Console sales in Japan have taken a dramatic twist with Sony’s underdog PS Vita beating Nintendo’s much newer Wii U console to a crushing defeat. Read on to find out more.
In the last week of June, thanks to the surprise smash-hit “Toukiden” for PS Vita selling above 127,000 units, the PS Vita sales lifted to high 34,000 for just one week. The scores for last week were just 14,000. Despite almost no marketing push to back the game launch, Toukiden’s success carved the path for a superb week of sales for Sony’s portable game console, with other new titles also assisting to achieve the same goal.
Amidst all this, popular Japanese console maker Nintendo continued to take a beating. Sales have dropped to a paltry 5,800 in Japan, their home ground, facing the heat from all the hype surrounding next-generation consoles, namely the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4. The number 5,800 represents less than 5% of the total console sales in Japan. That the Wii U will make a comeback without something “big” (by big we mean some new 3rd party IPs, excellent titles and perhaps a hardware revision leading to a drop price, a significant drop at that).
The handheld console market is a heated up battle zone, with both Sony and Nintendo fighting to be top dog in their home grounds. The combined sales of the 3DS and PS Vita tally up to 74% of the total console market in Japan. While the Vita sold 34,000 units in the last week, 3DS continues to dominate with 45,000 units sold. Sony did manage to close the gap a little bit, but we don’t know whether that will sustain.
With more and more sales for the PS Vita, and the 3DS still doing great in the market, we are more likely to see new 3rd party titles for either consoles (more so for the PS Vita). Thanks to Sony’s recent indie development push, small (and enjoyable) titles will always remain something that Sony’s handheld beauty can boast of. Also, the Vita has been out long enough to warrant a hardware revision soon, perhaps in the 1H of 2014. A slim PS Vita with a lower price tag, or perhaps bundled AAA games would only drive console sales higher up. Meanwhile, dismal performance by the Nintendo Wii U makes us question whether 3rd parties would be willing to develop titles, spend their time and money, for the troubled console. It will be particularly interesting to see what strategy Nintendo adopts to fight this situation. We doubt that the Japanese company can turn the tides in a short time, but perhaps with more software updates (enhancing the UI and other features), opening up the doors to more developers (or attracting them with money) and perhaps even providing free games to owners (although we don’t see this one happening) to lure new buyers as well as keep their fanbase loyal would be some of the things that I am anticipating, or hoping to see.
With the market continuing its shift to Smartphones and tablets, more and more developers are spending their resources to release titles for the mobile platforms. Dedicated handheld consoles are soon to be a thing of the past, of course unless they bring something to the table, something a Smartphone cannot provide.