Wii U Outsells PlayStation 4 in Japan

In Japan, PlayStation 4 looks to have a bleak future ahead of it. The most recent weekly sales tracking from Media Create shows Sony's (NYSE: SNE  ) latest console being outsold by Nintendo's (NASDAQOTH: NTDOY  ) Wii U, a system that has also been a big underperformer. Making the picture even worse for Sony, this week's sales data suggests that PS4 selling worse than Wii U will become a common occurrence. Can anything save the PlayStation 4 in Japan? Is the collapse of the Japanese console gaming a sign that the broader gaming industry is in trouble?

Not the hero PlayStation 4 needed


Of all the sales data to come out of Japan after the PlayStation 4's launch, this week's numbers have to be the most disappointing for Sony. The troubled company's newest system saw the release of Infamous: Second Son, a title squarely aimed at Western tastes. It was also one that stands as one of the most high-profile games slated to hit the console this year. The game was the second best-selling piece of software for the week ending May 25, with approximately 35,000 units moved. This put it just behind World Soccer Winning Eleven 2014.

Even with the release of a major game that moved decent numbers, however, Media Create lists PS4 as selling just 7,543 units. Nintendo's Wii U sold 9,024 units for the week. Even the PlayStation 3 once again outsold the PlayStation 4—this time by approximately twenty units.

This week's numbers highlight the disappointing state of the PlayStation 4's software lineup in Japan. The release of Infamous: Second Son looks to have driven sales of the console up approximately 750 units over the previous week, a mostly negligible bump. The game sold to just about 6% of the PS4's approximately 580,000 unit Japanese user base.

Wii U gets a little boost


While PlayStation 4 looks to suffer from a lineup that will guarantee anemic Japanese sales for the rest of the year, Nintendo's Wii U will receive some of its biggest hitters. Sales of the console are already climbing in anticipation of the release of Mario Kart 8. The title won't propel the system to broader success, but it should have a visible sales impact. The August release of Hyrule Warriors should help the console preserve a sales bump and continue to outperform the PS4 in Japan.

Unfavorable comparisons
At this point in their respective lifecycles, sales of PlayStation 4 are lagging behind sales of the PlayStation 3. After its fourteenth week on the market, PS4 has sold approximately 577,000 units, while the PS3 had sold 658,000. The discrepancy is particularly notable because Sony's last console launched at an astronomically high price, while the more recent system is broadly perceived to have a more reasonable price. Also notable is the fact that PlayStation 3 looked to have stronger support from Japanese developers—not surprising given the trends that are shaping interactive entertainment in the country.

The state of console gaming in Japan is partially Sony's fault
Sony's handling of its Japanese studios deserves a fair bit of criticism. As developers have migrated to handheld and mobile platforms, the importance of first party content on consoles has skyrocketed. Unfortunately, Sony's Japanese software output since the release of PlayStation 3 is hardly deserving of commendation. Now, PS4's future looks dependent on far-off third party titles like Deep Down and a new Resident Evil from Capcom, Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain from Konami, and Kingdom Hearts 3 and Final Fantasy XV from Square Enix. Even with strong performances from these games, it now looks unlikely that PlayStation 4 will outsell its predecessor in Japan.


How do you build hardware for disparate markets?
Rumblings out of Nintendo that its next handheld and home console gaming hardware will feature similar hardware make a great deal of sense. Dedicated handhelds are rapidly losing support in Western markets, while console gaming looks to be headed for irrelevance in Japan. Building largely similar versions of the same games for release across different platforms could give Nintendo a better chance of meeting the demands of the new gaming landscape. The early success of the PS4 in Western territories and the broad failure of its PS Vita handheld make it less likely that Sony will pursue the same strategy, but the company is already laying the groundwork for a future in gaming that's not dependent on a hardware presence.

A dangerous game of predictions
Whether or not PlayStation 4 manages to scrape above the Wii U in sales is mostly irrelevant. The situation in Japan is the result of troubling variables that each platform holder must contend with. Sony and Nintendo must assess the dire situation and react as best they can while planning their next gaming platforms. The collapse of the Japanese console industry makes future hardware releases more difficult to justify, particularly as more and more devices integrate gaming functionality. 

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Read/Post Comments (12) | Recommend This Article (3)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

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  • Report this Comment On May 31, 2014, at 1:49 PM, CNewsMuses wrote:

    Mario Kart 8 is here to save the Wii U!

  • Report this Comment On May 31, 2014, at 2:44 PM, awang0718 wrote:

    It is unlikely that Sony will ever release another handheld. It is also unlikely that Sony will release any Japanese oriented games. This means Sony will pretty much abandon Japan.

    That means Nintendo will dominate Japan with their next handheld (Nintendo 4DS???).This will allow Nintendo to release western oriented 4DS games and gain western 3rd party support without negatively affecting 4DS sales in Japan, because Japanese 3rd parties will be forced to develop major blockbusters on 4DS.

    Sony's failure in Japan will unlitmately benefit Nintendo's future handheld in the long run.

    "Not the hero PlayStation 4 needed."

    No need for Dark Knight references. The PS4 needs a hero ASAP, not in 8 years.

  • Report this Comment On May 31, 2014, at 3:06 PM, NonCasualGamer wrote:

    PS4 has a hero. His name is hype.

  • Report this Comment On May 31, 2014, at 4:01 PM, awang0718 wrote:


    Hype is a hero...for a while. Then it is all about the games, and as of right now, the PS4 has virtually no Japanese oreinted games on the horizon.

    The PS4 summer lineup (in the west) also looks boring, though Sony may announce some surprises at E3.

  • Report this Comment On May 31, 2014, at 4:13 PM, JJ82 wrote:

    "A dangerous game of predictions"

    Only because you don't have an inkling what you are talking about when it comes to gaming in Japan and you really needed to write an article...

    No one expected the PS4 to start selling decently until the end of the year when actual Japanese games started being released, even Sony said so, they said they wanted to get the system on store shelves now before the games, so players will have a chance to get their consoles before the end of the year rush.

    And WHO thought Second Son would move units in Japan?!? That would be like thinking someone thought Duki Duki Pon Pon would sell units in the west...perhaps this belongs on instead.

  • Report this Comment On May 31, 2014, at 5:22 PM, EggEmperor wrote:

    Good grief. Doom this Doom that... It's all the same. Seriously I made an account just to say this. This same site and authors were saying that Nintendo and the Wii U were sunk - repeatedly I might add - for months now. And during that same time they were saying that the X-Box 1 was Microsoft's swan song for the console market- again several times. Now they've gone to say that Sony and the PS4 are doomed/not going to work just because the Wii U is just now outselling it? Give me a break. I love Nintendo, I'm happy that they've got some good news for a change. That doesn't mean that it's suddenly the end for Sony. I currently own an N64 a Game Cube a Wii and a PS3. I will likely be getting a Wii U soon for the new Mario Kart, Super Smash and Zelda games. I will also eventually purchase a PS4 for several games that are either out or are going to come out soon FF 15 being one of them. ( Yeah I'm not a big Microsoft fan but I don't wish doom on them ). At any rate did anyone expect SS to actually sell that much in Japan? It's a game specifically made for western audiences ( more specifically American audiences). It's just like how many Japanese tailored games either don't do well here or just aren't even localized in the first place.

  • Report this Comment On May 31, 2014, at 5:24 PM, sypoth wrote:

    This won't last long, Nintendo has a very serious problem and it's called a lack of good games. One or two being added to the line up won't save it at this point, it's too far gone and very few people looking for a new console wants something designed to compete with ten year old equipment that is selling for half the cost and has a far larger library of games the majority of which are well loved and very good.

  • Report this Comment On May 31, 2014, at 5:42 PM, jm00000 wrote:


    I'd respect your thoughts more if you said that it was in your opinion that Nintendo lacks good games on the Wii U, assuming that was what you were talking about. I disagree 100% with your statement since I could name over 20 great games on the Wii U and plenty more on the way. In my opinion, the Wii U definitely has the better library than the PS4 or the Xbox One, although it had a year headstart on them. The Wii U might have a few ported games that are a few years old, but nobody can argue that Nintendo makes some of the best first-party games and most of them are always high-quality, creative, and provides new experiences despite relying on the use of the usual franchises such as Mario and Zelda. Even though third-party publishers are ditching Nintendo, it's refreshing to see how many indie developers are supporting the Wii U. By the way, I own all three of the next-gen consoles and although I can say that the Wii U doesn't have the same specs as the other two consoles, I find it very hard to tell since a lot of their games look beautiful in HD. I care more about the experiences I have while playing games and they never disappoint. I own every single console on the market right now, but this past year or so I usually just stick to playing on my Wii U, 3DS XL, and PS Vita!

  • Report this Comment On May 31, 2014, at 10:58 PM, faris wrote:

    i remember in 2007 i read the same exact thing about the PS3. it was outsold by the wii and ps2 and it was not doing very well in the Japanese market. with time it will pick up and sell. i guess the Japaneses are waiting for more exacting games or for the ps3 to die completely before switching to the ps4. i think the ps3 will continue to live for at least another 3 years.

  • Report this Comment On June 01, 2014, at 12:28 AM, Toransu30 wrote:

    In Japan we buy the game systems mostly for our kids, Nintendo makes better kid stuff.

  • Report this Comment On June 01, 2014, at 1:20 AM, kdognumba1 wrote:

    2 things.

    Japan is a market dominated by handhelds, not home consoles.

    The PS4 has mostly games aimed at a western audience on it.

  • Report this Comment On June 01, 2014, at 9:28 PM, awang0718 wrote:

    @ sypoth

    Hopefully, you do realize Mario KArt 8 came out 2 days ago. The Wii U outsold the PS4 due to Mario Kart 8 anticipation, not becasue the Wii U got "lucky."

    The Wii U's western lineup is sparse, I have to agree with you there. But in Japan, which is what this article is about, the Wii U is and will continue to kick the PS4's ass (excuse my language) until Final Fantasy 15 is released in march 2015 (that is a long time!!).

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