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The reasons and consequences of the decline of Playstation in Japan [UPDATE: New Guidelines]

Aquamarine

Plays Falcom games on her Steam Deck
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I thought a separate thread should be created for this discussion because it seems to be a recurring topic in the Media Create thread.

Historically, PlayStation has been a dominant force domestically. But over the past few years, the PlayStation ecosystem has shown signs of decline in Japan.

To illustrate this decline, here are compiled sales figures of the Japanese video game market from Media Create White Books that look at the decline from various perspectives.

Data Sources: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9



SCE / SIE total first-party retail software sales in Japan per year:

2013: #10. Sony Computer Entertainment - 1.224.576
2014: #08. Sony Computer Entertainment - 1.683.025 <3,91%>
2015: #06. Sony Computer Entertainment - 1.537.730 <4,12%>
2016: #06. Sony Interactive Entertainment - 1.366.861 <4,25%>
2017: #06. Sony Interactive Entertainment - 1.917.935 <5,95%>
2018: #05. Sony Interactive Entertainment - 1.608.904 <5,65%>
2019: #06. Sony Interactive Entertainment - 1.290.509 <4,80%>
2020: #05. Sony Interactive Entertainment - 1.586.003 <4,83%> (16 new games)


Note a stagnating presence in the market that hasn't improved in the past eight years despite the explosive worldwide success of PS4 and PS5.

Compare to Nintendo who shows a general upwards trend with their first-party games even if they have weak years:

2013: 13,069,179
#01. Nintendo - 9.034.530
#05. Pokemon Company - 4.034.649

2014: 10,697,098
#01. Nintendo - 7.864.301 <18,27%>
#06. Pokemon Co. - 2.832.797 <6,58%>

2015: 9,666,720
#01. Nintendo - 8.796.933 <23,55%>
#10. Pokemon Co. - 869.787 <2,33%>

2016: 8,746,336
#01. Nintendo - 5.208.950 <16,19%>
#03. Pokemon Co. - 3.537.386 <10,99%>

2017: 11,531,533
#01. Nintendo - 9.161.857 <28,41%>
#04. Pokemon Co. - 2.369.676 <7,35%>

2018: 11,967,292
#01. Nintendo - 9.971.257 <35,00%>
#04. Pokemon Co. - 1.996.035 <7,01%>

2019: 11,120,034
#01. Nintendo - 7.903.662 <29,42%>
#02. Pokemon Co. - 3.216.372 <11,97%>

2020: 16,634,035
#01. Nintendo - 15.270.147 <46,48%> (9 new games)
#06. Pokemon Co. - 1.363.888 <4,15%> (1 new game)


This weakness is also reflected in total PlayStation ecosystem software sales.



Total retail software sales by console manufacturer:


PlayStation:

2009:
#03. PSP - 10.269.963
#04. PS3 - 8.343.862
#05. PS2 - 3.495.732
#07. PS1 - 17.372
= 22,126,929

2010:
#02. PSP - 16.418.424
#04. PS3 - 10.149.132
#06. PS2 - 842.607
= 27,410,163

2011:
#01. PSP - 13.898.361
#02. PS3 - 12.531.566
#07. PSV - 496.808
#08. PS2 - 209.404
= 27,136,139

2012:
#02. PS3 - 11.627.502
#03. PSP - 7.653.834
#06. PSV - 1.918.940
#09. PS2 - 48.780
= 21,249,056

2013:
#02. PS3 - 11.965.634
#03. PSP - 4.280.106
#04. PSV - 3.512.352
= 19,758,092

2014:
#02. PS3 - 7.510.433 <17,44%>
#03. PSV - 5.062.082 <11,76%>
#05. PS4 - 2.441.876 <5,67%>
#06. PSP - 1.053.282 <2,45%>
= 16,067,673

2015:
#02. PSV - 5.205.609 <13,94%
#03. PS4 - 5.114.598 <13,69%
#04. PS3 - 4.185.655 <11,21%
#06. PSP - 304.545 <0,82%
= 14,810,407

2016:
#02. PS4 - 8.672.086 <26,95%>
#03. PSV - 4.823.793 <14,99%>
#05. PS3 - 1.629.591 <5,06%>
= 15,125,470

2017:
#02. PS4 - 10.021.801 <31,08%>
#04. PSV - 1.967.023 <6,10%>
#06. PS3 - 225.470 <0,70%>
= 12,214,294

2018:
#02. PS4 - 10.740.999 <37,70%>
#04. PSV - 1.023.787 <3,59%>
= 11,764,786

2019:
#02. PS4 - 9.235.333 <34,38%>
#04. PSV - 301.706 <1,12%>
= 9,537,039

2020:
#02. PS4 - 7.839.893 <23,86%> (211 new games)
#04. PS5 - 109.374 <0,33%> (16 new games)
#05. PSV - 69.251 <0,21%> (7 new games)
= 8,018,518

As you can see, the decline in retail software sales for PlayStation is precipitous year-over-year.


Compare to Nintendo:

2009:
#01. NDS - 27.832.529
#02. WII - 13.521.656
#07. GBA - 53.075
= 41,407,260

2010:
#01. NDS - 21.904.434
#03. WII - 11.669.083
#07. GBA - 7.724
= 33,581,241

2011:
#03. WII - 8.687.291
#04. 3DS - 7.365.636
#05. NDS - 7.275.021
= 23,327,948

2012:
#01. 3DS - 16.737.113
#04. WII - 5.071.405
#05. NDS - 4.882.276
#07. WIU - 848.202
= 27,538,996

2013:
#01. 3DS - 23.575.562
#05. WIU - 1.978.062
#06. WII - 1.580.993
#07. NDS - 505.089
= 27,639,706

2014:
#01. 3DS - 23.387.031 <54,32%>
#04. WIU - 2.826.564 <6,57%>
#07. WII - 477.334 <1,11%>
= 26,690,929

2015:
#01. 3DS - 18.438.698 <49,37%
#05. WIU - 3.926.000 <10,51%
= 22,364,698

2016:
#01. 3DS - 14.780.505 <45,93%>
#04. WIU - 2.206.047 <6,86%>
= 16,986,552

2017:
#01. 3DS - 12.008.236 <37,24%>
#03. NSW - 7.328.882 <22,73%>
#05. WIU - 646.738 <2,01%>
= 19,983,856

2018:
#01. NSW - 13.690.616 <48,05%>
#03. 3DS - 2.942.191 <10,33%>
#05. WIU - 66.655 <0,23%>
= 16,699,462

2019:
#01. NSW - 16.646.620 <61,97%>
#03. 3DS - 664.355 <2,47%>
= 17,310,975

2020:
#01. NSW - 24.636.454 <74,98%> (220 new games)
#03. 3DS - 200.354 <0,61%> (0 new games)
= 24,836,808


H9hM5eW.png


Unlike PlayStation which is clearly shrinking year-over-year, Nintendo remains consistent and even jumped in 2020.



Top 1000 retail software sales by platform:

2013:
PS3 - 273
PSP - 225
3DS - 194
PSV - 122
NDS - 52
WII - 49
360 - 45
WIU - 40
= Sony: 620
= Nintendo: 335
= Microsoft: 45

2014:
PS3 - 271
3DS - 225
PSV - 207
PSP - 111
WIU - 58
PS4 - 58
WII - 34
360 - 22
XB1 - 14
= Sony: 647
= Nintendo: 317
= Microsoft: 36

2015:
PSV - 284
3DS - 266
PS3 - 194
PS4 - 148
WIU - 63
XB1 - 24
PSP - 19
360 - 2
= Sony: 645
= Nintendo: 329
= Microsoft: 26

2016:
PSV - 294
3DS - 290
PS4 - 236
PS3 - 105
WIU - 60
XB1 - 15
= Sony: 635
= Nintendo: 350
= Microsoft: 15

2017:
PS4 - 347
3DS - 264
PSV - 245
NSW - 52
WIU - 43
PS3 - 40
XB1 - 9
= Sony: 632
= Nintendo: 359
= Microsoft: 9

2018:
PS4 - 422
NSW - 206
3DS - 193
PSV - 155
WIU - 13
XB1 - 10
= Sony: 577
= Nintendo: 412
= Microsoft: 10

2019:
PS4 - 469
NSW - 362
3DS - 104
PSV - 60
XB1 - 5
= Sony: 529
= Nintendo: 466
= Microsoft: 5

2020:
NSW - 471
PS4 - 455
3DS - 49
PS5 - 14
PSV - 11
= Sony: 480
= Nintendo: 520
= Microsoft: 0

In 2020, for the first time, the majority of titles in the Top 1000 were released on Nintendo platforms.




Looking forward to 2021, there are further indicators of PlayStation's decline in Japan.

For example, PS5 software sales seem disproportionately small to the amount of hardware they are selling. The Top 30 is dominated by Nintendo titles.

Famitsu reported the best selling software for PS5 from April-September 2021 was Resident Evil Village which only sold 69K packaged units.

Famitsu also reported the install rate of packaged software for PS5 is <7%, which is a very low figure.

Publishers previously swearing to PlayStation exclusively (like Falcom) have announced Switch development.



So what are the reasons for this decline? Can it be stopped or mitigated? Can Sony bounce back? Or is PlayStation destined for obscurity and has Sony written off the Japanese market? Or is all of this fearmongering overblown / supplanted by digital and the decline is mild at best? I'd like to hear your thoughts.
 
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Detailed breakdown by Celine

Celine

Archivist
To respond to @UnusMundus

PS2 isn't really their high-point, though. The decline had already begun by then. They were a very strong publisher on the PSX. They had 11 million sellers on the PSX, which is about two a year. Sure, the third party games are what really made the system a success, but they knew how to consistently create a hit for Japan at the time. If any publisher other than Nintendo had that level of performance today, everyone would be praising that publisher endlessly.
Sony, during the PS1 days, was more proactive since they were launching a totally new platform therefore they needed to find ways to sustain it with software
which is why they began splashing cash at already existing development teams (or to developers forming new studios).
It's evident that SCE were looking back at what worked (and what not worked) on Super Famicom to decide the direction for PS1.
SCE million sellers on PS1 must be looked with a critical eye, because just like with the Famicom, there was a set of first-party games that performed very well due to specific circumstances (being pushed by the platform owner on a brand new exciting platform that exploded on the market).
Looking at Nintendo's million sellers on Famicom there are a bunch of games that were successful due to a first mover advantage and couldn't bring Nintendo an enduring success (look at the generic titles: Baseball, Mah Jong, Volley Ball, Tennis, Soccer, F1 Race, Mah Jong, 4 Players Mah Jong, Pro Wrestling; these accounted for 16.40 million units sold!).
Seemingly a chunk of SCE's first-party million sellers on PS1 weren't really iterable for prolonged success and a few were successful only because they were pushed by SCE during a favourable time (just consider Arc the Lad!).


Copy & paste from an old post of mine (months/years old? can't remember):

Let's look at SCE million seller history in Japan (miss Minecraft on PSV).

Total shipment data in Japan (in million units):

Gran Turismo PS1 SCE 2,55
Everybody's Golf PS1 SCE 2,13
Gran Turismo 3 A -spec PS2 SCE 1,89
Gran Turismo 2 PS1 SCE 1,71
Everybody's Golf 4 PS2 SCE 1,56
Everybody's Golf 2 PS1 SCE 1,49
Parappa The Rapper PS1 SCE 1,48
Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped PS1 SCE 1,45
Everybody's Golf 3 PS2 SCE 1,39
Crash Bandicoot 2 PS1 SCE 1,33
Gran Turismo 4 PS2 SCE 1,27
Devil Dice PS1 SCE 1,12
Arc The Lad PS1 SCE 1,11
Arc The Lad II PS1 SCE 1,06
Intelligent Qube PS1 SCE 1,01
Doko Demo Issyo PS1 SCE 1,01

As you can see Sony million sellers are a bunch of new franchises on PS1 when Sony was on board of a winning train* and sequels of the more enduring success on PS2 (GT, Everybody's Golf).
Full stop (until they published the PSV version of Minecraft).

Now you can make excuses that PS3 and PS4 userbase weren't that large but Splatoon hit 1.5M on the pitiful WiiU install base.
PSP sold like a market leading PlayStation console in Japan (around 20M) and yet still nothing.

Are we really sure we should cry at the japanese consumers for not buying Sony games in masses?
Wouldn't be better to scrutinize Sony's output?

* Also games in a franchise they didn't own (Crash Bandicoot).

LTD from Famitsu:

Arc the Lad
PS1 Arc the Lad 311.236 1.090.000 SCE 30/06/1995
PS1 Arc the Lad III 209.088 379.040 SCE 28/10/1999
PS2 Arc the Lad: Twilight of the Spirits 80.627 185.862 SCE 20/03/2003

PaRappa the Rapper
PS1 PaRappa the Rapper [All Versions] 28.082 1.244.237 SCE 06/12/1996
PS1 Um Jammer Lammy 181.904 406.376 SCE 18/03/1999
PS2 PaRappa the Rapper 2 50.193 98.251 SCE 30/08/2001

XI (Devil Dice):
PS1 XI 131.815 864.844 SCE 18/06/1998
PS1 XI Jumbo 24.417 64.207 SCE 22/12/1999
PS1 XI Go ?? ?? SCE 19/12/2002 (so low it didn't chart?)

Intelligent Qube:
PS1 I.Q Intelligent Cube [All Versions] 24.531 834.677 SCE 31/01/1997
PS1 I.Q Final 63.330 295.084 SCE 23/12/1998
PS2 I.Q Remix+ 10.999 10.999 SCE 23/03/2000

Doko Demo Issho:
PS1 Doko Demo Issho 64.312 808.057 SCE
PS1 Doko Demo Issho: Additional Disc - Koneko Mo Issho 101.775 181.172 SCE 27/01/2000
PS2 Doko Demo Issho: My Real Show 16.316 35.889 SCE 24/04/2003


Number of SCE/SIE published games that sold at retail more than 300K per system in Japan (source: Famitsu):

PS1: 26 (2 Everybody's, 2 GT, 4 Crash Bandicoot which isn't owned by Sony)
PS2: 11 (3 Everybody's, 4 GT)
PSP: 3 (2 Everybody's, 1 GT)
PS3: 7 (1 Everybody's, 3 GT, 1 Minecraft which isn't owned by Sony)
PSV: 2 (0 Everybody's, 0 GT, 1 Minecraft which isn't owned by Sony)
PS4: 7 (0 Everybody's, 0 GT, 3 Call of Duty which isn't owned by Sony, 1 Minecraft which isn't owned by Sony)

EDIT:
The PS4 stat obviously refer at the time when I've written the post, so it's obsolete.
 
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