Consoles Sell... but Who's Buying?

Another interesting perspective (stolen from the Install Base message boards) on the evolution of the Japanese market: the History of Famitsu’s software sales ranking Top 30 by platform dominance. It’s from last May but you can color the rest of 2023 in red.


It’s the first time the leading platform of its generation has kept its chokehold on software beyond five years. The awkward transition years (1991, 1995, 2001, 2011, 2017) are obviously the most interesting to observe. Only the PS2→DS segue was a clean cut.

One can tell each new leading console usually takes roughly a year to take command, specifically during holiday season, with the notable exception of 1995/1996 (the Saturn winning over Christmas 1995 but immediately conceding to PlayStation in 1996). In 1990/1991, it also seems that Game Boy and Super Famicom are cannibalizing each other as follow-ups to the Famicom.

2011 is a real mess and rightfully marks the nadir of console gaming in Japan, with no new hardware from that upcoming generation (3DS, Vita, WiiU, PS4, XBO) fully answering the needs and tastes of Japanese consumers while smartphone gaming is exploding in popularity (Puzzle & Dragons releases on February 2012).

Here is a recent update of known console numbers for France.


PS3 ended up doing really well in France, comparatively to other markets in which it is usually far behind PS2 and PS4. PSP did also better than I expected considering the comparatively low software sales. France is the biggest market for the Switch in Europe, whereas the UK was the biggest market for the Wii. There is no public data for PS5 vs. Xbox Series but everything points to the gap getting wider than PS4 vs. Xbox One, as Sony finally stopped prioritizing North America over Europe last year.


@“◉◉maru”#p149794 Here is a recent update of known console numbers for France.

Lovely info there, thanks Maru. I haven't looked into France yet but I know from friends and people here they have always been a Nintendo heavy country going back to the NES days.

I've wanted to do some more on this, but with the new year I have a LOT of stuff to do for 2023 reviews (boo!). I did find this on LinkedIn which really was amazing work.

Someone scraped for game sales over 100,000 units and did some great analysis on it by genre. I will try and do something with it when I have time.

@“◉◉maru”#p149794 I'm kind of surprised that in France the third most popular Nintendo system is not the Ouii.

Ouii Ioue

It‘s interesting to think there’s probably a Japanese podcast being made about how awesome the Xbox is.

@“Tom of the Fog”#p149795 That’s a pretty cool endeavor. I don’t know the situation right now but, up until ten years ago, Vgchartz was known for making up a lot of its numbers (with “guesstimates” that had a way worse margin of error than professional agencies). Fortunately they would correct (sometimes drastically) their data once proven wrong by actual financial results and other white papers, but that kind of shenanigans led a lot of analysts to stop relying on them (unless the fake data served their purpose >!the Eidos-era Square Enix notably!<). So maybe take that data with a grain of salt.

@“◉◉maru”#p150002 As you can appreciate, getting actual sales data for anyone in the industry unless it‘s directly from the manufacturers themselves is tough and sometimes you work with what you can get. I wasn’t aware of the reputation of vgchartz in that respect so thanks for letting me know. They did a lot of work putting the data set together so even from a curiousity side it‘s interesting to see the numbers and units sold, but I agree I wouldn’t take it as the actuals, more an educated estimate if that.