Japanese gamers might be losing interest in the offerings of companies like Sony and Nintendo, it seems. The console market is down 16 percent compared to last year, according to a report by Japan’s Computer Entertainment Suppliers Association.
The report, which includes not only the PlayStation 4 and Wii U, but the 3DS and and PS Vita, states that the combined hardware and software sales are down to $4 billion in 2013 versus $4.8 billion in 2012.
According CESA, the market for smartphone games, on the other hand, is up to $3.5 billion in 2013. Handhelds have long been a mainstay of the Japanese market – the 3DS has double the penetration over there as compared to in the United States – but with free to play phone RPGs like Puzzle & Dragons popular with both kids and adults, there’s less reason to spend money on console games. This is a fear that core gamers often express, and it seems in Japan it might actually be coming true.
This trend seems to support the image of a struggling console market created by sluggish PlayStation 4 sales and delayed games. If free-to-play games are truly the next trend in Japan, we can expect to see more of them appear on Nintendo and Sony’s consoles in the coming years, though it’s hard to say how many will make it to the states.