The PlayStation 4 launched in Japan on 2/22/2014 and sold 322,083 units in its first week, an excellent début for the darling of the next-generation console wars. However, the numbers for the second week of Japanese PS4 sales have come in, and it seems that system will have trouble having the same success in its homeland of Japan as it has enjoyed in the West. The PS4 sold just 65,685 in its second week over there, a monstrous drop from its first-week sales, and the worst second-week sales performance for any console in recent memory. For comparison purposes,, the Nintendo Wii U, a system widely derided and mocked by the media as a failure, sold 160,653 units in its second week in Japan. Curiously, the same games and mainstream media that blasted and mocked the Wii Unsure not reporting or commenting on these disappointing and troubling PS4 numbers.
So what does this mean for the PS4? Several things. First, it seems that the system will have to battle a perception of it being a “gaijin” or foreign console to gain mass acceptance in its homeland of Japan, a country whose people are notoriously finicky about buying foreign electronic products (except Apple stuff.) The second thing is deeply related to the first: the PS4 needs to get developer mineshaft, so that it can get the JRPGs and visual novels, hunting games and dating sims and other quirky Japanese game genres that the Japanese gamers love. Those are the type of games that drive console sales over there, and the PS3 has them, as does the Nintendo 3DS and the iOS and Android mobile devices. However, these are the very same revs that view the PS4 as a gaijin system, or just a glorified PC. Japan also took its sweet time getting comfortable with HD game development on the PS3, and many devs are not inclined to develop on the PS4’s x86 hardware, unless Sony provides, development assistance and incentives.
Is it time to hit the panic button? Are consoles dead in Japan? Not yet, but the PS4s honeymoon is clearly over, and Sony’s got their work cut out for them.