PS4 Not Yet a Big Hit in Japan; Here's Why Sony Says It's Only "Doing OK"

PlayStation boss Andrew House says he thinks the platform will really take off when content is created specifically for Japanese gamers.

PlayStation boss Andrew House has provided an assessment of the PlayStation 4's health in Japan. His verdict? "It's doing OK," he told Eurogamer in a new interview from the Develop conference in Europe this week. The PS4 launched in Japan at the end of February and sold more than 370,000 units in a matter of days. Eurogamer reports that the system's current total sales tally for the island nation is 620,000 units.

Globally, the PS4 has sold more than 7 million units as of April 6. In the UK specifically, the PS4 is the fastest-selling console in the history of video games. So what, then, is keeping the PS4 from taking off in Japan? According to House, there are not many PS4 titles designed by Japanese developers, and this could be holding the system back.

"We're conscious of the fact we have not had yet the sort of groundswell of Japan native content from Japanese publishers and developers," House said. "I view that as temporary."

"We're conscious of the fact we have not had yet the sort of groundswell of Japan native content from Japanese publishers and developers. I view that as temporary" -- Andrew House

"There's definite developer and publisher enthusiasm for the platform, especially having seen the overarching success it's had in markets outside of Japan, and again this outpacing of the PlayStation 2," he added. "We'll see that come into games people in Japan will get excited about, but unfortunately a little bit later than has happened in other markets."

House went on to explain that when Sony was "evangelizing" the PS4 on the road to release, the company was experiencing a "tougher sell" with Japanese publishers and developers.

"There was a comfort level around PS3 that was playing into that," he said. "There was a slight level of concern around the viability of the console market in Japan."

Another reason the PS4 is struggling somewhat in Japan could come down to something outside of Sony's immediate control: the nature of entertainment streaming services in Japan. Simply put, streaming services are not as popular in Japan, House said, which removes a secondary reason to buy a PS4. "If you look at the Japanese market, for a variety of reasons, you have not seen a dominant player in streaming services happen," House said. "You see an inherent conservatism around film and TV content holders that doesn't allow for the rise of these brand new services. I think that's another factor."

"We'll see over time great games coming from Japanese publishers and developers. That's point number one. Point number two, which is hampering us a little bit, is for a variety of other structural reasons around the entertainment industry in Japan, we're not seeing that secondary usage," he added. "Those two are colluding together."

But it's not all bleak. Japanese developers' apprehension for creating PS4 games has lessened of late, House said. "We've really turned a corner on that and demonstrated that if you're a publisher that wants to reach a global market with good and immersive games then the PS4 is definitely the place to be."

Eurogamer also spoke with PS4 lead system architect Mark Cerny, who said you'll likely see the PS4's fortunes in Japan improve as time goes on. "It's because the products are not there to compel the people to buy the console," he said about why the PS4 has not been an instant hit in Japan. "We'll have a much better read on that a year or two after the Japanese publishers start releasing those interesting titles."

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuch
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

Discussion

150 comments
Horndawgie
Horndawgie

Consoles are dying in Japan. Japanese tastes and popular culture goes in cycles, much more pronounced than any other country. I believe the attitude about gaming is that there is really nothing new, it's the same old JRPG, Mario, Pokemon. Sony needs to come up with something entirely new to set a new trend. Nintendo as well.

SSJMonkey
SSJMonkey

When Metal Gear Solid 4 is released they'll sell like 2 million PS4's in a month. Then you've got FFXV and Kingdom Hearts3. 

Despite all 3 of these being multi platform, no one in Japan will be playing these on anything except a Playstation.

xwulfd
xwulfd

Announce a super robot wars on ps4 and you can see the ps4 pre order skyrocket in japan

Nepti
Nepti

So far, both systems are walking the same path as Wii U... a few good games up front (if you like FPS which I don't so much) and then quite a looonnngggg draught of anything to get excited about. Like the Wii U, I'm waiting for a game I can't live without to buy Xbox One or PS4. So far, there's no reason to buy either one.

deadpen
deadpen

The press release from sony should have just went

"cause we have no games for the ps4 you can't get on the ps3, and since the next gen system's performance leap was more of a drunken stumble from last gen we pretty much expected it."

jenovaschilld
jenovaschilld

few things of note: the ps4 architecture and toolsets, devkits are more designed for western game development. Coding to programs are not the same as they were for ps3 - so not only is there a stronger learning curve but it is similar to what happened last gen. As Asian game development started to die, western game developers took off, and the ps3 was one of the hardest consoles to develop for. So it is going to be slow for capcom, squaresoft, to get some good games out. 

Another thing I wonder, with Japan's broadband having set standards and some of the best ping time, latency around - I would think that cloud gaming, and media streaming would be bee's knees. But again I doubt the Japanese could give a rice ball about streaming services they want games - after all they didn't plop down money to watch Inuyasha reruns on the ps4. 

abcdefgabcdefgz
abcdefgabcdefgz

Just give us some good games that arent fps. What happened to variety and originality. Where are all the rpgs?

abcdefgabcdefgz
abcdefgabcdefgz

pretty easy just make a new dragon quest and they will buy it. So would I

derekscorp
derekscorp

I think that the Japanese see that there just isn't much compelling content on PS4 or Xbox One, without much on the near horizon. They're more cautious about buying systems, and wait until there's games out before they buy a system. It's too bad that the gaming "journalism" industry ripped the WiiU for this very same issue, yet give the PS4/XboxOne a free pass.

ijackoffpaper1
ijackoffpaper1

Oh c`mon Sony, pick it up, I know this gen just began, and you guys have been doing wonderful elsewhere, but regardless you can still do better than this, so do so.

megakick
megakick

Why be an early adopter when PS3 as more games and is still going strong.

KAGUYA-ORBIT
KAGUYA-ORBIT

Japan waits to play the system first. If you don't play the system first, how would you make a good game for it? 

fgjnfgh
fgjnfgh

Once FF game or Level 5's execlusive game come out, then it's going to explode there

PlatinumPaladin
PlatinumPaladin

Wasn't this the whole reason they delayed the Japanese release in the first place? Got to admit that House's comment about  the viability of console gaming is very interesting, but then Japan has always had 'unique' tastes with regards gaming.

pops4657
pops4657

Ps4 is doing poorly because they are waiting on xbox one.True innovation and way more features than the bore station.

leeko_link
leeko_link

The first year proves nothing, I'm sure once games like the almost vaporware Final Fantasy Versus XIII which is now pretending to be Final Fantasy XV and the once rumor but now official Kingdom Hearts 3 hits store shelves, PS4 sales will improve. Also we all know that Hideo Kojima will always gonna make a new Metal Gear Solid sequel and Sega is pumping Yakuza games like crazy over there so if those got PS4 release then the platform sale over there will get better with time, it just won't be in 2014 that's all.

metallinatus
metallinatus

And how do Sony tries to fix that? Selling a custom PS4 based on a childish American movie!

Now please, anime games publishers, stop blowing on Sony and start releasing more anime games on Nintendo platforms too!

sakaixx
sakaixx

sony been selling ps4 of half a year in japan now but I haven't seen a japanese game other than the dynasty musou/warrrior and yakuza game which is one somewhere early in the system period and the latter is on the system launch. selling that much without a single JRPG is actually respectable. but still poor by playstation standard.

JoSilver
JoSilver

You guys really want to know the reason for this... 3DS, handhelds are way bigger in Japan then consoles... And the 3DS prints money... Which is promptly eat by the Wii U... Which is outselling the PS4 as well.

quicktim3
quicktim3

plot twist, microsoft buys capcom then goes on to release a monster hunter game exclusive to XBO and ends up dominating japan this generation. 

svaubel
svaubel

Is Sony so out of touch that they dont know that you need RPGs or Monster Hunter to succeed?

BradBurns
BradBurns

It's not confusing at all. You can't sell a game system in Japan without Japanese-developed games. 

It's quite simple, really. Crank out some games with your Japan Studio and get some 3rd party titles out or pull the plug on the PS4 in Japan.

samnator123
samnator123

I'm thinking that titles like FFXV and KH3 should definitely dramatically boost sales. Though not even just for Japan- but for the West as well. I know that I plan to get a PS4 when one of those titles release.

blueinheaven
blueinheaven

Actually it just says to me that the Japanese aren't impulse buyers. If you think about it there are precious few reasons to buy a PS4 OR an Xbox One no matter where you live in the world. The games just aren't there, not just Japanese influenced titles.


I'm really happy they have released in Japan it gives me hope we'll see some really great JRPG's to capitalise on that base. God I sounded like a marketing person just then, someone shoot me ffs....

blackace
blackace

Well, at least we know now why Sony didn't launch the PS4 in Japan right away. They have absolutely nothing that appeals to the Japanese gamer. Sony tells us they had a hard time getting developers/publishers to move from the PS3 to the PS4. Well, I can't say I blame them. You want a market of 15-16 million gamers to buy your games or 620K? Developers are waiting for the system to sell 2-3 million in Japan before they develope and release a game on the system. The same thing will happen with the XB1 as well. I'm still curious to see how things go in China.

divinejester
divinejester

I like how people are taking this as a shot at Sony. How many Wii U have sold in Japan? How do you think the One will do? This is not really about Sony, but more about the Japanese console market.


Honestly Japan has a very different taste for games. Like others have said as soon as some of those JRPGs start launching, Final Fantasy, Tales, etc. PS4 will probably rebound somewhat.

Guest1001
Guest1001

Incidentally, Sony, this is why I don't own a PS4 yet. Make a gaming console and not a half-arsed PC with Netflix attached (and the same goes for the XBox One). Even the games that the PS4 does have are a mix of F2P, indies and range of bland AAAs with a ton of DLC (and there's more to come).

Take a look at the range of Japanese games on offer from the last two console generations compared to the PS1 and PS2, especially the PS2 launch titles. It seems to me that Sony jumped ship, abandoning fun, deep games with "cool", "edgy" and "realistic" games as soon as MS marketed the XBox in that manner (in the same way that 90s comic books and their gritty anti-heroes were "cool" and "edgy" ... in other words, boring). Keiji Inafune was right when he said "gaming is dead" although he said it about Japanese games, which I couldn't disagree with more. Western gaming is so creatively dry that it feels like I only ever see the same ten games and their sequels receive news stories here on Gamespot (and by the way, game journalists, this generation can we actually see a Japanese game receive some attention? Last generation, I can only recall MGS and Ni No Kuni receiving the "high honour" of being mentioned alongside our beloved Western games.)

I read a comment recently that said Sony should've done what Nintendo did; stick with their first-party characters back in the PS1 days and never get rid of them. Hard to disagree with that.

adsparky
adsparky

Japanese tend to buy consoles the week the game they want is released, and I don't see any appealing game coming soon, maybe that from software game.

fede018
fede018

Damn, the PS4 is a flop in its home country. That's worse than Brazil taking a beating in the World Cup

golden1elite
golden1elite

It needs better games...  To me it feels like Sony pumped the console out the door almost a year early, catching the developers and MS off guard.  If we start to see better games coming out this year then we will know they did just that.

rasterror
rasterror

Home console gaming is almost dead in Japan. If it's not mobile then it's not selling.

Megavideogamer
Megavideogamer

Eventually the Playstation 4 will really catch on with the Japanese people just the right types of games.

dannydopamine8
dannydopamine8

@SSJMonkey thats racist!! How about super smash brothers and tekken also?? Japanese people enjoy other games as well

jenovaschilld
jenovaschilld

@Nepti I have seen many console releases, all the way back for the snes. The pattern stays pretty constant, few decent games with release then the long aught till next fall, then the best new IP coming 2nd and 3rd year after. So far there are a pretty good lot of titles for 8th gen and many of them really good, with just a few mediocre titles. 

The wii u I do not consider 8th gen as you cannot release 7th gen specs a year earlier and call it 8th gen. I would not call the neogaf 7th or 8th gen just because it came out around a certain year.   

TroyTrojanGamer
TroyTrojanGamer

@abcdefgabcdefgz Why can't a FPS also be an RPG?  I love slash and hack games but the truth is no sword game has ever had realistic sword play.  Games with guns make for a more realistic and fun experience for most people.

scottabc
scottabc

@pops4657 Right, I think theres about 12 people waiting for that 'killer' Kinect game that is surely coming someday. But if you read the article you'd see that fewer people in Japan actually care about most of the non-gaming services for either the XB1 or the PS4. PS4 will get Japanese games but the XB1 wont for the most part and the XB1 will be far behind just as the 360 was.

maitkarro
maitkarro

@pops4657 Xbox 360 is the least owned last gen system in Japan. They don't care about meaningless features, they want they're japanese games as so do I. Right now ps3 and vita is booming with japanese games and they still will be coming out for 'em in the next year, even onto psp in japan some games come out.

scottabc
scottabc

@kaboochimonky Prepare to be very disappointed. XB1 has all the same weaknesses as PS4 (less interest in streaming for example) from the perspective of the Japanese market with little hope of getting high quality games that focus on that market, which the PS4 will certainly have eventually.

skiggy34
skiggy34

@BradBurns They can't they are broke.... Why do you think the CEO is promoting indies so damn much when Sony is known for its 1st party titles...  You need money to make million dollar games....

skiggy34
skiggy34

@Guest1001 I absolutely agree with you!!  People argue over the ps3 having better exclusives than xbox 360 a lot when neither of them had the games of PS1/PS2 and hell even original xbox.  There are a lot of quality series that are gone. Shoot you would think someone would rehash the Legacy of Kain Series. Jade Empire etc etc....  The fact is Sony isn't half of what it used to be back in the ps2 days, its not!  PS3 games dont compare to ps2 games. Screw graphics, I'll still take the ps2 era over the ps3 era any day!!

orangesonic
orangesonic

@adsparky  i live in japan... and that is true... im waiting to buy because that is no software i wanna play too LOL

svaubel
svaubel

@golden1elite All three current systems could have delayed their launches by a year and come out much better out of the gate.

Nepti
Nepti

@jenovaschilld I agree with the pattern you describe as I've been around a long time with my first gaming console the original Magnavox Odyssey back in the early 1970s. For me, it's that FPS games are the 'big hit' for the younger crowd. I like FPS games too, but after the last 12 or so years of FPS-everything I'm a bit burnt out on them. For Xbox One and PS4, I'm waiting for some interesting titles that aren't FPS necessarily.

jasspur
jasspur

@TroyTrojanGamer @abcdefgabcdefgz We don't really wan't realistic swordplay, we wan't fun and a strong story. I think there are already enough shooters to just focus on pure RPGs. You can't get a lot of special moves on guns. There is no fast pace battle, just invisible bullets and things dying. If they focused on realistic gun combat, there could be no bosses for story either. One shot is almost a guaranteed kill; even if it is in the leg. Shooters actually have less animation in attacks than melee weapons.

skiggy34
skiggy34

@scottabc There was a MS article months ago that stated MS is actually very focused on Jrpgs and some are supposed to launch with the console in September.  I guess we will see if that actually happens.  I thought Nintendo had Japan on lockdown. People already have their vision on what the ps4 is over there.  Its going to take more than one game to get them to buy it.  Guess we will see..  Also, I doubt many people who own Xbox One care about a kinect game.  I like the features it does and could care less if a kinect game ever came out...

scottabc
scottabc

@skiggy34 @scottabc Ok I'll take your word on the XB1 JRPG's and stand corrected. I still think Microsoft has a very steep hill to climb, particularly in Japan but if they're focusing on supporting new games then good luck to them.

KabtheMentat
KabtheMentat

@megakick 

Lot of good that's done them during their 20 year recession.

The problem is that Japanese devs simply can't afford to make PS4 and Xbox One games.  1) They are expensive to develop.  2) Japanese games don't particularly sell well, even in Japan.  3) Console gaming is more or less dead in Japan.


Know why you got a glut of niche as hell JRPGs and other Japanese games late in the PS3's life?  Because it became affordable to develop for it finally.  That'll happen with the PS4 and Xbox One as well.  The fact is the gaming industry in Japan is dying.  It's pretty bleak, with a few rare exceptions.  Japan used to make up over 50% of worldwide game sales about 10 years ago.  Now it's under 10% and still shrinking.


Despite what a lot of weebs think, Japan isn't this high tech gaming wonder land.  It's backwards as hell in a lot of ways, particularly when it comes to innovative technology and business.