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Can Hatsune Miku Help Vita? PlayStation JapanStyle Special Report

August 31, 2012 Written by Heath Hindman


Hatsune Miku is a pop culture icon in Japan, despite only having a minor following in most other regions of the world. Powered by the same voice generation software that made Nyan Cat, this fictional lady still manages to draw huge crowds to live concerts and sell software by the boatload. On Thursday in Japan, the PlayStation Vita finally got Hatsune Miku: Project f, which Sony is surely hoping will give its portable a kick in the sales pants. PlayStation Japan Style will usually be a monthly column, but for this occasion, I’ll give you a look around the Japanese Miku hype train.

…Or lack thereof. I’ve been out and about on some amazing “day ones” for games like Monster Hunter Portable 3, Dragon Quest IX, various Mario games, and so on, and seeing the crowds of people anxiously waiting can be almost as interesting as the game itself. Almost. Excited see what I could find on Miku‘s long awaited release date, I took the camera on a ride around town to find…not much out of the ordinary.

Don’t get me wrong, there is visible hype all around, just not what I’d expect for a game that is expected to be one of the most appealing on a given system, for the local audience. Convenience store chain Family Mart has these special Hatsune Miku riceballs called “Hatsune Miku Zangi Mayo.”

Here’s someone eating one. It tastes like curry and rice if curry and rice tasted like a punch in the stomach. My review is more honest than hers.

Within the game shops themselves — two nationwide chains and two independent stores — the situation varied.  The two independent shops didn’t seem to care much at all about Vita, one not having any copies of the game and the other only having one. One, shoved into the bottom left corner of the Vita section, as you can see below (click for larger version)

More systems in peoples’ hands means more software being sold, so I don’t know why an independent game shop wouldn’t want to try and stir up some demand for a new game in a series that has proven very popular this last half-decade. It really disappointed me to see no poster, no promotional announcement, and this store’s only copy of the game relegated to a corner. Game sales haven’t stagnated completely, but they’ve slowed down a lot. If I owned a game shop, I’d be promoting the hell out of the new gadgets.

While one chain store had plenty of copies of the game and a few bundles available, it lacked any sort of poster or special display announcing the game’s arrival. At least the other did, as it showed off this big table of hooplah to all who entered:

Nice. That big HD TV was looping a trailer, and plenty of copies and bundles were on display as a hot new item. That’s what you have to do in order to promote a product. You have to remind people that the public again and again and again that it’s out there and that it does get some cool stuff. Does Hatsune Miku appeal to every single person in Japan? Of course not, but no series does. It’s all about finding that niche and getting it interested in the new system. If those people never felt any reason to investigate the Vita (or whatever system) before, maybe they will now? And among those that do check it out, not all of them will buy it, but some will surely notice other appealing games, lay down the cash, and enjoy the products.

As a serious gamer, I generally wish success upon all new platforms. As an enthusiastic Vita owner, I really hope that Miku can give the Vita at least some small sales lift. We’ve seen the PSV get some boosts from other pieces of key software, but the relief was only temporary. First-week sales data will become available next week. We’ll have to wait till then to get an idea of how much Miku can do for the Vita.