I just took a quick peek at the Japanese console sales charts and I think it is safe to say that the newness is starting to fade from this generation of consoles. This is by no means a doom and gloom statement, it just means that now some game developers need to step up to the plate and convince people to buy into all of the new hardware floating around.
Microsoft will again be the loser in the Japanese console market. The Xbox 360 just does not have titles that Japanese people are interested in. Halo 3 will most definitely boost sales in the United States and Europe but not many Japanese gamers play Halo. I am positive I will be able to walk into any store here on the day Halo 3 is released and walk out with a copy of the game if I so desired. It is a shame for MS that they can’t find some way to connect with the inhabitants of this little island country because the 360 is a very solid console. As for the last week of August, they moved less than 1,500 consoles here.
Nintendo also has to be wondering if the sky is falling or at the very least, slowly moving downward. In a country that has historically gobbled up well over 100,000 DS Lites a week, sales have fallen below 100k in the same end of August time period. The sales of the Wii have also started to slow down quite a bit. Things will pick up when the new Smash Brothers comes out along with the new Mario title but I don’t think they are going to get back to where they were. Nintendo needs to sit down with developers and explain to them that every man, woman, child, and dog in Japan now has a DS and to keep good titles coming to keep the people happy.
Lastly, the clumsy giant that is Sony. I am curious as to how the slimmer PSPs will sell, but if I were a betting man I would guess they don’t make much of a bump in terms of console sales. The Playstation 3 moved less than 20,000 units last week and when you see numbers like that in your home country, you need to wonder what you did to make your fan base melt away. PS3 sales here have never been staggering and they are getting worse, I say it is time for a price drop and a new bundle of some sort. I have to say, anytime I can walk into a video game shop here and can buy a used console for a system that has been out for less than a week, I have my doubts for the future of that system. I was able to do just that for the Playstation 3. The upside for Sony is that they have some decent looking games coming down the pipe that might help them out; I am particularly interested in Warhawk. Right now though, Sony really needs a hit if they expect to stay competitive in the months to come.
Having said all of this, it is important to note that this is a generally slow time for the video game market. As things ramp up toward the holiday season, console sales will jump to life again with the help of a slew of new games. It is important for the big three guys to keep in mind that now that the new plastic smell has worn off of our next generation consoles, we expect to see some games that take advantage of all that these systems have to offer. August ended well for gamers who were drooling over Bioshock, now let’s see how September and October do. Bring on the games!