Japan’s Golden Week holiday this year was a sorry state of affairs for the console games industry. Like last year, sales during the holiday period were disappointingly low, considering that Golden Week is traditionally a period where Japanese people spend money on keeping themselves entertained.
At first, things don’t seem so bad. Total software sales during the entirety of the Golden Week holiday period (April 27th – May 10th) were 1.144 million units, Japanese sales tracker Media Create reports. That’s 113.61% of the same period (April 28th – May 11th) last year, which sounds promising. Unfortunately, that isn’t really the case.
The slight increase over last year comes from the first half of the Golden Week period (April 27th – May 3rd), which saw a bunch of notable releases such as Puzzle & Dragons: Super Mario Bros. Edition, a new expansion for Dragon Quest X, and Xenoblade Chronicles X. In particular, Puzzle & Dragons helped boost the numbers a fair bit, since it sold nearly 180,000 copies at launch. In comparison, Golden Week in 2014 only saw one new release—Mario Golf: World Tour—which managed just 50,000 sold at launch.
Unfortunately, when one looks at the bigger picture, the fact of the matter is that sales during the first half of Golden Week this year were 66.46% of the same period in 2013 (April 22nd – May 5th), and 61.01% of same period in 2012 (April 23rd – May 6th). So, while total sales were up slightly compared to 2014, sales have still stagnated significantly compared to the last few years.
The latter half of this year’s Golden Week is where the blame lies. Sales in the latter half dropped to 52.12% of the first half, and were 89.17% of the same week last year, so the drop is considerable. The second half of Golden Week is typically a period where popular games that are already available have a chance to keep the market in good health, as more and more people take the opportunity to catch up on titles they’ve missed. Unfortunately, that wasn’t really the case this year.
Even worse, while the week immediately following the end of a holiday usually sees a significant drop in sales, this year’s drop was particularly terrible. The week of May 11th – May 17th marked the lowest post-Golden Week period since 2001. That is very bad. (Meanwhile, in comparison to 2014, sales dropped to 61.93%.)
One explanation for the post-Golden Week drop is that there were no significant new releases. Last year saw the release of [email protected]: One For All, which sold 83,000 copies at launch, with a sell-through of 92.56%. The only new release this year after the Golden Week period was Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster for the PlayStation 4, and it sold a mere 16,000 copies.
Food for thought:
While Puzzle & Dragons: Super Mario Bros. Edition was a notable new Golden Week release this year with 180,000 copies sold at launch, in 2013 Tomodachi Life sold 210,000 copies during the first half of Golden Week, and it wasn’t even a new release.