WSJ: Wii, DS 'vulnerable' in Japan's shrinking game market

The </i>Wall Street Journal</i> says hardcore game sales, PS3-PSP tag team are endangering Nintendo in its home country, where annual game sales are down 18 percent.

Following the revelation that Japanese Wii sales declined 63 percent in March, even Nintendo president Satoru Iwata is expressing concern. "The Japanese market is not very strong right now overall," he told the Wall Street Journal in an interview. "So we need to do something to re-energize it." For the year ended March 31, Japanese game sales were down 18 percent--a stark contrast to the US, where game sales rose 19 percent during the 2008 calendar year.

The Japanese PS3 Biohazard 5 bundle.

Iwata's attempts at deflection couldn't obscure the fact that the PlayStation 3 outsold the Wii last month in Japan, 146,948 units to 99,335 units, according to Famitsu publisher Enterbrain. The island nation also saw two third-party PS3 games--Sega's Ryu Ga Gotoku 3 (aka Yakuza 3) and Capcom's Biohazard 5 (aka Resident Evil 5)--outsell Wii Fit, the month's top single SKU in the US. Biohazard 5 may have also boosted PS3 hardware sales courtesy of a Japan-only bundle featuring the game, an 80GB PS3, and two DualShock 3 controllers (pictured).

The PS3's March victory comes several months after Sony's portable, the PSP, outsold the DS for several weeks thanks to sales of the popular Monster Hunter Freedom Unite, due out in the US this June. While Nintendo has retaken the handheld front with the DSi, Japanese analysts are worried that slowing sales of Wii and DS hardware and software could augur similar declines across the globe.

"The usual idea is that whatever you see happening in Japan, you tend to see overseas two to three years later," KBC Securities' Hiroshi Kamide told WSJ correspondent Daisuke Wakabayashi. So far, though, that trend hasn't hit the US. In March, the Wii's 753,000-unit domestic haul crushed the PS3's 276,000-unit total.

After calling Nintendo "vulnerable" in its home market, Wakabayashi also got some anecdotal evidence by speaking with a 43-year-old Tokyo housewife, who said her two boys have grown weary of playing Wii games and are now asking for a PSP--but not a PS3. "Maybe the Wii's software, designed for families, is not as exciting," she pondered.

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179 comments
zbiggie
zbiggie

well it was bound to happen, but I wonder why it is happening just when the Japanese markets have crashed so hard due to the world wide recession

YuuriX
YuuriX

Yeah PS3 wasn't been a good start before but this year is more popular and also the new upcoming games. I think PSP is more popular than DS, DS only has large library of games but 30-60 % of them are boring...

KhanhAgE
KhanhAgE

The reason why the 43-year-old housewife's two boys are asking for a PSP is because they want to play Monster Hunter 2nd Generation! Apparently if you're a kid in Japan and don't own Monster Hunter you suck (big time!).

flameducky
flameducky

*Sniffs air* I think I smell the Playstation 3 getting ready to following in the footsteps of the PS1 and PS2 by overtaking the market. Especially after a slow start. And the PS3's 2009 lineup will probably throw a monkey wrench in here and there around the US.

Malco_Vincenzo
Malco_Vincenzo

@Blue-N-Yellow "they have a lot of good games on the horizon and they're still selling like hotcakes at their launch price" hmmm good games on the horizon. usually a horizion is really for away, and there is a bit a a mirage effect. the wii has had "good games" come from a long wait only to become a mirage a mediocrity. and as for the launch price, I dunno about you but here in Canada they've been selling at $30 less than that for half a year bucko.(wii came out at $299.99, it's now $279.99. now you know) also when the hell was the last time anyone bought a hot cake?

marcosa73
marcosa73

"Maybe the Wii's software, designed for families, is not as exciting," she pondered. I completely agree here, my family and I havn't been interested in Wii a whole lot just a few months after getting one. That was 1 1/2 years ago.

Mr_Versipellis
Mr_Versipellis

An incentive for Ninty to make better games! Yay!

nappan
nappan

This isn't exaxctly a surprise. My main reaction is: "good, the Wall Street Journal takes the gaming industry seriously". The rest... is pretty much just a result of the strategies each company used. This was bound to happen, and only comes as a surprise to fanboys who expected more than they were promised by whatever company they worshiped. ;)

DanOwns1207
DanOwns1207

I am very glad to hear this. I do not mean to bash the Wii, but this will be a good wakeup call to Nintendo, who has not made many great or even decent games lately. I was one of the people who heard about the Wii and understood it was not as powerful as the Xbox 360 or PS3 but preordered one anyway, one the premise of its potential and Nintendo's history of making great games. A month after the Wii's launched, I had one and was dying to play the games Metroid Prime 3 and Super Smash Bros Brawl. However, Metroid Prime 3 was a big letdown to me and Super Smash Bros Brawl and Super Mario Galaxy were great, but sadly they were not worth to me the $250 I paid for it. Awhile ago, I purchased an Xbox 360 and have been much more satisfied with its "hardcore" games. I have not even touched my Wii since my Xbox returned from the Red Rings of Death (yes, no system is perfect and the Xbox does indeed have flaws). But anyways, hopefully Nintendo will revert to its legacy of great games.

ChristerDoo
ChristerDoo

I'm sorry - any company which releases 'Gardening Mama', 'Cooking Mama' . . .... ROFL LOLOL. How can you take that seriously? :D With Wii - how many kiddy sports games - all the same - can people buy? Real games for real gamers, pleeeze. Nintendo is squandering an opportunity to rise in the ranks by ignoring and thereby alienating core gamers. They need to stop trying so hard to pander to the tween and under sector if they want to be taken seriously in the console market. What works for the DS will not work in your basement on a 50 inch TV. Too bad. I am not bashing them - just expressing my regret that they are losing their chance to remain / become relevant to a huge core gaming community outside of Japan by refusing to release games which will attract those gamers.

KieranCottrell
KieranCottrell

@thekey: Wasn't Excite Truck a release game? Launch titles always suck compared to a few years in.

mariokart64fan
mariokart64fan

you didnt know nothing, never well , wii is far from a gimmick .. . go play ngage then come back , because thats as far as a gimmick can get - take a battery out to remove a game looks like a taco when using it as a phone who the heck made that thin g must be on somthing , , its pretty sad people call the most successful -3rd to ps1 ps2 console a gimmick last i checked wii sales are through the roof else where only japan is slowing because so small markets , at rough times

Rottenwood
Rottenwood

@tyzwain The 360 is currently in 19th place in Japan, behind the Wii, PS3, Sega Saturn, Atari Jaguar, and those little Tiger handhelds that play one game with five animation frames.

pandastew
pandastew

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

tyzwain
tyzwain

Lol, what about xbox? A GS article that doesn't mention the 360, rarity indeed.

mastodonfatguy
mastodonfatguy

i knew it i knew it~ the wii is such a gimick of a system. i got one the month after it came out expecting some amazing god of a system that would make me never play mah 360 again.(not really) and look . its collecting dust i never play it and i just gave it to my brother. sure the wii WAS a success but there arent enough good games to back it up. if u think about it there are like 9 good games made for it right? and 2 may be from a 3rd party but the others are all in house nintendo games. they cant keep expecting that to work. sigh... its a good thing that they have a backup system just in case

thekey
thekey

Thats is halarious. How are you going to be the president of a company and admit that lowering the price of your product isn't going to drive sales? (Being that in this case he was saying they need games) But even still if your product has leading market share, how are you going to admit that slashing the price of it isn't going to help it? That just shows how much confidence the leader if Nintendo in Japan has on the Wii. My confidence in the Wii has been shattered since I played excite truck.

thekey
thekey

This is very good news, And the way it should be. The PS3 is the ultimate videogame console.

ratm247
ratm247

wii is a great system, but they are reliant on the gimmick of motion controls, and they havent had a solid game come out for a year now. wii fit is the only thing thats the wii has been used for in a long time. we need a new zelda, metroid, mario, or starfox title soon. if nintendo doesnt impress me at e3 i think im going to sell my wii while everyone still thinks theyre good.

chyng85
chyng85

I'm on PS3 side, my dream console!

green_dominator
green_dominator

Wii is an ok system but its too much a gimick, PS3, PSP, 360 Even DS &DSi rule the day here.... there are a few really good games on Wii but mostly they fall flat like Farcry and Red Steel did but Nintendo properties do quite well like Mario Galaxy and Zelda........

JackHoleFace00
JackHoleFace00

@Blue-N-Yellow Typical response. Throw out a bunch of random games thinking there's a cogent argument, even though you're just reinforcing mine. MadWorld got a 7.5 on this very site. Rune Factory got an aggregate 79%. Conduit and other games you mentioned aren't even out yet ("New Dragon Quest"? "New Zelda"? Are those the official names? Have you even seen a screenshot? Know the release date?? Didn't think so). Muramasa? Never heard of it and don't care. The new RE is just RE: UC 2--a rail shooter. Same for Dead Space. Real innovative. I'd rather play their superior counterparts on other systems that were already released, and apparently other people are starting to as well (like the RE: 5 bundle in this article). Note, I didn't say every game was trash, but most are, and over the last year, the best games have been mediocre. And for every mediocre game that comes out or is coming out for Wii (like all the ones you just named), there's a AAA title for the 360 or PS3. I'd rather play a game like KZ 2, MAG, God of War 3, or SFIV over "Monster Hunter Tri" any day. Plus I got news for you: the new Pikmin is just a rehashed GameCube port with motion controls (look it up)! There's no arguing that the Wii's still killing other systems in US sales, but this could signal that it's losing steam and people are finally starting to see that it's just a fad (and Nintendo's president knows this--read the other articles). And I'm just saying if it does lose steam, it deserves it for a poor overall library of games. Of course the Wii Sports Resort is coming out soon, so there will be another sales surge from soccer moms and grandpas, and Nintendo will be content resting on their laurels again, so who cares, right?

Hoski0999
Hoski0999

I'm honestly not surprised by this. With the lack of hardcore games on the Wii and the DS and all of them going to Sony and Microsoft. True there are good RPG's on the DS and a few good hardcore games on the Wii, but i see too many games being pumped out for the two systems just to get more games on the market, that the hardcore gamer is getting left behind. It's just what i see in my opinion, i could be wrong.

Ameotoko
Ameotoko

Sony seems to be notorious for having low initial sales and a huge second wind. I'm not surprised that they're starting to pick up speed now. Go Sony go! For all the bashing that's going on, you've got to commend Nintendo as a business; they did a great job. Just because you don't particularly like the games (and I don't particularly like them myself), you've gotta admit Ninty did everything right this round. As long as nobody goes under, I'm happy.

Blue-N-Yellow
Blue-N-Yellow

@JackHoleFace00 "Finally, please don't say "but there's Mario Galaxy! Twilight Princess!" Those games are years old. Where are the new quality games? The only glimmer of hope is Punch Out!" Right, because Madworld, Rune Factory, The Conduit, Little King's Story, Monster Hunter Tri, Muramasa, Arc Rise Fantasia, No More Heroes 2, New Tales, New FF:CC, New Dragon Quest, New Resident Evil and New Dead Space are/will be utter garbage. That isn't even including Punch-Out (your 'glimmer of hope'), or any possible Zelda/Pikmin titles that are likely in the works. Wii doesn't need any glimmer of hope, they have a lot of good games on the horizon and they're still selling like hotcakes at their launch price

dark_k
dark_k

This is the wake-up slap Nintendo needed, they have got so much to offer their customers (first party franchises), and so much more to gain now that they've got the consumers attention. Enough with the remakes, enough with the heavy casual titles because in the end too much of the casual makes the system look weak. I mean come on rock-climbing at GDC, when was the last time we saw a home-console fzero title, or new Donkey Kong game?!?!

Geostrike
Geostrike

I'm happy for Sony, I haven't really played anything else but my PS3 for the past couple months and recently I've been playing more and more PSP games as they come out. Its nice to see Sony get some recognition. The recent Wii titles seemed kinda bland to me, but I'm not going to lie there are some DS games I would like to pick up.

joshuahaveron
joshuahaveron

Hardcore gamers, like on the PS3 will still buy games in tough economic times, but where the wii is aimed at casual gamers, to them games don't really matter so they will be the first things off of the shopping list when money is scarce.

Rev8691
Rev8691

all Nintendo has to do is go back to its SNES and N64 days, give us a new Donkey Kong adventure, a new Star Fox, a Zelda, a Wave Race wouldnt hurt, try to get the rights for a new Megaman again (my greatest Megaman memories come with Megaman X for the SNES), bring back all games like Sunset Riders, revive the fighting genre on Nintendo platforms (i used to play all my fighting games, like Street Fighter, back on Nintendo), an obvious would be a new Mario game, a Super Smash Bros, and many many more. The Nintedo library of games in its whole history is filled with amazing games. Almost everything great came from Nintendo, they were the ruling console company. There have so many great games and options to pick from, but yet they come out with more and more casual nonsense. There is nothing wrong with mixing casual with hardcore, it's just a matter of doing it. And realistically, it's not like Nintendo doesnt have the options to pick from. I grew up with Nintendo and it is kind of sad to see them going down this route. I never owned a Sega console as i was strictly Nintendo, but i was sad to see them go too. We are talking about the originals people behind the passtime we love so much here. Microsoft is new to the game, and I honestly dont respect them. Nintendo had me until the launch of the Gamecube and i moved to the PS2. Now i (own all three current gen consoles) and find myself playing the ps3 the most, then the Wii, and then the 360 because i dont respect the shortcuts they made. My fondest memories gaming as a kid come from the SNES and the N64, Nintedo has lost its ways with its last to consoles, and its time they bring back to gold they possess. Though i always thought the gamecube was awsome looking.

FoxExecutive
FoxExecutive

Let's face it. Nintendo has been crushing the competition due to the increase in its casual market. Everyone and their mother seem to be buying Wii Fit. But the demand is only so much and eventually a game like "Biohazard 5" is going to come along and sell some systems to a market that has been waiting on its release for a long time. Will this trend continue? Possibly, but if Nintendo announces a new big name title it will probably boost sales for that month as well. It's just the nature of the business.

JackHoleFace00
JackHoleFace00

PS, SCEA could use a tip here from SCEJ--that is, get people excited to buy the freakin' system! They also need to package the PS3 with a hot new game/extra controller. Why not a RE 5 or KZ 2 theme pack with an extra controller? Last I heard the limited edition MGS4 one sold really well, and they haven't done any of that since (NOTE: I saw a bundle that included Resistence 1 and MotorStorm, but haven't seen a single ad, promo, or any press about it!). Whoever's the head of SCEA marketing deserves to be canned

omnislash_13
omnislash_13

Surely this is just that everyone has bought a Wii now? You can't sell indefinitely or sooner or later everyone on earth will own one. The Wii has been number one from the get go and as far as I know didn't slow. Meanwhile the PS3 has sold less so now everyone who wants a Wii has one, they're starting to get PS3's too.

skullboy950
skullboy950

Nothing will stand a chance against the Wii. Even if most people (like me) hate all of its stupid minigame/casual/shovelware garbage. At least Sega is putting up a good effort to redeem the Wii, and there's also the hidden gems and Nintendo published games released before May 2008 (excluding Animal Crossing).

dark-zazo
dark-zazo

@ promano3 I'm sorry if my grammar is bad, but english is not my first language and saying that someone is stupid cause he can't spell one word right is rather ignorant of you. But I'm sure you can make full arguments in other languages without any errors. I do know that everyone has their own opinions, and I know people think differently than me, but refusing to see your point of view is not tragic. This is console wars, what we think about stuff is very subjective. We’re not talking about politics or religion here, this is not something important that you have to think deeply about it, you either chose a side based on your PERSONAL preferences or you become neutral. When I say PS3 and X360 games are better, I take in consideration what the majority of gamers like. I know Animal Crossing can be fun for some, but the majority of gamers don't find it appealing. I'm not trying to convince anyone, I'm trying to say what I think, if you don't like it, give me a thumbs down, but don’'t go saying I'm stupid cause I don't speak english and I refuse to accept that the Wii is a good console, that's very fanboish of you…

JackHoleFace00
JackHoleFace00

@ Malco_Vincenzo Do you mean quality sequels that people want to play? Or just sheer number, even if they get really old, really fast, and are even more incredibly dull if you play on your own? If it's the latter, I'd say Mario Party

JackHoleFace00
JackHoleFace00

Sounds like the Wii's old technology and severe lack of great (and I mean great, not mediocre like HotD) games is finally starting to take its toll on sales. Also, I don't buy the argument that people already have Wiis and that's why it's slowing down. Even if that was true, that doesn't explain why PS3 is INCREASING in sales, because most people only buy one system and stick with it. Therefore it seems people are getting over wiggling controllers and bad graphics, and instead choosing better games. Finally, please don't say "but there's Mario Galaxy! Twilight Princess!" Those games are years old. Where are the new quality games? The only glimmer of hope is Punch Out!, but how deep is that, and how long is that supposed to quench the thirst for good games?

FrontLinePlaya
FrontLinePlaya

in my opinion the wii is more of a fad than a console excluding the few decent games they have "emphemsis on few" the rest are a joke. You have games like wii fit, cooking mama, hello kity island adventure 3 and games that focus on you taking care of animals. which I dont even consider games. then all the decent games they have are old as time and have been milked to the bone. like mario galaxy was a joke compared to the good classic mario games that actually made sense.

Malco_Vincenzo
Malco_Vincenzo

which series will have more sequels? Nintendo's Mario Party or Final Fantasy

promano3
promano3

Hey dark-zazo, if you're gonna try for making a good argument for fanboys, you should know the difference between weather and whether. I really hate when people try to sound smart and end up looking stupid like that. Usually neutral people bash fanboys because they don't make any sense and don't consider the whole picture when comparing consoles. You are a prime example of this because you refuse to think that people think differently than you and that your way of thought is the only way to think. For example, "It surprises me very much to see people owning a console which has silly games and makes you look like a retard while playing it." Well that's because not everyone is interested in Mature games from Sony. Everyone is different and has different preferences. Therefore, fanboys arguing that there console is superior should argue to a certain point that is undeniable, such as technological. PS3 and 360 is obviously higher in performance and such to the Wii. There, argument won. Saying that they have "better games" is not a good argument, though. Everyone prefers different kinds of games, so why argue towards your particular kinds of games? People are too stubborn to be convinced otherwise and should stick to their own stuff instead of trying to convince others that their preferences are better.

Sepewrath
Sepewrath

@ Rottenwood Yeah Sony has always been reliant on 3rd parties but those days are over. 3rd parties only hold alligiance to the almigh dollar, and they go wherever there is money to be made. Sony's new approach seems to be seperating themselves via thier 1st party and 2nd party development. They aren't on Nintendo's level yet but with games like Uncharted, Heavenly Sword and God of War; they are beginning to carve out an identity free of 3rd party reliance. That appears to be their new angle

dark-zazo
dark-zazo

I don't understand why being a fanboy is such a bad thing. It's fun to argue about stuff and you actually choose a position. I'm a PS3 fanboy. I love it. It's like being a republican or a democrat. Plus the console wars would be really dull if we didn't have fanboys. I really hate those idiots who behave as if they were superiors to fanboys, say that they’re neutral, but they’re actually hidden fanboys (which most of the time end up being xbots). As for the topic, the news is clearly good for SONY, but it's irrelevant in the long run, cause it's just one frickin' month. Is the Wii crap? Of course it is. It surprises me very much to see people owning a console which has silly games and makes you look like a retard while playing it. I seriously don’t like Mario, I did back in the '90, but games evolve and Mario hasn’t. Zelda has the same story over and over again and is somehow shallow, and I'd rather enjoy Final Fantasy. Metroid is fun, but Nintendo seems to ignore it and instead focuses itself on Wii Fit, a game made for fat people who think running outside in fresh air and going to the gym is silly. And I'd have to add that it's pathetic for a hardcore gamer to own a Wii. What the f were they thinking? Guess they didn't know better when the console debuted. But seeing the game lineup the Wii has now, I bet they're really enjoying playing games aimed at prepubescent girls and single mothers. As for the Xbox, I have the outmost respect for Microsoft and how they managed to steal Sony fans. That takes a lot of effort and the 360 is indeed a very good console. Arguing weather owning a PS3 or an X360 is a matter of preferences and games, but arguing weather owning a real next gen console or a Wii... is just plain stupid.

Bennettfoam
Bennettfoam

Great news! I don't like the idea of jumping and dancing in front of TV! :)

Rottenwood
Rottenwood

@Sepewrath Easier said than done to be sure, but what choice does Sony have? The 360 has them rather boxed in. Other than a handful of noteworthy exclusives, they share the same software, and the 360 (for now, at least) offers superior on-line service and, until recently, the surprisingly popular Achievement system. Most importantly, it's cheaper. Sony's just fortunate that the 360's reputation for breaking down helped stall its momentum to some degree. Sony built its gaming kingdom on M-rated games and monster exclusives. Resident Evil, Grand Theft Auto, etc. Now that Microsoft has their mitts on all of 'em (except, notably, Metal Gear), Sony's gotta find a new angle.

LindBergh2007
LindBergh2007

Kaneada. Most of what you're saying is true. But I believe its more about the fact that Wii is a novelty more then a console and that Japanese and thier strange tatse in gaming plays a rule in what sells a console. The Japanese are not like Americans, they don't live on fads, they buy a console if the games are hardcore arcade ports,Dating Sims and RPG and games like SEGA's Yazuka 3(which actaully helped jumpstart PS3 sales) and thier upcoming RPG End of Eternity helped sell machines in Japan. I don't see this news as meaning that PS3 will finally start catching up in the west,I think people will continue to buy Wii-fit. but I do see this as sign that the console will do better in Japan. But remember the rumored Sega RingEdge(trademarked as a game machine in the U.S. and Europe and Japanese arcade board) and RingWide( a possible Japanese development kit) may be a strong competitve machine if SEGA attracts alot of third party publishers and designs a system that cuts down development costs and is able to easily port arcade games to thier console. Don't get me wrong, the PS3 is a good system and is a far better machine then Wii, but it has it's flaws and production costs and the costs of making games for it are one of the main problems with it. But that doesn't mean I'm bashing it. Nintendo really needs to go back to the drawing board. This Wii-fit Wii-sports nonsense isn't going to hold water in Japan. The more they disinfranchise thier base, the more Nintendo will lose thier momentum. The 360 is probably going to always have trouble in Japan because it's western. But that doesn't mean it doesn't have any good Japanese games.

akiyuki
akiyuki

@ mariokart64fan I think you've missed the point that blueblur was trying to make. There's tons of shovelware being produced for the wii and nintendo is making its share of fast and cheap, low quality titles when they should be focusing on their original market (which is the one that's currently the most hesitant to purchase the system, btw. Assuming you subtract all the nintendo fanboys) and bringing the quality back into their first party titles. Come on, wii music? Nintendo actually thinks this is a quality first party title worth $50, seriously?

KickinIt_ftw
KickinIt_ftw

@brendanhunt1: Posted Apr 9, 2009 11:27 am PT "is it that nintendo is falling or is it that sony is rising" Neither. It's that pretty much everyone already has a Wii and DS.

mariokart64fan
mariokart64fan

@blueblur how many mario titles do you want nintendo has other games coming japan may be slowing but when you look at sales elsewhere, they certainly are not, sure some people like me see tons of wiis onshelfs that only means nintendo has finally came out of their shortage thats good just in case my other one breaks lol, its inevental , punchout excitebots metroid 1 and 2 are coming from nintendo (funny how you claim they stopped it, i do not see any guarantees in sonys line up besides gt5 and gow3 are the only 1s on ps3 announced that im really gonna enjoy mag? encharted 2 ? people keep insisting mag will be a must have even though no ones actually played a mag game before lol and dont get me going on yakuza, i played the first one on gc , wreckless , the yakuza missions, that game is so boring, it shouldnt have revieved yakuza 2 and 3 lol its just one of those games you hope no one buys u for your birthday drive in a car how fun its like top gear daredevel , that being said we all have different taste in games(thank god) then japan ,

brendanhunt1
brendanhunt1

is it that nintendo is falling or is it that sony is rising

Rottenwood
Rottenwood

@blueblur87 Wii Fit has sold 14 million copies so far, and remains a top seller, generating over a billion dollars in revenue. I doubt Nintendo regrets the decision to put it on the front burner over Yet Another Smash Bros.