think it matters much anyway, Sony is an estiblished king in Europe and more than healthy in the US, the GTA, Fortnite, CoD, FIFA online teens cult is here to stay.

  • +3
SvenTheTurkey dark_gh0st_b0y (on 07 January 2021)

I think they would still get ports of those games on ps5. But I could see focus moving to the switch for Japanese devs.

  • +3
KratosLives (on 07 January 2021)

the ps5 sold out in japan, this article is crazy..

  • +3
chakkra (on 06 January 2021)

I think it is WAY too early to jump to conclusions about the PS5 in Japan. We need to wait for the device to be available before we can gauge consumers' interest.

  • +3
Jranation chakkra (on 06 January 2021)

The company clearly doesnt care about the consumers in Japan. Look how little they shipped PS4 in Japan in majority of 2020.

  • +1
chakkra Jranation (on 06 January 2021)

I know, but still, it is too early to jump to conclusions based on these last few weeks of sales when there are no units to sell in the first place.

  • +1
RolStoppable chakkra (on 07 January 2021)

It's not too early. When the Vita and PS4 suffered from shortages in Japan and sold ~10k per week, there were people who hoped for a lasting positive impact on the baseline sales, but both consoles had only a couple of good weeks once supply had caught up. The overall software lineup lacked appeal and it's not going to be any different for the PS5 for which we know that not much will be coming.

What makes it worse for the PS5 is that Sony is wasting the holiday season which will continue into mid-January. Ideally, Sony should have aimed to sell 500k LTD by the end of the holiday season, but they will fall far short of it. This could result in delays of third party software because of a too low installed base; third parties aren't fond of the responsibility to drive hardware sales themselves.

Lastly, the analyst talks about the PS brand and with no device in the handheld market anymore, there's already a built-in sharp decline that the PS brand has no answer for. The PS5 being off to such an underwhelming start makes things only worse. After its shortlived bump in sales when more stock becomes available, it will spend a lot of weeks below 10k. The PS4 needed 10.5 months to sell its first million in Japan, but the PS5 might not even do it in 14 which would include two holiday seasons already.

  • +4
chakkra RolStoppable (on 07 January 2021)

Oh, please... as if Devs were just going to stand there waiting for the first two months of sales to decide if they were going to develop a game for the PS5 or not. And if by any chance there are some developers out there waiting to make up their mind, I'm sure they can wait two more months when the machine is finally available to have a more clear picture.

  • +2
RolStoppable chakkra (on 08 January 2021)

That's not what I was talking about. I only mentioned timing of releases of games that have already been in development, not anything about decisions whether to make a PS5 game or not.

  • +1
Qwark (on 07 January 2021)

Why would Sony care, better to focus on new markets and the West than to appeal a niche market which doesn't really like home console gaming to begin with. Even if the PS5 ends up selling 5 million in Japan, if it increases sales worldwide by 7.5 million instead its still a win.

  • +2
KLAMarine (on 07 January 2021)

I think PS5 is too big in size for Japan... I think portability is a huge plus when it comes to tech: PS5 is not terribly portable.

  • +2
KratosLives KLAMarine (on 07 January 2021)

are you suggesting japanese game on tiny tv screens?

  • -3
KLAMarine KratosLives (on 07 January 2021)

Many do, yes: many game on Switch don't they? Many more game on their phones.

Thankfully, those tiny screens don't seem so tiny closer up.

  • +1
KratosLives KLAMarine (on 07 January 2021)

Cheap thrill , what a world we live in.

  • 0
Otter (on 06 January 2021)

Why did the PSP start so badly?

  • +2
shikamaru317 Otter (on 06 January 2021)

Launch line-up was kind of weak for one, only 6 games, with another 5 coming several days later, and none of those 11 were particularly huge sellers, I think the biggest of them only sold around 300k lifetime in Japan. It also released a week after DS, which was much more successful, and it was about 5,000 yen more expensive than DS on launch for the base model, about 10,000 yen more expensive for the premium model.

  • 0
RolStoppable Otter (on 07 January 2021)

It didn't. First five weeks: 163k, 83k, 98k, 122k, 58k. That adds up to more than twice of what the PS5 did in the same timeframe. The article is very wrong about the PSP's start.

  • 0
ClassicGamingWizzz (on 07 January 2021)

Love these experts in japan, too much hours watching anime and they think they know everything about there.

  • +1
Tridrakious (on 11 January 2021)

I definitely think this is blown out of context. Yes they provided more inventory to the North American and European markets. Because they are massive in comparison.

Japan's inventory will improve, it's just a matter of time. And with the PS5 being backwards compatible with PS4 titles, it's safer for devs to support both platforms with content.

  • 0
LivncA_Dis3 (on 06 January 2021)

Wait till stocks are up and running before making an analysis, don't count ur chicken before they hatch as my stepdad always say.

  • 0
imparanoic (on 06 January 2021)

portable consoles always sell better in Japan than home consoles, there is a tendency of portable console from nintendo sold more than the same generation home console, but it not the same with Sony, Ps3 outsold psp and ps 4 outsold ps vita

  • 0
Mnementh imparanoic (on 11 January 2021)

"portable consoles always sell better in Japan than home consoles" vs. "Ps3 outsold psp and ps 4 outsold ps vita" ← What is it now?

Let's take a look:
PS3: 10.47M
PSP: 20.01M
PS4: 9.29M
Vita: 5.92M

So clearly PSP outsold PS3 (double), while the same is not true for Vita vs. PS4. After all it isn't so much about handheld vs. home console, but successful console vs. unsuccessful one. Sony just has to make a product that matches the japanese tastes, and they would sell a lot. But they willfully focus on different markets, that is why they are consistently declining.

  • 0
imparanoic (on 06 January 2021)

playstation 4 sold 9.2 mil after 7 and half years since release date in Japan, playstation 4 sold 10.4 mil after 11 years since release date in Japan, a bit early to speculate that Ps4 is not as popular as PS3 in Japan? source wiki.

  • 0
Mr Puggsly (on 06 January 2021)

At best its probably stagnant. PS3 and PS4 both sold about 10 million. We are at a point where Japan isn't that important for Playstation anyhow.

  • 0
Kakadu18 Mr Puggsly (on 06 January 2021)

PS3 sold 10.5 million and PS4 9.2 million and already basically stopped selling any relevant amounts. PS5 could again sell a million less.

  • 0
TheBraveGallade Kakadu18 (on 06 January 2021)

ah, but the vita sold another 6 mil or so

  • 0
Mnementh TheBraveGallade (on 11 January 2021)

And the PSP another 20M

  • 0
TheBraveGallade Mr Puggsly (on 06 January 2021)

ps2 to ps3/psp was a 50% growth while ps4/psvita was a minor drop in japan. if they sell only as much as the ps4 did, thats a 100% decrease in total market share, from around 35% of the market down to 15-20% or so. ergo, 7 milion VS 25, maybe even 30 milion

  • +1
AFattyGamer (on 06 January 2021)

What Sony's PS5 can't do in Japan it more than makes up for it worldwide. I don't see this as a big deal. The Japanese culture has shifted. Home consoles aren't the lifestyle there anymore, mobile phones and handhelds are. The Switch has the handheld factor to it. That's why Nintendo is winning in Japan over Sony. Go outside of Japan and Sony is thriving. Also Sony is having stock issues for PS5 in Japan and clearly PS5 isn't in its 1st full year yet so lets wait and see what happens once Sony can saturate the market.

  • 0
Pemalite AFattyGamer (on 06 January 2021)

This.
Plus the Xbox Series X and Playstation 5 are very large boxes and the homes that are typically occupied are very very small in the Asia region compared to your average western home...

So it generally makes more sense to get a Switch.

  • +3
Jranation AFattyGamer (on 06 January 2021)

But Nintendo is also winning outside of Japan. They made a console that is enjoyed by multiple regions, countries and culture.

  • +7
Pemalite Jranation (on 07 January 2021)

Well of course.
The factors that make the Switch a lucrative device in one region doesn't negate why it is doing amazing in other regions, just different reasons or extra reasons.

Just an example of why the Switch is doing well in japan when all other console manufacturers are in decline.
Nintendo just managed to tick all the boxes for lots of people.

Hopefully this doesn't impact the Japanese influenced titles on Playstation 5, that would be a sad loss to the gaming community as a whole.

  • +6
zero129 Pemalite (on 09 January 2021)

This part made me lol so hard. Me expecting to see a break down of why switch is doing so good in japan from Pem "Just an example of why the Switch is doing well in japan when all other console manufacturers are in decline." , Pems answer "Nintendo just managed to tick all the boxes for lots of people." :-D :-D Classic.

  • +2
INCITATUSBR (on 06 January 2021)

this declinaton seems to be an one -way ticket

  • 0
Jumpinbeans (on 08 January 2021)

This guy clearly hasn't taken into account the world wide pandemic and everything else that has gone into it.

  • -1
Mnementh Jumpinbeans (on 11 January 2021)

That makes no sense at all. The pandemic affects the whole world, yet PS is only failing in japan. The pandemic is also affecting other manufacturers, yet Nintendo is successful in japan. Your analysis clearly is worse than that of 'this guy'.

  • +1
Random_Matt (on 07 January 2021)

In a pandemic with fuck all supply, strange take. Must be a fanboy or just needs to write something to get paid. Sounds like the media in general to be honest.

  • -1
Mnementh Random_Matt (on 11 January 2021)

Yet despite pandemic PS5 is selling well outside japan, and despite pandemic is Switch still selling well in Japan. There is something more to it.

  • +1
DonFerrari (on 06 January 2021)

What a very lousy analysis. Sure we know consoles are in decline in Japan and have been for over a decade already. But to base that on first weeks of PS5 sale that have been all the inventory available is silly.

  • -3
Mnementh DonFerrari (on 06 January 2021)

Not consoles per se are in decline. Only Playstation. Xbox never could land in Japan and Nintendos success strongly corresponds with the design of the console in question. But generally speaking a successful console worldwide for Nintendo is also successful in Japan and an unsuccessful one also fails in japan. The decline of the Playstation brand is completely independent of the success of their console outside of japan.

  • +8
DonFerrari Mnementh (on 06 January 2021)

Consoles are in decline no doubt. Xbox had a big dump with X1 and Series isn't doing much better either, WiiU didn't really put a good show, Switch is a hybrid. So there isn't a shred to support it isn't consoles that are in decline there for a long time.

  • -3
Mnementh DonFerrari (on 06 January 2021)

X1 sold worldwide less. Also Xbox sells not enough in Japan to make any real conclusions.

Playstation on the other hand... PS1 sold 21.1% of their units in Japan, PS2 14.7%, PS3 12.0%, PS4 8.1%. That is a consistent decline.

Now for Nintendo consoles: N64: 16.8%, GC 18.6%, Wii 12.6%, WiiU 23.8%, Switch 22.8%. These numbers fluctuate, but there is no consistent decline, instead a lot depends on the console itself. But the latest ones WiiU and Switch have a share of their sales in japan comparable to PS1. They show no consistent decline as the PS-brand does.

  • +6
The Fury Mnementh (on 06 January 2021)

The Switch is an odd case though as it's both a replacement for the DS and Wii/WiiU. Switch could sell a lot more because it is trying to get both markets, a lot of gamers or younger gen have moved on to mobile but enough will still buy units

  • +9
Mnementh The Fury (on 11 January 2021)

Sure. Yet still WiiU does also a lot better in that department.

  • 0
Jranation DonFerrari (on 06 January 2021)

Last I checled Nintendo Switch is a console.

  • +3
Dante9 (on 07 January 2021)

Yeah, they only managed to sell everything that was available, what a failure. What is the point of this stupid analysis? I mean it's common knowledge that Japan is becoming more and more portable, but at least wait until there's enough stock to go around before making assessments.

  • -4
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