The land of the rising sun has been a forbidding and inhospitable place for Microsoft’s gaming console. Despite solid sales elsewhere around the world, the Xbox 360 never really caught on in Japan, and both Sony and Nintendo crushed the gaijin console. To put it in perspective, the Wii has sold 11.74 million units in Japan and the PS3 has sold 6.85–compared to the American totals for each system, those numbers might seem low, but they are sold for Japan. By comparison, the 360 has sold a meager 1.52 million units since 2005.
Hardware sales in general are struggling in Japan, but none so much as the 360. According to Next-gen.biz, Japan’s largest gaming store, Geo, has announced that it is the latest Japanese retailer to phase out the majority of its Xbox 360 items. Beginning immediately, the majority of its stores will sell off all current stock of hardware and software at deeply discounted prices. Xbox 360 products will still be available in select locations and online, but the majority of stock will soon hit the bargain bin.
But don’t go crying for Microsoft just yet. Even with the dismal Japanese sales, the 360 has seen a great deal of success around the world. It is far ahead of the PS3 in sales in the Americas—32.67 million to 20.39 million—and only trails Sony in Europe by a few million, a relatively small figure—24.74 million to 21.18 million.
The bigger issue is what happens in the next few years. Microsoft has always struggled in Japan, and with new consoles due out from both Microsoft and Sony within the next few years, it may be difficult for Microsoft to convince Japanese retailers to stock the next gen Microsoft system.
Last month Microsoft Japan recently formed the Interactive Entertainment Business (IEB), which will focus exclusively on the Xbox 360 and its replacement. So despite losing the support of many Japanese retailers, Microsoft seems to have no plans to surrender the Japanese market just yet.