Console Sales Increased In Japan Last Week. Here’s Why.

By Ishaan . April 4, 2014 . 11:02am

Last week’s Japanese videogame sales saw a sudden increase across the board. Both hardware and software sales in Japan were up, and as far as we were aware, there was no special occasion or event—a holiday such as Golden Week, for example—that was responsible for the surge.


I sought the advice of Japanese sales tracker Media Create to ask if they could provide insight into just what had occurred last week. Sales of the Nintendo 3DS, PS Vita and even the Wii U had increased by a notable margin, as had sales of popular games like Yo-kai Watch. Surely, something had to have happened for sales to increase this way?


Media Create analyst Sho Sato informed me that it was actually a bunch of different things that had happened all at once.


For starters, in Japan, a consumption tax (VAT in other countries) was scheduled to increase from 5% to 8% starting April 1st. This had caused a sudden last-minute surge in demand for all sorts of goods before they went up in price, in the days leading up to the tax increase. More information on this tax can be found at Business Report.


Second, most Japanese schools—from elementary school to high school and university—have a Spring vacation that lasts from late March to early April. While the exact timing of this vacation differs from district to district, it too played a role in last week’s sales surge. Adding to its effect is the fact that a new school year begins in April, so demand for a handsel (for graduation, admissions and so on) increases during this period.


Finally, the 25th of each month usually serves as payday at most Japanese companies, and the days following payday see an increase in the sales of videogame hardware, particularly in the case of the PlayStation format. Meanwhile, holidays usually boost the sales of hardware, too—particularly Nintendo hardware. Since both kinds of events coincided last week, it resulted in both Nintendo and Sony consoles seeing increased sales.


Thanks to Media Create for their invaluable insight.

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  • Shippoyasha

    Just horrid that they are increasing tax on goods shipped to foreign nations and they are increasing the tax for Japanese citizens as well. Just counterintuitive to ‘fix’ the lack of spending issue by upping the tax..

    A lot of otaku and Japanese goods buyers/importers were hit bigtime recently and I don’t know how feasible it is to contend with pricey shipping costs and the tax added on top.

    Real shame that the upsurge in spending is not because of buyer confidence, but abject fear of contending with the tax going into the future.

    • Fronkhead

      The sales tax hike is at least funding the 5 trillion stimulus package Abe has planned alongside the 1 trillion for some sort of tax cuts and a low earners’ cash allowance. Still so much uncertainty though around how Japan’s economic growth will react, given so many of the factors at play here. Hm…

    • Brion Valkerion

      Or you know… the country could go bankrupt and you oktaku and japanese goods buyers can get nothing lol.

      Its no different as when the Yen to Dollar or w/e currency changes. Besides, everyone saw this coming 5 years ago when the yen was worth almost $2 in conversions.

      Either way its not THAT bad. only 3%… and the shipping prices were already nuts to begin with haha. Unless you buy huge bulk orders or a house or something should be fine with a few extra cents/dollars.

    • Ethan_Twain

      Contrary to certain political rhetoric, tax increases are not an inherently misguided notion and indeed are at times absolutely necessary. The economic stimulus plan Japan is pursuing is ambitious and actually a very interesting issue. There was a question asked about this at an economics lecture I was lucky enough to attend last month – believe me, it’s a very well thought out agenda that may or may not succeed but is at least conceptually sound.

      Let’s maybe cool it on passing judgement on foreign economic policy in our video game website comment section.

    • M’iau M’iaut

      Are we really trying to claim the money spent by importers on their figgies and games means one darn thing to the Japanese economy should it go away? Take the wooden soapbox somewhere else.

      • ishyg

        I’m quite curious about the wooden sopabox part. Care to explain why you used the phrase? It’s the first time I’ve ever heard (or read) it, and Google searches for idioms such as that are not showing up. Sorry for the nuisance by the way, I’m just curious of it.

        • Emsa

          “get on your soapbox”

          to start expressing strong opinions, especially about a subject that people are bored of hearing you speak about

          Usage notes: A soapbox is a wooden box that people stood on in the past when they were making a speech in public.

          • ishyg

            Ahh, the more you know. I learned something new today. Thanks a bunch!

  • xAtKx

    And with that the cost to import just got a little bit higher.

  • Jungo

    While the news about the tax increase is worrisome, this is still super interesting analysis. Thanks for working so hard to get this information!

    • John Diamond

      wow so they get a 3% increase, from 5% to 8% and in the uk we go from 17.5% to 20%… CAMERONN!!!!

      • Locklear93

        Some states in the US (Delaware, for example) have no similar tax at all. <_<

        • I can confirm that. I live in Delaware so its tax free.

          • malek86

            Mind you, it just means you have to pay for healthcare and other stuff. If the government doesn’t take your money in one way, it takes it in another.

            What goes around, comes around.

          • Tylor Boreas Makimoto

            So does Alaska, but no one wants to live there. Too much Palin

      • Dude, 21% in the Netherlands… Don’t begin about taxes on loan.

      • ishyg

        But generally things are already expensive as it is.
        Anyways the hike from 3% to 5% occurred two decades ago I think, so the hike from 5 to 8 is well, a thing to them.

  • Guest

    That’s a really adequate article header, until a sequel is announced I expect Youkai Watch sales to keep their momentum, even more so during Golden Week with the anime doing excellent rating numbers every week and the manga pulling around 100k per week. I’d dare to say the game will sell better than all the first iterations of others Level-5 IPs in the long run.

  • RedSuisei

    Does the increase in VAT affect people importing from Japan anyway? I remember one online hobby shop in Japan mentions that VAT only applies to local customers and foreign customers aren’t affected by VAT.

    • malek86

      Yes, in theory, VAT only applies to local sales of goods. If the good is exported, then no VAT must be paid to the country – although the importer will likely have to pay the VAT of their own country upon arrival.

      Of course, if you consider the case of an item bought second-hand, the japanese VAT has already been paid on it, so you’re looking at a double taxation for the importer. I don’t know how it works for export shops based in Hong Kong or other countries outside of Japan either.

      • Fronkhead

        I guess it depends on whether the seller reselling the goods is pricing them proportionally to the original price based on inclusive tax. Surely not paying the proportional tax in Japan on a preowned good pretty much offsets the amount the original seller would have passed onto us?

  • malek86

    I find it interesting that Sony consoles sell better on paycheck day, while Nintendo consoles sell better in the holiday period. Stereotypes aside, that really does prove that there’s quite a difference between the two demographics – older for Sony consoles, younger for Nintendo ones.

  • Tsurugi

    Inazuma Eleven GO! and Youkai Watch MUST reach US !!!

    • Bigabu Beaze

      LBX too!

      • Tsurugi

        Yes. I forgot that one, this game is epic, and the last one Danball Senki Wars I want to play this game!!!

  • ronin4life

    Makes sense.
    Had forgotten all about the tax hike when I was baffled by the WiiU/3DS uptick.

  • Ethan_Twain

    Tell the truth Ishaan: Your real ambition in working at Siliconera is to land yourself a job at Media Create isn’t it?

  • 愛憎

    That consumption tax increase really sucks.
    I know people who bought cars before the tax increase.

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