Hardware Sales In Japan Dropped To A Five-Year Low Recently

By Ishaan . April 28, 2014 . 4:31pm

Two weeks ago (April 14th – 20th), weekly hardware sales in Japan hit a five-year low, Japanese sales tracker Media Create reported on Friday. This, Media Create said, was due to stagnant sales of both PlayStation and Nintendo consoles.


In the case of the Nintendo 3DS/3DS XL platform, sales dropped to 19,943 for the week. Media Create explained that these low sales could be attributed to the “monthly recommended software campaign,” which is a major new promotional campaign Nintendo announced would begin on April 26th.


During the “monthly recommended software campaign,” buyers of new Nintendo 3DS XL systems will get a voucher for a single free game alongside their purchase. Buyers will get to choose between two games every month, with the first two titles being Yo-kai Watch and Animal Crossing: New Leaf. Since the selection of free games will change on a monthly basis, users will be able to hold on to their voucher until they expire on September 30th.


The announcement of the campaign, Media Create said, led to restrained buying on the part of consumers, since anyone that had heard about the campaign was likely going to wait until after April 26th to make their purchase. The campaign, which is in effect now, was introduced just in time for Japan’s Golden Week holiday, which begins on April 29th.


Aside from the “monthly recommended software campaign,” however, sales of other platforms in Japan were low as well. Media Create say that this can be chalked up to new releases failing to sell more than a combined total of 50,000 copies during the week.

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  • Roman

    Could the lowered sales also be a result of the recent Japanese tax hike? It’s only a 3% rise but I feel that its going to take consumers awhile to get used to it.

    • planetofthemage

      I don’t know if that’s a huge factor, but definitely adding to it. Also, it’s the week before Golden Week, and I think they may be waiting for some Golden Week deals.

      • Brion Valkerion

        This. people keep mentioning the tax hike but for purchases under the range of say a new car, its only a few bucks difference now. If like the new… $4 difference makes you decide to not to buy something, you probably should not have been planning to buy it in the first place is my perspective on spending money.

        • Suicunesol

          Those $4 differences all add up, though, with time.

          • British_Otaku

            Definitely, but I’m more put off by the fact that some games and products have a tax hike while with other ones, the company is eating the tax cost.

            And there is also the possibility of people wanting one commodity enough that sales don’t distinctly decrease (in some cases it may increase – at the very least they had good sales just before the tax increase) and it turns out to be easy money.

        • OneOkami

          When I opened a new bank account a few years ago, I opted for debit card purchase service that would take the change difference between the purchase price and the next whole dollar amount and transfer that difference into my saving account.

          We’re talking pennies/dimes/nickels/quarters per purchase here. Not a big deal right? It’s just some extra loose change per purchase. But you know what, that change has added up to approaching $1000 now. That’s from <$1 per purchase. A cursory look at this past April show's an average of 43 cents per purchase. I could buy an Xbox One AND a PS4 AND some games to go with them, or take a vacation somewhere, or just about pay off what's left owed on my car with that money (in fact that's what I'll be doing soon).

          For me that is quite significant. That stuff adds up. And when you go from cents per purchase to dollars per purchase, it adds up significantly more sharply.

        • Subconsciously money saving is money saving when it comes to hobbies (in this case gaming).4.99$ apps that drop to .99$ are enough to make people purchase them, as those 4$ you saved will buy you like 3 more games.

        • Chris Evan Jonance Ingeniero

          that 4 dollar difference if its applied to my country is already equal to a big lunch or dinner or 1 full days worth of food for 1 person :3 being that our exchange rate is 1$ to 45php~ its a very huge difference

    • 60hz

      depends, are other comparable consumer items (entertainment purchases) hit by the same drop in sales? If so you may have a point, if not, then i doubt if there is a correlation… but something tells me this down turn is specific to the game industry soooo i doubt if a 3% hike has much to do with it…

    • ishyg

      I don’t feel it that much. Checked prices of hardware around, the price change is not significant either, so I don’t see it as the reason.

      And I’m also waiting for Golden Week sales, so maybe it can be attributed to that. I think it already started yesterday.

  • XYZ_JolteonZ980

    They failed to address playstation at all only wholly dedicated the whole post to the nintendo marketing campaign. 50K seems like an arbitrarily chosen number to speculate from. Seems like Media Create is just throwing darts at the board and trying to satisfy some word count in their articles yet again

    • ronin4life

      There was this:
      “Aside from the “monthly recommended software campaign,” however, sales of other platforms in Japan were low as well. Media Create say that this can be chalked up to new releases failing to sell more than a combined total of 50,000 copies during the week.”

      Truth is, these other consoles were doing poorly to sub-par despite lots of titles being released these last 4 months(Except WiiU, which has gotten next to nothing software wise). There really isn’t much more to say here: The market isn’t being kind to these systems in part because it doesn’t seem interested.

      3DS however, did have good to great sales and have now slowed way down, so something must have been up.

      • XYZ_JolteonZ980

        What do you mean by lots of titles, there havent been lots of ps4 titles released for example. Amount of titles have been fairly light for most consoles so far.

        I think their report would be a bit more insightful if they had instead reported on the season total of console sales, etc.

        • ronin4life

          There are 4 other systems: WiiU, Ps 3 and 4 and Vita. PS3 and Vita had nearly 3 games released a week over the last 4 months. WiiU had nothing and 3ds had little.

          PS4 JUST came out, and so has few games, and even fewer that would appeal to Japan.

          There isn’t anything to say: 2 systems that just won’t sell, another that won’t sell and has no software at all to even boost sales and an underwhelming launch of the 4th with a dry upcoming lineup. What more is there to say that isn’t summarized in that last sentence?

  • awang0718

    I didn’t know that “monthly recommended software campaign” even existed. That, along with the recent 3% tax hike in Japan, certainly explains the 3DS sales decline. i guess we will have to wait to see how much the 3DS will sell after the promotional program launches.

  • CozyAndWarm

    Ah-ha, I was wondering why 3DS sales seemed a bit low. People can’t resist the allure of free games. It’s really a shame about the recent lackluster console reception in Japan though, especially with the Wii U. It’s gonna be a tough gen for Japanese console gaming, it seems.

  • Like always when Nintendo drops their heavy hitters for the Wiii U sales will spike.

    • ishyg

      They’ve been doing that for a while though. If Mario isn’t a heavy hitter I don’t know what is. We’ll know once Mario Kart 8 is released.

  • Tom_Phoenix

    I’m not surprised. Five years ago, the market was much healthier. DS and PSP were both doing quite well for themselves and the Wii and PS3 were performing alright. Nowadays, the 3DS is pretty much the only platform that has had healthy sales and even it has been posting rather poor figures this year.

    The situation isn’t good and, given the condition of the Japanese economy, could get even worse.

    • awang0718

      Considering that the monthly recommended software program just launched, it is understandable why 3DS sales would be so low. Sales for 3DS will almost certainly pick up significantly once the software program starts becasue people will not be able to resist the thought of a free game.
      However,this 3DS sales increase will not not change the fact that Japanese hardware and software sales have been underwhelming this year. It is entirely likely that Japanese gaming will have to rely on 3DS blockbusters like Youkai Watch 2, Smash Bros., and probably the inevitable Pokemon X/Y remake (Pokemon Z???), as well as Mario Kart 8 and Smash Bros. for Wii U, to stay relevant this year.
      Fortunately PS Vtia sales have picked up a lot from last year, but it is still tracked to only sell 8-9 million units lifetime in Japan, which is embarrassing compared to the PSP, which sold 20 million units in Japan.
      Hopefully sales in Japan will be able to pick up soon.

  • SaiyanJedi_Trunks

    Well now it puts in perspective how systems like Wii U and especially PS4 are not selling well…but also handhelds.

    As for the 3DS XL “monthly recommended software campaign,” that sounds pretty effective. However, I am curious to see how the entire industry as a whole plays out with the Japanese economy.

  • darke

    It thought it was usual there was a dip the week before golden week, and a spike in sales during? Maybe I’m misremembering though. :?

  • Göran Isacson

    So it’s essentially a dip before what the marketing people hope will be a big upsurge for Nintendo, and general lack of attractive new releases combining to drive sales low? Guess that’s explanatory, but I dunno if there’s anything long-term you can read into this. Sounds like this is just a slow week.

    • malek86

      When you get the slowest week in five years, that probably means it’s more than just another slow week. And I don’t think Nintendo’s promotion will create a long-term upsurge anyway.

      Chances are that total hardware sales in 2014 could be lower than in 2013, and that’s including the launch of the PS4 and rise of the PSV.

      • awang0718

        People love free games. Imagine if every PS4 purchase exactly one month from now came with a free game while staying the same price ($400). Everyone would buy a PS4…after the program starts.
        I guarantee the 3DS will get a long-term sales boost thanks to that program. However, that still won’t hide the fact that Japanese hardware sales are really bad, expecially for Wii U and PS4. New, non-3DS software is needed.

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