We already knew things were tough in Japan for PS4 fans after an upgrade, with Famitsu revealing that only 118,085 PS5 units had been sold in the console’s initial launch week. That’s almost a third of what the PS4 did, although the PS4 launched in Japan a couple of months later than the rest of the world.
So why are things so rough? The running narrative is that Sony has been concentrating on the US and European markets more with the PS5’s launch, with extra supply supposedly going out to the US but not Japan (and not Australia either).
Nikkei Asia has a new story illustrating the difficulties Sony is having, particularly with the decision to scale back supply of the PS4. After selling around 118,000 units in the first week, the PS5 has gone on to sell around 266,000 units in its first two months, significantly lower than the PS3 or PS4 over the same time frame.
The really telling thing in this graph is just how slowly sales have trickled towards 300,000 after its third week of release. The PS5 went on sale in Japan on November 12 — same date as Australia — which means the console has moved approximately 66,000 units since December 3 to early January. That doesn’t mean to say there isn’t logic in Sony’s decision to target the United States and Europe over Japan, where Xbox is more competitive, but it’s illustrative of just how difficult the PS5’s supply issues have been (and how frustrated Japanese gamers must be).
You would have thought that target would be a cinch for Sony especially given the coronavirus situation. Japan is grappling with its third COVID wave, with over 41,000 newly confirmed cases in the last week alone. Lockdowns and states of emergency are being extended. But some restaurants and bars are continuing to stay open, ignoring local government subsidies and incentives to close earlier. (Japanese legislation restricts authorities from forcibly issuing health orders to shut venues down, meaning the success of any lockdown is reliant on the willing compliance of businesses and individuals.)
Still, if Japan continues to be hit with extended lockdowns and more citizens find themselves cooped up inside, people are going to wish they had a PS5 on hand. But if that’s not available, there’s always the PC or the Xbox Series X. Or the Switch, which continues to absolutely slaughter in sales.