The PS5 may be in hot demand worldwide, flying off of shelves both physically and digitally, with inventory still difficult to find nearly two months after release, but a report from a research firm says the company’s standing in Japan is withering away. Low launch sales in the region have Ace Economic Research Institute analyst Hideki Yasuda “deeply concerned for the future of the PlayStation market in Japan.”
Famitsu sales data published on GamesIndustry.biz Japan (translated on ResetEra) shows that the PS5 only sold 240,000 units in its first six weeks, the worst launch performance of any PlayStation console in the region besides the PSP. Yasuda says the sales figures show a pattern of disregard for the Japanese market. “Quantitative analysis shows that Sony is not taking Japan seriously.”
A sales chart show comparative numbers of similar sales periods for other consoles, with projections for the PS5 saying its lifetime sales in Japan could end up at less than half of the PS4 if trends continue.
While sales numbers can be allocated to limited launch inventory, with an expected surge once Sony gets manufacturing and supply worked out, there are still a number of factors over the last decade that Yasuda is taking into account in his analysis of the brand’s decline in Japan. He specifically outlined the following:
- The PS4 launched in 2013, but Japan’s release came afterward.
- After fall 2018, Sony implemented its own regulations on depictions in games, which has censored content aimed at Japanese users
- The PS5 reveal video had no Japanese narration, while there were issues with the font used for the subtitles as well as their Japanese translations
- The confirm button was changed from O to X in order to set a global standard
- Due to manufacturing issues, the initial launch allocation for PS5 in Japan was barely above that of the PS3, preventing the system from reaching early adopters
Yasuda also contributed to a Bloomberg report last year that talked about Japan being “sidelined” by PlayStation, not only in focusing promotional marketing on the US territory, but also in cuts happening to the Japanese development teams the publisher has under its umbrella. Notable departures from Sony’s Japanese arms have been occurring with more frequency lately. In response to the Bloomberg report, PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan claimed the allegations were false, and that Japan remains important to the PlayStation brand as its home territory, but Yasuda says the actions of the company in the region don’t match their words.
Sony relocated its headquarters from Japan to the US back in 2016, a major move that caused Japanese gamers to “become rather cold” towards the publisher, saying that it was losing its core Japanese principles. Despite Sony touting the PS5 as the biggest PlayStation launch in history, Yasuda thinks the company will come to regret ignoring the Japanese market.
“Japanese users aren’t likely to channel their dissatisfaction on social media, so US SIE HQ staff might perceive that as the Japanese just politely accepting whatever is given to them, regardless of how cold they have actually become,” Yasuda said. “However, that couldn’t be further from the truth: they’ve simply begun to vanish into the sunset quietly.”
Whether Sony takes notice of this quiet decline amidst the worldwide success of the PS5 remains to be seen, but much of Sony’s strength has been in its attention to a diverse range of content appealing to all regions. “Early PS5 trends have shown that the PlayStation brand in Japan is in decisive decline and ACE Economic Research Institute cannot help but be disappointed,” Yasuda said. “We think Sony will come to regret this.”