I just wanted to say that this is a fantastic bit of writing. Well done noshten. :)
The initial shipments of Baseball Spirits and Monster Hunter Stories 2 are around 200K, I don't think either game will have much trouble getting a second shipment before the end of August.
Next week Skyward Sword is likely to debut above 150K while Shin-chan is heading for an opening above 50K, I definitely think Skyward Sword might end up surpassing the Wii version in Japan - which would require 350K sales, the Wii was at the time already in rapid decline in Japan and Breath of the Wild has made Zelda much more popular in the country. With Switch providing a 20 million audience I won't be surprised if the Switch version ends up above 700K with digital. This would allow it to be one of the 10 best selling Zelda entries in Japan, surpassing Ocarina of Time 3D which is currently #9.
Shin-chan is the type of title I think also has the potential to surpass 200K putting its publisher Neos and developer Millennium Kitchen back on the map. Millennium Kitchen was the dev behind My Summer Vacation a title Sony published on the PS/PS2/PS3 and PSP, the last title from them in the series came out in 2009 and sold 200K, but at the height of the franchise popularity they managed 593K sales on the PS2. This is just another small developer that in the past was entirely linked with the PlayStation ecosystem, much like a lot of other smaller developers the support Sony provided disappeared around the PS3 to PS4 transition.
This point transitions me to the stark difference when we look at the PS4/PS5 ecosystem in 2021 compared to what PSV/PS3/PS4 was able to achieve in 2015. We are half way through the year and the combined total
Top 30 PSV/PS3/PS4 2015:
PSV - 10
PS3 - 10
PS4 - 10
PS3 TOTAL: 2.087.892 (34.6%)
PS4 TOTAL: 2.083.808 (34.5%)
PSV TOTAL: 1.867.743 (30.9%)
Top 30 PS4/PS5 2021:
PS4 - 22
PS5 - 8
PS4 TOTAL: 713.598 (79.7%)
PS5 TOTAL: 181.976 (20.3%)
Even in a best case scenario for the PS4/PS5 for the rest of the year, we would be looking at a total likely around 1/3 of what PSV/PS3/PS4 managed in 2015 across the Top 30 games; the situation is much worse when we consider how low the sales of software will be below the Top 30, as it's possible that a game that sold just over 30K can end up being one of the Top 30 selling titles on the system compared to 97K in 2015.
The most concerning thing is the situation with PS5 software, as currently there is likely no more than 15 titles this year that have surpassed 10K sales on the system. Even with 30% digital across PS4/PS5 titles we would still be looking at 1.1 to 1.2 million software across the Top 30 titles. While even if we give PS5 a generous 50% digital rate, it's total sales for the year would still be below 400K units across it's Top 10 selling titles.
Whats coming to the ecosystem in the fall? Tales of Arise, Demon Slayer, Lost Judgement are the highest profile titles, we will have a few Western AAA games, a bunch of multiplats that are likely to sell best on the Switch and a few titles getting an upgrade for the PS5 like Ghost of Tsushima. From a first party perspective Forbidden West is the highest profile title we know about, there is a few indie games Sony is also pushing like Kana
So we are at a point in time where the strategy Konami has undertaken with Baseball Spirits will become more common place, especially for franchises that are expected to achieve over 25% of their lifetime sales in Japan. Japanese third parties are generally the slowest to transition to a new device. As PS4 is unlikely to be able to maintain even these type of software sales for much longer, while it's questionable if the 900K PS5 sold in Japan have actually ended up in the hands of Japanese consumers with these type of software sales. So the active audience across the ecosystem will shrink further next year without compelling reasons for Japanese buyers to jump on-board. We know that Sony doesn't have big 1st party titles lined-up that are Japanese focused, and as far as third parties go - the biggest title we know is coming in 2022 is Final Fantasy XVI - will one major title alone create demand next year? It's more likely that if it remains PS5 exclusive to struggle to sell even 1/3 of what XV managed on the PS4 in Japan.
As most Japanese publishers that have launched PS5 games so far have access to these results and likely pay companies like Media Create for an even better view of the market.. it's becoming a huge business risk to not place the Switch as a center of their strategy going forward.
Scarlet Nexus is perhaps the best cautionary tale, as this is a major effort by some of Bandai's biggest internal teams - yet as far as performance especially in Japan it completely bombed and it doesn't seem that retailers who ordered the initial shipment are especially surprised. This is also the case for Resident Evil in Japan, Village has struggled to sell it's initial shipment and it has taken major price cuts for retailers to get rid of their excess stock.. the titles will end up with Japan representing less than 10% of it's Global sales, however unlike Scarlet Nexus - RE has been a pretty huge success overseas, while Scarlet Nexus is likely to struggle to surpass 1 million sales until deep price cuts on digital store fronts - something I'm guessing Bandai's board won't be too pleased with. Especially when they compare it's performance to a game like Little Nightmares 2 which had shipped over 1 million all the way back in March, somehow the small team behind it was able to launch it on multiple platforms, and it probably cost 1/10 of the budget to make compared to Scarlet Nexus.
Nier Replicant is the third title we can look at, it's off the back of a massively successful break-out for the franchise in Japan and had it launched a few years ago it wouldn't have been struggling to surpass 200K sales on the PS4, honestly I think had the game launched in 2019 it would not had any troubles surpassing 300K physical sales.
We also have the case of Samurai Warriors 5, it has experienced a massive decline compared to Samurai Warriors 4 and the situation would have been even worse without a Switch version. There is still over 20% of the initial shipment out there so it's unlike for the title to need a second shipment in Japan across it's two SKUs. Still long term its looking like the Switch version will end up out-legging the PS4 one, despite this being another franchise that's more synonymous to the PS Ecosystem. Positioning Switch as the leading platform for the franchise going forward.
In terms of western titles Biomutant surprisingly is the best selling Western title of the year on the PS4/PS5, as it's not only Japanese third parties that have struggled to launch games on the PS4/PS5 this year; still I don't think there are that many Western titles that will perform well in Japan in 2021/2022 targeting the PS4/PS5.
I also estimated that the PS5 launch titles likely have surpassed 25K sales this year although not confirmed, as mentioned earlier Sony doesn't have that many 1st Party titles that can make an impact in their position on the Japanese market.
Sony needs to do more to make the PlayStation 5 a compelling product for the Japanese audience but without a strong 1st Party studio that's in sync with what the audience wants, the only way to do it is to start to invest into a lot more Japanese 3rd Party titles. The issue is that their negotiation strength is much weaker than 2015 - meaning it would be more expensive to secure this type of exclusivity going forward. For example they can't treat one of executives to dinner and expect exclusivity like what happened in the past there is far more pressure right now than in 2015.