Nintendo really knows how to appeal to kids

Nintendo Wii accessories

All Nintendo all the time

DS Lites on display including the new colours metallic rose and gloss silver

Nintendo DS accessories

One of the few shelves of Sony merchandise
Nintendo rules all general Japanese department store sales space

For the month of June, figures coming out of Japan show the Nintendo Wii outselling the PlayStation 3 almost six to one. Since statistics often tell half the story it might be interesting to examine the details of why this is happening.

To aid in my research, I visited several department stores in my area with my less conspicuous cell phone camera (stores typically get nervous of people taking pictures inside the shop). Although statistically insignificant, this did allow me to see for myself what options the average Japanese consumer has. 

When visiting the console games section of a typical department store, what quickly becomes evident is that shelf space is dominated by Nintendo goods by a factor of four times. If there are 10 shelves of goods, eight of them are stacked full of Nintendo Wii and DS Lite merchandise. Two shelves, at most, will have a combination of PS2, PS3 and PSP merchandise. In some of the smaller department stores I visited, there was no PS3 merchandise, and in all stores I visited there was no Xbox 360 product.

If the stocking decisions made by these department stores are a reflection of consumer demand, then there is little demand for the PlayStation 3 and no demand for the Xbox 360. I would like to have seen these shelves during the heyday of the PS2 or the even the PSone. Were these store shelves dominated by Sony hardware and software in the same way Nintendo dominates now?

One thing I can conclude as a consumer living in a typical Japanese suburb – I have many options for purchasing Nintendo hardware and software, but I have almost no brick and mortar options for purchasing an Xbox 360. My options for purchasing PlayStation hardware and software vary from store to store.

If I were a consumer who wanted to purchase an Xbox 360 I would most likely need to head in to central Tokyo to purchase one from a Yodobashi Camera or a Bic Camera where they are still available. Mainstream department stores are one of the locations where the console wars are fought and it appears the Xbox 360 is not even in the game while the PlayStation 3 is barely hanging on.

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