Since launching in Japan back on February 22, the PlayStation 4 has amassed sales of over 600,000. When it comes to the weekly Japanese sales chart, it consistently finishes under 10,000, placing usually in line with the Wii U and PlayStation 3 – definitely not the blazing start Sony was hoping for.
Earlier this week at the Develop conference, Sony Computer Entertainment President Andrew House was asked about the PS4’s sales numbers in Japan, admitting, “It’s doing okay.”
House continued by discussing how one of the reasons the PS4 hasn’t caught on quite yet is because of low developer engagement early on:
We’re conscious of the fact we have not had yet the sort of groundswell of Japan native content from Japanese publishers and developers. I view that as temporary.
There’s definite developer and publisher enthusiasm for the platform, especially having seen the overarching success it’s had in markets outside of Japan, and again this outpacing of the PlayStation 2. We’ll see that come into games people in Japan will get excited about, but unfortunately a little bit later than has happened in other markets.
Due to the “comfort level around PS3” and “slight level of concern around the viability of the console market in Japan,” House says, “When we were evangelizing around the platform, we were having a tougher sell with Japanese publishers and developers.” The good news, however, is that “we’ve really turned a corner on that and demonstrated that if you’re a publisher that wants to reach a global market with good and immersive games then the PS4 is definitely the place to be.”
Getting back to the PS4’s adoption in Japan, House believes another factor contributing to the low sales is the lack of a secondary reason to purchase one:
I don’t wish for this to sound like an excuse, but it’s something I’ve observed in Japan as I do live there.
There’s a primary reason to buy a PS4, which is great games. The second thing I definitely think has happened – it’s certainly happening in Europe maybe more than elsewhere – is that much earlier in the platform’s lifecycle, we are reaching a broader audience than just a core gamer. One of the factors behind that is that all of the work we did on PS3 to offer people this secondary reason to purchase, including catch up TV services.
After talking about how, in the United States, streaming through Netflix and Amazon Video is a major factor for the system, House said, “If you look at the Japanese market, for a variety of reasons, you have not seen a dominant player in streaming services happen. You see an inherent conservatism around film and TV content holders that doesn’t allow for the rise of these brand new services. I think that’s another factor.”
House is somewhat optimistic about the future though, saying, “We’ll see over time great games coming from Japanese publishers and developers. That’s point number one. Point number two, which is hampering us a little bit, is for a variety of other structural reasons around the entertainment industry in Japan, we’re not seeing that secondary usage. Those two are colluding together.”
Mark Cerny then added, “It’s because the products are not there to compel the people to buy the console. We’ll have a much better read on that a year or two after the Japanese publishers start releasing those interesting titles.”