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It’s been two days since Sony delivered the shocking news that its newest console, PlayStation 4, won’t be launching in Japan until February 2014, despite the fact that it will go on sale in America, Europe and Australia this November. Now that the dust has settled and Sony has had chance to make some further clarifying statements via press releases and on its PlayStation Blog, Japan’s gamers have a much better idea of what to expect when the console eventually rolls out in its homeland.

Sony’s main reason for delaying the highly anticipated console, it maintains, is in order to provide a stronger software lineup when it eventually launches. Comments from Japanese gamers, however, suggest that they are neither convinced that this is the real reason for the delay, nor especially happy about being sent to the back of the queue.

  • I thought we were friends?

As the lights went down and Sony’s press conference got underway, gamers across Japan waited with baited breath for concrete details regarding PlayStation 4, the console whose unveiling received a standing ovation earlier this year and launched a thousand GIFs mocking its closest rival, Xbox One. With the console’s Western launch details having been set in stone some three weeks ago, Japanese PlayStation fans knew that they may be in for a short wait, but tuned in to the live broadcast hoping for some good news nevertheless.

So when the words “February 22, 2014” were uttered, you could almost hear hearts breaking across the land. While gamers in North America, Canada, Europe, Australia and even South America would be tooling around with the Japanese electronics giants’ newest toy in just a few weeks, the country that embraced the PlayStation brand before anyone else and helped make it the success that it is today would have to wait an additional three months. Japan had been well and truly snubbed.

  • Why so late?

Hiroshi Kawano, President of Sony Computer Entertainment Japan, took to the official PlayStation blog shortly after the announcement had been made to issue a statement detailing why the decision had been made to hold the console back in its native country.

As well as confirming the pricing of the two bundles that Japan would receive in February, Kawano reiterated his press conference message that, rather than rushing the console out of the door, he felt it far more important to release the PlayStation 4 alongside a library of quality games, most notably those that will appeal to Japanese gamers, saying:

“At this time, there are a great number of [PlayStation 4] software titles being made by developers outside of Japan. It will take time for these titles to be tailored for launch here. Furthermore, I think that it is important to add a greater number of Japanese-made games to the launch lineup.”

  • Japanese gamers’ reactions

The argument seemed sound – after all, there’s no point having a new console unless we have lots of quality software to play on it, right? And if we’re being honest, the list of (Western) day-one PlayStation 4 games is hardly the most inspired, with many of the titles gamers are really itching to get their hands on not due to arrive until early 2014 at the earliest.

The number of angry and negative comments posted beneath Mr. Kawano’s blog post, however, suggest that Japan’s gamers are not taking this news lying down, with many doubting that the console’s limited software library is the real reason.

“The whole ‘preparing software for Japan’ argument is so transparent – Sony simply wants to win in America.”

“Way too late.”

“Give me a break. What was the point in writing [such a long blog post]? This is clearly just a business move.”

“Sony is probably thinking ‘Man, Japanese gamers are kicking up a real fuss, but if we leave them be for a while they’ll calm down soon enough.'”

“If they really want more Japanese-developed games on PS4 at launch, then why isn’t Sony Japan leading by example!?”

“It’s a real shame that the console will launch so much later here.”

“Even when they said ‘late’, I thought it would mean, like, December.”

“There are plenty of users who were looking forward to playing Western-developed games like first-person shooters. Three months is a long time to wait for the console to launch.”

“So the order goes ‘America and Canada, Europe and Australia, the rest of Central America, then Japan. Sorry but isn’t this kind of messed up? All I can think is that we’re being played for chumps.”

Thankfully, there were a few voices of reason among the comments, but even they ignored Sony’s claim that the delay was intended to benefit Japanese gamers by providing them with more software from day one.

“Of course I’m disappointed, but this just reflects the market as it is right now – compared to the US, the Japanese market is tiny.”

“Clearly a lot of these [complaining] idiots haven’t looked at the state of the games industry recently…”

“Honestly, I think we’ll survive. We still plenty of games to play until February!”

  • All eyes West

As many of these comments suggest, it would seem that Sony chose to delay PlayStation 4 in Japan not just to allow for localisation of Western games and to give Japanese developers more time to ready their own titles – though this is a valid point – but because ultimately the West is where the money, and power, lie. And with Christmas fast approaching, Sony would be mad not to throw stock at the countries that will bring them the most custom in the long-run, establishing a consumer base as quickly as possible.

Despite occasional flurries of activity, Microsoft’s Xbox 360 console performed incredibly poorly in Japan. So poorly, in fact, that when Microsoft announced its strategy for its upcoming console, Xbox One, it quickly became made clear that gamers in Japan and the rest of Asia would not be getting their hands on the console for quite some time, with some wondering whether Microsoft will ever bother rolling Xbox One out in Japan at all.

The Western market, meanwhile, is a veritable whale, and key territory for both Microsoft and Sony. In a document published earlier this year, Japanese publishing company Enterbrain revealed that although Japan’s video game industry was worth an impressive US$8 billion in 2012, this figure is absolutely dwarfed by that of the North American games industry, which amounted to almost $19 billion during the same period, with Europe not far behind. Japan may well be considered the spiritual home of video games, but it would appear that the West has made the industry their own. It stands to reason, therefore, that Sony, who has comparatively little direct competition in Japan, should have its sights set squarely on the US and Europe, and is making every effort to claim territories that, in years gone by, belonged to Microsoft.

Feelings of heartache and betrayal or not, Japan, it would seem, will simply have to wait.

Source: LiveDoor News PlayStation Blog (Japanese)