Big news in the gaming world as sales of Sony’s PlayStation 4 predicted to surpass those of Nintendo’s Wii U in Japan — despite the fact that Nintendo’s system had a full year head start.
Recent reports project that sales of the PS4 will soon overtake those of Nintendo’s Wii U in Japan, claiming the title of the country’s most popular game console.
Nintendo’s Wii U, which debuted in late 2012, has so far proven the more popular of the two, with 3,259,894 units sold in Japan against PS4’s 3,121,155 units. The PS4 easily outstrips the Wii U when global sales are taken into consideration, but this development marks a major event in Japan’s gaming world, as some predict this will serve to accelerate the Wii U’s demise. In case you were wondering, the Xbox One remains as unpopular as ever with Japanese gamers, sitting at a distant third with a measly 60,000 units sold.
▼ Author’s Wii U
Wii U has sold a cumulative of 13 million units to date around the world. As the follow-up to the Nintendo’s smash-hit Wii system, expectations were high for the Wii U. In the 76th Annual General Shareholder’s Meeting, a representative for Nintendo revealed similarly lofty ambitions ahead of the system’s launch, with some in the company projecting close to 100 million units sold worldwide. These expectations have remained largely unfulfilled, to say the least, and many regard the system’s performance as a major disappointment for the company. For comparison, Nintendo’s official figures indicate that the original Wii system had sold a whopping 101 million units globally by 2012, easily making it one of the most successful gaming systems in console history. At this rate, however, the Wii U is set to become the company’s worst-performer to date — except for maybe the migraine-inducing Virtual Boy, but we don’t talk about the Virtual Boy.
By contrast, the PlayStation 4 has been performing reliably well, boasting third-party titles from publishers like Square Enix, Konami, Capcom, and more. Since its release in 2013, the system has sold more than 40 million units around the world. A new, streamlined version of the PS4 retailing at around US$300 in Japan means that the system is now more affordable than ever, and commentators predict this will provide the boost necessary to close the gap with Nintendo’s Wii U soon enough.
▼Sony’s PS4 boasts an impressive lineup of games
The two companies’ rivalry dates back to the mid-90s, when Sony released its first, CD-based Playstation console in 1994, placing it in direct competition with Nintendo’s cartridge-based SNES. Though the two companies were initially working together to develop disk-based support for the SNES system (think Sega CD), there was a falling-out and Nintendo ultimately teamed-up with Phillips, yielding infamously hilarious results. Anyone up for a game of Hotel Mario?
As a life-long devotee of Nintendo, I can’t say this news doesn’t disappoint, but it’s unsurprising when one considers the past twenty some odd years of gaming history. It seems like the same story we’ve been hearing for the past two decades (since the N64). Nintendo continues to pump out top-notch games with its reliable stable of home-grown franchises, but its systems largely struggle to attract support from third-party publishers. And while the company’s unorthodox and independent approach to game design has led to some of its greatest successes, some might not wonder after the relatively poor performance of the Wii U and 3DS, as well as the company’s recent steps into mobile gaming, if this titan of television gaming might not be heading the way of Sega.