It seems with the PlayStation 5, Sony is going to shift its focus away from its home market, Japan. At least that’s what Bloomberg‘s latest report is supposed to imply. According to the report, after the PS4’s disappointing performance in Japan, it has decided to focus more on the U.S. instead. The U.S. PlayStation office was frustrated at the Japanese marketing team and has now sidelined the team in planning the next-gen console promotion. As of September, PS4 lifetime sales have passed 113.5 million units worldwide but Japan only accounts for about 7 percent of that.
Allegedly the company also hasn’t renewed contracts with several developers at SIE Japan Studio. An employee said that the U.S. headquarter believes the business “doesn’t need games that only do well in Japan”.
Whether you realized it or not, there have been several clues to this major shift. First, back in 2019, the company established new “content guidelines” that elicit negative reactions from niche Japanese developers. Then, of course, the PlayStation headquarters moved to San Mateo, California, from Aoyama, Tokyo. Later, both the PS5 hardware and line-up reveal live streams took place at 12 PM PDT, making the shows more accessible to the U.S. audience while Asian fans had to watch them in the early morning. And lastly, after 26-year having their own control scheme, Sony decided to standardize its X/O selection buttons for Japanese PS5 releases as well.
Although PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan has said that “there will be more PS5s at launch than PS4s”, Japanese retailers argued that they have received less PS5 units than when PS3 was released, which had a limited first run. Talking with Bloomberg’s Takashi Mochizuki, Morningstar Research analyst Kazunori Ito said that most video game market researchers agree that PlayStation seems ready to basically abandon Japan this time around.
It’s analyst consensus that PlayStation no longer sees the Japan market as important. If you want to know their take on the Japanese market, you need to ask about it because otherwise Sony wouldn’t talk about it.
Sony’s spokeswoman Natsumi Atarashi said that the claim is incorrect and doesn’t reflect the company’s strategy. She noted that PS5 is still going to launch first in Japan on November 12 along with North America, Australia, and South Korea, and the country remains of “utmost importance” to the company. With Switch dominating the Japanese console market, it’s not really surprising that Sony decided to look elsewhere to strengthen its business. But do you think this decision might cost them relationships with developers in the long run? Let us know what you think in the comments below.