Despite Flagging Physical Software Sales, PS5's Retail Presence Is Still Strong in Japan 1
Image: Push Square

During a recent trip to Tokyo, we were eager to observe PlayStation’s retail presence. A lot has been made of PS5’s flagging physical software sales, which look downright embarrassing compared to the biggest hits on Nintendo Switch. Titles like Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth and Dragon’s Dogma 2 have disappointed domestically according to Famitsu’s sales, and while Rise of the Ronin is selling reasonably relative to expectations, it’s not exactly setting cash registers alight either.

We visited Yodobashi Akiba in the infamously video game and anime obsessed Akihabara district to get an overall feel for the situation, and we didn’t exactly come away thinking Sony has been phoning things in. It’s true that Nintendo has a commanding presence overall, but PlayStation is still very visible in the retail chain, and promotion for titles like the aforementioned is extremely strong, with the upcoming Shibuya-based action game REYNATIS and Shift Up’s console debut Stellar Blade also getting big pushes.

One thing that struck us is that PC is clearly becoming an increasingly popular platform for Japanese gamers, as there is a huge area dedicated to monitors, desktop computers, streaming equipment, gaming chairs, and more. Sony even appears to be taking advantage of the popularity of the platform, as we were surprised to see an enormous banner promoting PS Studios titles on PC, the first time we’ve really noticed the platform holder actively advertise its computer-based conversions outside of the Internet.

While the Nintendo Switch area is overall larger in Yodobashi Akiba, it’s filled with Super Mario and Splatoon merchandise, while PlayStation’s area has several playable booths, each showcasing PS5 games like Tekken 8 and Final Fantasy 16. We should probably add that Xbox barely exists in the store, although it has a larger presence than we’ve seen in other Asian countries, with a small, corner display dedicated to recent indie sensation Palworld.

Sony clearly hasn’t given up just yet, but consumers don’t appear to be responding in kind. Perhaps we need more data, like the overall popularity of digital downloads in Japan, to get the full picture. Still, you could never argue PlayStation is a dying brand based on its presence in Yodobashi Akiba alone – it’s hard to imagine what more the platform holder could do to attract customers based on this showing. Perhaps the market just isn’t interested in stationary home consoles like it used to be.