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
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
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.