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Various reports have indicated that the Japanese video game industry was less successful in 2009 than in recent years. This article from Kotaku reports that

In data collected by Famitsu publisher Enterbrain between December 12, 2008 and December 27, 2009, both hardware and software sales were down. Software sales did stiffen up in the second half of the year.

The Mainichi Daily News posted an article about how high expectations were placed on the shoulders of Final Fantasy XIII in Japan prior to its release in December, as the gaming industry hoped the game would help remedy the industry’s slide. Remarking on the price cuts mentioned in other articles, the article also noted that

In September, Sony released a new model PS3 for 29,980 yen, down 10,000 yen from the previous model, while Nintendo cut the price for the Wii by 5,000 yen to 20,000 yen in October.

Gamasutra also discussed the sales slowdown of 2009, noting that

In terms of units, Nintendo DS led the hardware charts, outselling the PSP nearly two to one — although its unit sales combine all models of the handheld, from original to Lite, DSi and DSi LL.

The Gamasutra article did mention that the 6.9% decrease in sales from 2008 wasn’t as bad as 2008’s 17.4% slide, but it is still a substantial decrease in sales for the once-booming industry. Clearly, the video game business is having somewhat of a difficult time right now.

Further, Kotaku also recently listed some ways the Japanese gaming industry can fix itself and avoid another fall in 2010. Among the reasons listed are price cuts on games and hardware and new hardware/consoles themselves (as in redesigned models of current PS3’s, Xbox 360’s, Nintendo Wii’s, etc.) that would improve upon the already existing editions. The consoles that are on the market now haven’t sold as well in Japan as people expected they would, so something needs to be fixed.

Another suggestion Kotaku makes is for more games affiliated with Super Mario, Pokemon, Dragon Quest, and Final Fantasy, some of the most consistently popular game series in the country.

An interesting suggestion Kotaku’s article makes is that of increasing the population of children in the country, since children make up a large amount of video game players. It makes sense that if the population of Japan is decreasing, then there would be less people playing video games as avidly as usual.

The article is an interesting read, so check it out for yourself.

Softpedia commented on the struggle of the Xbox 360 in Japan, which is quite a difference from here in the USA, where it is continually successful.

This whole phenomenon of the video game industry doing poorly in Japan surprised me when I first heard about it; all my life I’ve always been under the impression that Japan’s gaming business would never struggle, and would always be the king of the video game world, exporting titles to the US for gamers here to play after they were already released in Japan. The dwindling sales figures of Nintendo Wiis and Xbox 360 in the country caught me off-guard, and it will be interesting to see if/how the industry rights itself in 2010.

What do you think, how can Japan fix its 2009 video game industry woes??


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3 Comments

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  1. ‘increasing the population of children in the country’ lol that is so funny. With all the sex games Japan has i thought the Japanese would not have an issue with making kids.

    I think a big issue is that Japan is to traditional when it comes to video games. The gamers need to try out new games like FPS and start playing more online. Basically a bit more XBox 360 is what they need.

  2. Interesting read, but I think Kotaku is a little off-base with some of their advice. Over saturation of popular franchises is not the way to go – it has already started, and people aren’t taking to it. Even though Pokemon and Final Fantasy are big name franchises, the spin-offs are substantially less popular than the numbered games and, as time goes on, the over-saturation of spin-offs has created a malaise toward both franchises. Many Final Fantasy fans now gloss over the franchise unless there is a number associated with it, and others just lost faith all together.
    I’m a little shocked that the OP never suggested focusing on new IP. Sure, it doesn’t sound like as safe a bet as Dragon Quest 16, but people aren’t buying what they know, then they’re probably looking for something new. Keep in mind that Monster Hunter is only a 5 year-old franchise and is doing quite well in JP right now. Maybe it’s time to shelf those “tried-and-true” franchises and be creative, before we end up with an industry full of Sonics.

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