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PlayStation 3 Sales Tanking in Japan?

Japanese market research firm Media Create tabulates sales records from about 3,000 shops and retailers around Japan and uses the data to make estimates of game and game systems sales throughout Japan. Media Create’s latest data finds that last week was the worst sales week for Sony’s PlayStation 3 since its launch in Japan, with 25,531 units sold during the week ending January 14. Sony launched its next-generation console in Japan on December 2, 2006, and claims to have shipped 1 million PlayStation 3 systems to retailers in Japan as of January 16. However, it look like it may take retailers a long time to sell those units.

According to Media Create, Nintendo’s Wii console did much better during the week in terms of raw sales numbers—some 93,708 systems—but that actually represents the Wii’s second-worst week in Japan since the console’s launch. (The worst was about 85,500 units right after launch.) Meanwhile, Japanese sales of Microsoft’s Xbox 360 have dropped back down to pre-December levels, moving just 9,035 units. The Xbox 360 received a bit of a boost at the end of 2006 when the new game Blue Dragon was bundled with systems, but sales have returned to previous levels in the wake of the promotion.

Media Create found that Wii Sports was the nation’s number one game title for the week, selling over 61,000 units. (Wii Sports isn’t bundled with the Wii console in Japan, unlike the United States.) Wii Play came in third with about 54,500 units, but the rest of the top ten game titles were for the Nintendo DS, with the exception of Metal Gear Solid Ops for PSP, moving about 28,100 copies. No PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 games cracked the top 30, although Resistance: Fall of Man for PS3 claimed the #40 position.

The sales figures would seem to indicate that the Nintendo Wii, with its relatively low price tag and innovative controller, is the strongest contender in the Japanese market amongst the next-generation console systems, and that Sony’s PlayStation 3, despite the massive popularity of previous PlayStation consoles, is off to a very slow start. Industry watchers speculate consumer reluctance may come from a convergence of factors, including “sitting out” next-generation consoles until the next-gen DVD format war is resolved, and a lack of blockbuster titles for the PS3. Of course, now that the end-of-year holiday season is over, consumers may be more worried about paying for holiday spending than purchasing new game consoles.

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