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Game unit sales digital ratio for Japanese publishers in Japan ranges from 63%-92% end of CY 2022

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With the recent AC6 sales thread, and Elden Ring thread, digital sales in Japan have been noticed to get quite increasingly high.
Thought it would be useful to show just how high digital unit sales can get in Japan per the fiscal reports of third parties.

One must note that digital sales are not static, across time, across the lifecycle of a single piece of software or installbase of a platform. There are 3 commonly reported digital stats:
Last one will be a mixture of new titles and older titles. Older titles, or catalogue as some 3rd parties define it (for Capcom this is 1Y+ old), have significantly higher digital ratios.

Graph shows the total game units sold for SE, BN, Capcom, KT and SEGA in JP for CY2022 (I've alligned FY quarters to CY):

Media create is sell-through
FY figures are shipment + digital.
Therefore this is a max ratio, and expect a few % drop due to sell-through vs shipment.

Some 3rd parties also include digital heavy expansions, like SE with MMO expansions, however this and digital only games are unlikely to contribute millions of sales, which is the discrepancy between physical and digital.

For reference, when Playstation removed digital only games, PSVR and bundled software units for FY19, it led to a reduction of 10% of total software sales (275M -> 245M)

Screenshot-2023-11-05-at-21-17-05.png


Always hard to directly compare, however SE details digital ratio separately for Japan and NA/EU:

Screenshot-2023-11-05-at-21-35-42.png


My take, JPN digital ratios are surprisingly close to the West, I reckon a 10-20% divergence at best for LTD.
Also let me know if there are any errors in my FY data.
 
Some 3rd parties also include digital heavy expansions, like SE with MMO expansions, however this and digital only games are unlikely to contribute millions of sales, which is the discrepancy between physical and digital.
I think it's highly unlikely digital-only games aren't a significant factor for the publishers in your graph. The five companies you list all release many titles for PC, and those are all digital-only releases. Removing PC sales from the total shipment figures should notably decrease the digital ratios. Although it wouldn't change the data you're showing per se, it means that trying to apply these ratios to a console release and assuming that console release had 63-92% digital sales would be very inaccurate.

The data point you gave to back this up was for Playstation platform sales, which isn't really useful to apply to the companies in your graph, as Playstation platform is not including PC, for obvious reasons.
 
I think it's highly unlikely digital-only games aren't a significant factor for the publishers in your graph. The five companies you list all release many titles for PC, and those are all digital-only releases. Removing PC sales from the total shipment figures should notably decrease the digital ratios. Although it wouldn't change the data you're showing per se, it means that trying to apply these ratios to a console release and assuming that console release had 63-92% digital sales would be very inaccurate.

The data point you gave to back this up was for Playstation platform sales, which isn't really useful to apply to the companies in your graph, as Playstation platform is not including PC, for obvious reasons.
Yeah and we even have a good test case for this with ED-0 since they provided all the figures for the sales. From that we can see that Total digital ratio is ~80% but thats because xbox and steam are fully digital distribution! When we just look at Japan the digital ratio is ~63% (Steam + PS), but again if we drill down to just PS where there is an actual split for delivery method it drops to digital being ~ 42%

So while the digital ratios are likely correct it would be unwise to try and draw a conclusion or blanket statement in relation to retail game performance like "Ohh well it sold X but digital is probably like 80%!"

 
Yes, this is a fairly misconstrued thread with loaded assumptions that entirely ignore PC and back catalog sales to paint an overly rosy picture. Poor use of data.
 
I think it's highly unlikely digital-only games aren't a significant factor for the publishers in your graph. The five companies you list all release many titles for PC, and those are all digital-only releases. Removing PC sales from the total shipment figures should notably decrease the digital ratios. Although it wouldn't change the data you're showing per se, it means that trying to apply these ratios to a console release and assuming that console release had 63-92% digital sales would be very inaccurate.

The data point you gave to back this up was for Playstation platform sales, which isn't really useful to apply to the companies in your graph, as Playstation platform is not including PC, for obvious reasons.

I'm familiar with the best selling games of these publishers. What significant download only games do you see for these publishers, and what are their sales ranges?

That's why I said digital only games were unlikely to significantly change things, since for instance the discrepancy for Capcom is 7M units.

Of course PC is 100% digital distribution and so tilts the average, however the graph is across an entire publisher, it is not meant to represent a single title or platform average. The greater point is the size of digital unit sales in Japan that isn't seen in physical only charts.
 
I'm familiar with the best selling games of these publishers. What significant download only games do you see for these publishers, and what are their sales ranges?

That's why I said digital only games were unlikely to significantly change things, since for instance the discrepancy for Capcom is 7M units.
Capcom's units sales include DLC and last year they happened to release a pretty major DLC in the form of Monster Hunter Rise Sunbreak so I think that could reasonably make up a pretty decent amount of those sales, on top of catalog sales of other DLCs as well. So I don't think Capcom's data really lines up with your ideas.
 
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What significant download only games do you see for these publishers, and what are their sales ranges?
Every PC release. Xbox as well, although likely none or few of those have significant sales.

That's why I said digital only games were unlikely to significantly change things, since for instance the discrepancy for Capcom is 7M units.
As TheSilentWombat said, Capcom had Sunbreak that year, which would account for multiple million sales alone. Capcom also engages heavily in extremely deep discounts of back catalog games, which is another major factor in boosting their ratio. A dirt cheap sale is still a a sale, sure. But it means that sort of ratio can't necessarily be assumed for a game that hasn't had such deep discounts.

Of course PC is 100% digital distribution and so tilts the average, however the graph is across an entire publisher, it is not meant to represent a single title or platform average. The greater point is the size of digital unit sales in Japan that isn't seen in physical only charts.
If platforms have radically different ratios, it needs to be taken into consideration when evaluating how that data is used. If a game is released as a console exclusive, it would need to be understood that these ratios won't apply to it. Similarly, a PC exclusive would obviously not have ratios this low. Games that don't have deep digital discounts will have lower ratios.
I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with your data (other than that it doesn't account for unsold physical shipments and the cases of DLC being counted). My point is that the data can't really be used in the way most people reading your post would likely gravitate toward using it. That's why I wanted to add extra context in my post.
 
I did not know Sunbreak was digital exclusive. Any other notable digital exclusives come to mind for these pubs?
Whats the sales estimate on Sunbreak in CY2022? 1.5M SW, 0.5M others?

Every PC release. Xbox as well, although likely none or few of those have significant sales.


As TheSilentWombat said, Capcom had Sunbreak that year, which would account for multiple million sales alone. Capcom also engages heavily in extremely deep discounts of back catalog games, which is another major factor in boosting their ratio. A dirt cheap sale is still a a sale, sure. But it means that sort of ratio can't necessarily be assumed for a game that hasn't had such deep discounts.


If platforms have radically different ratios, it needs to be taken into consideration when evaluating how that data is used. If a game is released as a console exclusive, it would need to be understood that these ratios won't apply to it. Similarly, a PC exclusive would obviously not have ratios this low. Games that don't have deep digital discounts will have lower ratios.
I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with your data (other than that it doesn't account for unsold physical shipments and the cases of DLC being counted). My point is that the data can't really be used in the way most people reading your post would likely gravitate toward using it. That's why I wanted to add extra context in my post.

Right. The data shows huge digital sales in Japan publisher wide. Its a publisher average not a platform average.

However, considering the size of console software sales in Japan versus PC, even with PC accounted, the data indicates huge console averages.

Catalogue/discounted game unit sales are still sales. As per physical sales charts, or whenever we get game sales data, we are simply looking at the overall sale units not price per unit.

Having a list of big digital only games will definitely help narrow the comparisons. The unit sales difference cannot be understated.

For instance if we took 2M from Capcoms digital coloumn, you still get a huge result of lets say 800K retail shipment vs 5.6M total.

Still haven't read the thread, but just going by the title... 63%-92% must be a mistake, like, a typo in the title, right?

As said in the OP, its not.
Its the ratio of Media Create CY2022 physical sales / total unit sales (incl digital only games) of each publisher per their FY report.
Does not include MTX/DLC sales.

MC CY2022 had SEGA sell ~0.364M
SEGA reported 1.98M shipment+sales for the same period in Japan.
 
Still haven't read the thread, but just going by the title... 63%-92% must be a mistake, like, a typo in the title, right?
It’s a mischaracterisation of actual data to paint a rosier light for digital sales in Japan which will undoubtedly lead to people throwing bs numbers to explain poor PS5 software sales down the road (as if there’s not enough of that already) or to dismiss/discredit the data at hand by claiming that « it doesn’t show the whole picture »
 
We all know what the point of this thread is, it's to use PC sales to try to inflate the digital ratio in Japan for PS5.

No point in beating around the bush here.
 
I'm familiar with the best selling games of these publishers. What significant download only games do you see for these publishers, and what are their sales ranges?

That's why I said digital only games were unlikely to significantly change things, since for instance the discrepancy for Capcom is 7M units.

Of course PC is 100% digital distribution and so tilts the average, however the graph is across an entire publisher, it is not meant to represent a single title or platform average. The greater point is the size of digital unit sales in Japan that isn't seen in physical only charts.

“The greater point is the size of digital unit sales in Japan that isn't seen in physical only charts”
Incredibly important.. I have been saying this for awhile now.

Not arguing or trying to change the PS narrative with this one. I don’t think digital is the saving grace for lackluster physical sales on PS either. My personal point has always been that digital % has increased enough to where it matters in most discussions. (Physical may not paint the whole picture anymore) doesn’t mean that the SW numbers for PS aren’t bad.
 
My personal point has always been that digital % has increased enough to where it matters in most discussions.
No one is saying digital doesn't matter (or at least not that I have seen). What people have usually taken issue with is people pulling digital numbers out of the air.

In particular even as shown in this "analysis" digital percentages vary widely and they will vary even more game to game. So blanket statements aren't great.

The second issue I've seen is people will assume digital sales on previous consoles don't exist. This might make sense for 3ds games or ps3 but if you compare to ps4 then digital games were probably a factor there too!
 
No one is saying digital doesn't matter (or at least not that I have seen). What people have usually taken issue with is people pulling digital numbers out of the air.

In particular even as shown in this "analysis" digital percentages vary widely and they will vary even more game to game. So blanket statements aren't great.

The second issue I've seen is people will assume digital sales on previous consoles don't exist. This might make sense for 3ds games or ps3 but if you compare to ps4 then digital games were probably a factor there too!
We are gaging sales/commercial reception on a chart that only reflect physical sales numbers when digital is rising. It’s clear digital has grown (just how much.. I have no clue) but I believe it’s enough that matters. Even if nobody is out right saying the sentiment is still in the air.
 
This is just a sample size of one purchaser in Japan (myself), I was kind of curious, so I decided to go and look at my purchase history of the last ten years. How much digital and how much package software have I purchased first hand (so excluding second hand software which is package only). The results are a bit shocking.

Digital: Package Total
197:74

This means that my purchases for the last 10 years is nearly 73% digital.

So what does this mean? Digital games sold on sale add up quickly. Fortunately I can look back at my eShop and Steam purchases and add up the total spendings. It amounts to over 65,000¥ over the past 10 years. Not too bad. It's a bit more annoying to add up the package software, so I will do a rough estimation, I bought all these first hand (and I typically buy right at launch, preordering 95% of my games) I bought a total of 7 3DS games for about 3000¥ and 67 Switch games for 6500¥ (probably more because I tend to prefer RPGs which retail closer in the 8000¥, but I will round down for simplicity's sake). This ended up being a total of 456,500¥.

So 87% of money spent on software was packaged software.

Bonus facts: I've purchased a total of 4 digital games at launch, 2 on Steam, and 2 on the eShop(using a voucher).

Edit: Fixed a couple of typos.
 
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We are gaging sales/commercial reception on a chart that only reflect physical sales numbers when digital is rising. It’s clear digital has grown (just how much.. I have no clue) but I believe it’s enough that matters. Even if nobody is out right saying the sentiment is still in the air.
I haven't seen that at all. Even in the Mario Wonder launch thread I was seeing people mentioning the potential digital sales a lot. Doesn't seem like anyone is dismissing digital sales at all
 
We have more real data from Japan publisher regarding weak digital split sales vs actually data with higher digital split actually.

Falcom come out with less than 30% digital in Japan.

The very recent talk by Bamco and D3 also shows very low digital split for their title.

I actually are more opposite here regarding japan digital on consoles. People don't need to buy digital on consoles when they can buy them on PC. While console player become more physical oriented(unless there is big sales) as they can resell the game.

This is just a sample size of one purchaser in Japan (myself), I was kind of curious, so I decided to go and look at my purchase history of the last ten years. How much digital and how much package software have I purchased first hand (so excluding second hand software which is package only). The results are a bit shocking.

Digital: Package Total
197:74

This means that my purchases for the last 10 years is nearly 73% digital.

So what does this mean? Digital games sold on sale add up quickly. Fortunately I can look back at my eShop and Steam purchases and add up the total spendings. It amounts to over 65,000¥ over the past 10 years. Not too bad. It's a bit more annoying to add up the package software, so I will do a rough estimation, I bought all these first hand (and I typically buy right at launch, preordering 95% of my games) I bought a total of 7 3DS games for about 3000¥ and 67 Switch games for 6500¥ (probably more because I tend to prefer RPGs which retail closer in the 8000¥, but I will round down for simplicity's sake). This ended up being a total of 435,710¥.

So 87% of money spent on software was packaged software.

Bonus facts: I've purchased a total of 4 digital games at launch, 2 on Steam, and 2 on the eShop(using a voucher).

This is what many don't seems to understand i feel. The high digital percentage we often sees for a company does not equal to high digital split for launch sales in Japan. The high digital comes from super cheap catalogue sales of titles that have come out for years before and cost pennies so we get it with golden coins or any leftover money we have on our account. This is also not counting how many of those digital percentage is buffed up by dlc purchase as well.

So the formula for me is still simple.

Unless the game:
1. suffer severe shortages
2. Got special deal on digital
3. Release the game several weeks earlier on digital

There is 0 reason to believe there is any special big digital split for those title launch sales.
 
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Catalogue sales are likely the biggest factor for big digital share.
But that still an important market not tracked by Media create.

Thanks to CESA we can have an idea of how some video games series perform.

Last 2 years sales for few franchises in Japan (retail+digital sell in):
20212022LTD
Dragon Quest2,0M1,0M74,0M
Final Fantasy1,0M2,0M65,0M
Tales of690K220K15,51M
Taiko240K330K10,53M
Takken50K40K6,31M
Seiken200K100K5,70M
 
This is just a sample size of one purchaser in Japan (myself), I was kind of curious, so I decided to go and look at my purchase history of the last ten years. How much digital and how much package software have I purchased first hand (so excluding second hand software which is package only). The results are a bit shocking.

Digital: Package Total
197:74

This means that my purchases for the last 10 years is nearly 73% digital.

So what does this mean? Digital games sold on sale add up quickly. Fortunately I can look back at my eShop and Steam purchases and add up the total spendings. It amounts to over 65,000¥ over the past 10 years. Not too bad. It's a bit more annoying to add up the package software, so I will do a rough estimation, I bought all these first hand (and I typically buy right at launch, preordering 95% of my games) I bought a total of 7 3DS games for about 3000¥ and 67 Switch games for 6500¥ (probably more because I tend to prefer RPGs which retail closer in the 8000¥, but I will round down for simplicity's sake). This ended up being a total of 456,500¥.

So 87% of money spent on software was packaged software.

Bonus facts: I've purchased a total of 4 digital games at launch, 2 on Steam, and 2 on the eShop(using a voucher).

Edit: Fixed a couple of typos.
This provides more valid information than the misleading "analysis" of the OP
 
however this and digital only games are unlikely to contribute millions of sales

If data are in terms of units then it doesn't matter whether they contribute to "millions of sales" as long as they move units --- which typically do if we consider catalogue sales, discounts and the fact that digital only games have a lower price tag.
 
I think this is still useful data but it's also really easy to conflate to console digital split and the OP doesn't make enough of a disclaimer to avoid such interpretations. PC sales performance moves differently to console sales. Console physical correlates to console digital sales. This data doesn't disprove that fact and is frankly too vague to make any real conclusions as catalogue/dlc/new releases are all combined as one data point.
 
Catalogue sales are likely the biggest factor for big digital share.
But that still an important market not tracked by Media create.

Catalogue sales have essentially replaced a big chunk of used game sales, but used sales weren't/aren't properly tracked either and have always been a big piece of the Japanese market.

Catalogue sales get publishers some cash, but then the used game economy in Japan helped/helps out with new game sales since a lot of nerds traded their new RPGs in after one week to buy the next one.
 
I could be wrong but I remember that the consensus was that Cesa’s digital numbers are no better than Famitsu’s estimates.
 
Catalogue sales have essentially replaced a big chunk of used game sales, but used sales weren't/aren't properly tracked either and have always been a big piece of the Japanese market.

Catalogue sales get publishers some cash, but then the used game economy in Japan helped/helps out with new game sales since a lot of nerds traded their new RPGs in after one week to buy the next one.

Also Catalogue sales also can be obstacles to new title sales actually there. If in the past, player can quickly buy and then sell their games to recoup any purchase.

Catalogue sales which is abundant will become backlog catalogue for those players that often block them from buying titles day one at full price as they still have huge amount of library untouched.
 
Always hard to directly compare, however SE details digital ratio separately for Japan and NA/EU:
Square Enix numbers inflated by MMO, digital only titles, Steam and even by products they just distribute rather than publish.
* The above numbers cover both HD and MMO games, and includes titles for which Square Enix is the distributor and titles solde episodically” (page 14)
Visit their online store and see how many digital Steam-copies they offer.
 
Square Enix numbers inflated by MMO, digital only titles, Steam and even by products they just distribute rather than publish.
* The above numbers cover both HD and MMO games, and includes titles for which Square Enix is the distributor and titles solde episodically” (page 14)
Visit their online store and see how many digital Steam-copies they offer.

If Square Enix digital share considering MMO, digital only titles, Steam and products they just distribute is 62%, then digital ratio for console games that have a physical presence must be much, much lower.
 
Koei Tecmo gives global digital sales ratios, for last FY it was only 57.6% global and the year before 38.6%. I think it'd be surprising for Japan to be so much higher than the global average, something must be lost in looking at MC top 1000 sellthrough. Sell-in must be appreciably higher considering unsold units, sold through units outside the MC top 1000 and all packaged PC units (Koei does these in Japan/Asia).

Probably more key, they also give global revenue by category too. For last FY that worked out to:

Packaged: ¥17,851,000,000
Digital: ¥12,920,000,000
DLC: ¥1,700,000,000
 
Famitsu just published Switch physical software sales for FY2023 H1, so it can be compared to Nintendo's financial results.
* Notes: Nintendo's data are shipments, and Famitsu's data are sell-throughs. So please keep it for reference only.

Shipments (Apr. 1 - Sep. 30): 17.37M
Nn0yADF.png
Physical sales (Mar. 27 - Sep. 24): 6.83M
rEw2bOx.jpg

I would suggest OP to add this nice 61% figure for "somewhat approximated physical-sale/shipment ratio" on Switch to the conversation, which I peculiarly noticed talked about the market in Japan without discussing Nintendo as a publisher or Nintendo Switch as a platform for some reason.
 
One other thing, does MC cover direct sales for packaged games. I know this this an issue for Famitsu and the Nintendo Store (and can result in sizable disparity, Switch hardware is close to 2m different iirc) but I'm not sure about MC?

I ask this because all the publishers in the OP also operate direct sales digital storefronts (e-Capcom, KonamiStyle, KT's GameCity, etc) and this might also account for some lost packaged sales.
 
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