The PS5 Has Barely Sold In Japan Since Christmas

The PS5 Has Barely Sold In Japan Since Christmas
Image: Sony

It’s hard to buy a PS5 anywhere in the world. But for Japanese gamers, already annoyed at the reversal of the circle and X buttons and the severe lack of supply, things definitely aren’t improving.

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.


ps5 japan
Image: Nikkei Asia/Famitsu

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.


  • The comments and articles about Sony “abandoning” jp has been rather interesting… as someone who loves jp stuff and been a sony person since psx i cant help but agree though a lot of jp games i buy when given the choice i buy at Switch. Obviously anecdotal since every person has a different preference…

    Also kinda interesting how everyone in the west is trivialising the swap of x and o… i dont think people outside of jp realise that swapping those 2 is as close as you get to the equivalent of forcing everyone to use left as their dominant hand even though right is your dominant hand

    • As someone who remembers back in the PS1 days of o being the main button in some games, this change would send me around the bend as well. It’s like when you play a sequel and the button layout is slightly different and you die 5000 times more often that you did in the first game due to hitting the wrong button. Only now that’s the entire console. They really should’ve left it alone.

      • Has it been confirmed that it has been changed globally across both consoles and games? I did a little google search and found someone on stackexchange posting that it still works the same way for the Japanese versions of games, and that the swapping of confirm and cancel is only done on the PS5’s menus. Can’t really find anything else via googling though.

          • so in japan the X and O buttons worked the same way the switch has its A and B buttons backwards when compared to an xbox controller?

            It always takes me about 5 minutes of gaming to get my head around the change of location for the ‘action’ button when I jump from xbox to switch haha

          • @wonderingaimlessly Yeah, but the problem is it’s not reflected in the games themselves. So Demon’s Souls will still use o to confirm in game, but it’ll use x in the PS5 menu to confirm to load the game for… reasons? It’s much like Sony’s recent censorship of any game with any skin in it. The ratings agencies already work in that area, so why they’re meddling with either that or the confirm button when both are pointless is a mystery for the ages.

    • I saw the other day that sales last year had Nintendo Switch equal 87% of the market share.

      The Switch with those figures and easier coding with its support of popular game engines you will see more JP games heading to Switch.

    • I think a lot of these comments also miss that JP apartments tend to be small and the PS5 is just way too big. Which I imagine plays into the decision not to upgrade as well.

  • I was hoping an article on this topic would go into a bit more detail about stock availability, economic situation (jobs growth/loss, layoffs or reduced hours, etc) along with the amount of marketing spent by Sony and various retailers, comparison with average spending in japan over this period (to see if purchasing has dropped which sometimes happens in emergency situations as people tend to be more conservative in spending) etc etc.

  • Me, on swapping X and O buttons:
    “Pff, what’s the big deal?”
    Me, on Y-axis inversion:
    “Goddammit why aren’t all games inverted by default?!?!”

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