Late last year, a lengthy Bloomberg report claimed that Sony’s PlayStation division has been overlooking the Japanese market in favor of Western markets, drawing the ire of consumers in its home turf. The company vehemently denied Bloomberg’s report, but not long afterwards, a Japanese Games Industry article made similar claims, and now, one of the world’s largest financial newspapers has published a report highlighting Sony’s peculiar position in the Japanese market.
A report by Kosuke Shimzu of Nikkei Asia has revealed that the PlayStation 5 remains in severe shortage in Japan, and despite promising to release more inventory during the holiday 2020 period, it appears that Sony did not ramp up supply in the country for the prime shopping season. Although supply remained low in the West as well, some Western retailers were allocated stock before Christmas. It’s unclear if the same was done in Japan or not.
An interesting part of Nikkei’s report reveals how creative Japanese retailers have been when it comes to selling the PS5. Unlike the West, where scalpers continue to snag thousands of consoles, Japanese retailers have been using an online lottery system to sell PS5s, which somewhat helps them circumvent the issue of bots and scalpers while preventing crowds at stores.
As previously reported, the PS4 outsold the PS5 in Japan, and much of the low sales were down to supply constraints. The PS4 remains popular in the country, and according to Nikkei, Japanese consumers were a little blindsided by Sony pulling the plug on all but one PS4 models. At least four of those were discontinued way back in April 2020 – long before the PS5 even launched. This is quite a departure from Sony’s previous approach to phasing out consoles.
Many believe that part of the reason Sony’s more focused on the Western market is stiff competition from rival Microsoft. Despite its efforts, the Xbox Series X manufacturer experienced a lukewarm reception in Japan, selling only 30,000 units to date. As Nikkei puts it succinctly, “In other words, Sony does not have to worry about Xbox conquering the Japanese market” unlike the West.