Happy New year!(already Jan 2 in Japan...)
2020 was a year for Switch and Animal Crossing. Then, markets will changes in 2021?
First, It's very difficult even in Japan that we get the release date of games near future due to repercussions from COVID-19. So, this prospects contains many speculations. And at the moment, there aren't any important information for game changers, so Nintendo Switch will keep its momentum in first half of this year.
A biggest event in first quarter is Monster Hunter Rise(NSW). Monster Hunter franchise is one of largest franchises in that of Japanese third party. But Monster Hunter: Ice Borne that was unpopular with many players overshadows the future of franchise. So, it is noteworthy that Rise is capable restoring franchise's value. There is a rumor that PC version will be released later, but it wouldn't affect its sales because it is fun of many players to grope for how to fight against new monsters and new DLC quests with friends.
Next, Nintendo will release remaster of Super Mario 3D world. There are many fans wait with fun to play additional content: Bowser's Fury.
Marvelous is one of the few companies that shows their schedules near future clearly. Marvelous will release two important franchises for NSW. One is Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town. It is a new original one as far back as Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns, so it is much anticipated by fans of Story of Seasons franchise. Another is Rune factory 5 that is new work for the first time in 9 years(Really? oh...). Rune factory 4 was completely successful game and its shipment ran up more than two times compered to the older ones. So, it's worth nothing that new release will be able to exceed the sales of previous work.
Bravely default II is not a notable one, but it can't be ignored. Previous work's sales wasn't so much but it got a decent evaluation from players. its old FF-like style has not a little nostalgia for old game players. But some stray of Octopus Traveler for smartphones make people be anxious a little.
About PS, NieR Replicant is only a few games released for PS only. Previous work, NieR Automata sold about 400k in Japan. But there are some negative views that only character design by Akiihiko Yoshida is evaluated. So, it needs to show more quality to gain more sales.
After Spring, schedules are completely in the fog. Nintendo didn't show their schedules last year. So, it is supposed to stream Nintendo Direct in January. There are so many assumption about it, Switch Pro, remaster of Pokemon Diamond/Pearl, BOTW2 and so on. This is only my assumption but Nintendo won't be so active in market this year because they need to be conscious for new hardware and its launches. From third parties, Atlus plans Shin Magami Tensei V for NSW but there isn't notable information now. Many people points out Square Enix needs to decide the plan for DQ12 this year. DQ franchise at the crossroads for its future. To be clear, DQ11 wasn't the success and Location-based game for smartphones is most valuable content of franchise now. The biggest cause of failure is DQ franchise can't get younger users, so it is important they shows enough appeals for younger people. Some of other companies shows some future plan, but it is very vague. At current, market keeps to wait and see the circumstances of switch and PS5...
As a conclusion, this year will be transitional period for Japanese market. Nintendo will be under pressure for next-gen hardware from mismatch to performance against other consoles and SIE will receive more pressure for popularization. Third parties decide their plans while looking sideways at the situation. If so, there seems to be no major change in the market in this year.
If you need something about Japanese market from the perspective of Japanese, please contact me.