Is Japan over gaming?

Game console, software sales sinking in Japan

Japan's console and handheld gaming market saw sales drop 13 percent in the April to September period as consumers cut back on software spending and sales of new consoles slowed.

The entire market was worth ¥186.6 billion (US$2.2 billion) during the six-month period, market-data provider Enterbrain said on Thursday. The time period corresponds to the first six months of the Japanese financial year.

Software accounted for roughly two thirds of the market, but overall spending on games slipped 6 percent from the same period a year earlier.

Nintendo's "Pocket Monsters Black and White" easily ranked as the best-selling game of the period selling 3.4 million copies. That's more than double the second place title and all the more impressive because its launch came just eight days before the end of the period being measured.

The strong sales were helped by pre-launch reservations of 1.9 million units, said Satoru Iwata, president of Nintendo, during a Japan news conference on Wednesday.

"When we looked into past data as well, it turned out that Pokémon Black and Pokémon White have actually established the new first-week sales record in the history of the entire Japanese video game industry," he said. The timing of the launch helped push sales because it came, "just when it was able to make the best use of the largest installed base of the hardware," he said.

Another DS game, Square Enix's "Dragon Quest Monsters Joker 2," ranked in second place with sales of 1.3 million units.

Third place was "Wii Party" with sales of 971,006 units, fourth place was "Inazuma Eleven 3: Challenge the World" at 836,341 units, and "Super Mario Galaxy 2" rounded out the top five with sales of 793,623 units.

Those sales meant that Nintendo games beat out titles for competing systems in each of the top five positions.

The hardware market saw a steeper drop with sales down 24 percent.

The Nintendo DS ranked as the best selling gaming device of the six-month period. It sold 1.1 million units, according to Enterbrain.

The competing PlayStation Portable from Sony took second place with sales of 850,876 units.

In the home console space, Nintendo's Wii took the top spot on sales of 549,834 units. It was followed by Sony's PlayStation 3 at 602,821 units, and Microsoft's Xbox 360 rounded out the sales ranking in fifth place with 108,973 units.

Enterbrain's sales estimates are based on point-of-sales system data from 3,500 computer game retailers in Japan.

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Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
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