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Consoles go head to head in Old Tokyo

INQ Tales from Tokyo part III The state of play in Akihabara
Mon Apr 02 2007, 04:10
WE HEAR a lot about the Japanese gaming market, the country is home to several of the leading giants, including Nintendo and Sony, and the territory is often the first to receive the bleeding edge of console and games technology.

Following on from our previous looks at Tokyo and Akihabara specifically, we're now going to examine the actual state of play within the Electric Town, as seen by our own eyes.

In many smaller stores the Xbox 360 offering is consigned to a very small area, where the latest games are on offer, along with a number of discount titles. The PS2 is still the dominating factor over any console, but the Japanese title availability for Sony's last-gen console, and the floor space it occupies must embarrass Microsoft, and possibly even Sony considering the PS3 has been available over several months in Japan.

Despite the smaller stores offering little in the way of shelf space for the 360, a lot of the bigger stores offer quite a significant portfolio of hardware, games, and point-of-sale:

alt='360advert'

Albeit some of it is very Japanese...

alt='360pos'

Quite often the two performance leaders were put head to head, for instant visual comparisons: alt='xboxvsps3'

Considering the 360's lagging sale, more important was the local battle between Sony and Nintendo, with their respective consoles; the Playstation 3 and the Wii.

Similar to the state of the UK market, and reports from the US, the PS3 seemed to be in plentiful supply. The odd store had sold out stickers on either one of the SKUs, but generally the units were available to purchase instantly - not only in specialised gaming shops, but also in general electronic department stores.

The INQ picked up a Jap 60GB PS3 for around ¥55,000(duty free) which is around £250.The same unit, minus the PS2 backwards compatibility hardware, costs £425 in the UK. Unfortunately it cost us £60 to send the 8.5kg package back via EMS.

Contrastingly, the Wii was nowhere to be seen. Not one store in Akihabara seemed to have units for sale, and quite often sold out signs banded across Wii boxes were pictured directly next to notices of PS3s in stock.

alt='ps3vswii1'

alt='ps3vswii2'

Note the sold out Xbox 360 sign, which was a much less frequent observation.

A very similar situation was apparent when looking at the handheld gaming market.

PSPs in every possible colour, including red, pink, gold, and white, were readily available in any gaming store. DSs on the other hand, were frequently sold out and out of stock in every possible variation of colour.

alt='dssoldout'

alt='moredssoldout'

It seems via simple observation within Tokyo's dense gaming district of Akihabara, that the console war is already showing some signs of a winner in Japan.

Unless there is a huge discrepancy between the manufacturing output of Sony and Nintendo, Nintendo is clearly in the lead with sales and consumer minds. Both Wii and DS units are nowhere to be seen.

See Also:
Part Two: The INQ visits Akihabara, Tokyo
Part One: Head east for disorientation

 

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