Japanese game makers and distributors are in need of a serious power-up.

During their regular round-up of video game sales, Dengeki Online mentioned a troubling statistic for video game lovers in Japan. Sales have been steadily declining over the past ten years to the point that sales now amount to nearly one-third of those in 2007.

In Japan summer is a prime selling season, but this year summer sales of consoles and handhelds have dropped 24.1 percent to 14.2 billion yen (US$127 million) from last year. Games fared poorly as well, falling 21.1 percent down to 25 billion yen ($224 million) for an overall loss of 22.2 percent.

Dengenki Online points out the summer video game market in Japan peaked in 2007 at 113.4 billion yen ($1 billion) in sales of hardware and software. Comparing it to this year’s 39.2 billion ($351 million), its obvious to see that a substantial contraction has occurred.

So are people in the land of many of video games’ biggest names hanging up their controllers? Here’s what they had to say:

“That’s a tremendous decrease. Japanese people are ignoring the PS4 and Switch, so they should sell them in other countries. “Smartphones suit Japanese people more.”
“Yeah this is a garbage market. If you want to play good games these days, you have to learn English.”
“I still play games from five years ago. I haven’t bought a new game in three years.”
“It is because Japan only makes stupid pachinko games with famous voice actors or moe characters.”
“They rely too much on sequels, and don’t care about attracting new players.”
“Everyone who loves games uses Steam these days.”
“Even if the games look and perform better, they’re not truly evolving. VR is a good idea but I don’t want to invest the money into something that may or may not go anywhere.”

So it would seem people who enjoy games aren’t in short supply, but most of them have moved onto other sources beyond the traditional home console. On one hand, every Japanese person already has a potential game system in their pocket on which they can play convenient and instantly gratifying games during their busy lives, and play they do in record numbers.

▼ Another piece of compelling evidence: It’s now way easier to find stock photos of Japanese people playing smartphone games rather than console games.

Meanwhile, those looking for a less casual experience in their gaming in Japan have gradually discovered the joys of Steam, a platform that is allowing for more innovation than we have ever seen before, with games where you play as a little girl who headbutts everything or Moses who parts the Red Sea right into Jesus’ face.

And awkwardly stuck in the middle we have the consoles, who with all their money and talent are playing very conservatively with their large budget games and for the most part simply releasing slicker versions of pre-existing games.

That’s not to say those sequel-happy games aren’t great, nor that innovative big budget games haven’t been created recently. Nevertheless, the numbers speak for themselves, and people are clearly not as motivated to spend their hard-earned yen on what is currently available.

Source: Dengenki Online, Otaku.com
Featured image: Pakutaso
Insert image: Pakutaso