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Forums - Sales Discussion - Best-Selling Western Games in Japan (500k+)

The Japanese market is infamous for largely sticking to games and hardware developed in their own country. This thread is devoted to celebrating Western-devleloped games that have found a large audience there.

Note: Since VGChartz is currently focusing more on global shipments rather than individual countries, I'm using a combination of official statements and Famitsu information to calculate sales, including digital info when available. Sales may be higher than shown below.

1. Minecraft (5.31 million sales)

Developer: Mojang (Sweden)

Breakdown

  • PS3: 380.000 digital
  • PS4: 426,235 retail + 440,399 digital
  • PS Vita: 1,095,680 retail + 357,935 digital
  • Switch: 1,488,159 retail + 546,295 digital
  • Wii U: 369,757 retail + 182,812 digital
  • X360: 24,394 retail
  • X1: 855 retail + 855 digital

2. Donkey Kong Country (3.25 million sales)

Developer: Rare (United Kingdom)

Breakdown

  • GBA: 251,878 retail sales
  • SNES: 3,000,000 retail sales

3. Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest (2.31 million)

Developer: Rare (United Kingdom)

Breakdown

  • GBA: 103,780 
  • SNES: 2,210,000

4. Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble (1.87 million)

Developer: Rare (United Kingdom)

Breakdown

  • GBA: 100,175 retail
  • SNES: 1,770,000 retail

5. Grand Theft Auto V (1.74 million sales)

Developer: Rockstar North (United Kingdom)

Breakdown

  • PS3: 880,877 retail + 2,519 digital
  • PS4: 708,610 retail + 115,749 digital
  • X360: 33,894 retail

6. Donkey Kong Country Returns (1.31 million)

Developer: Retro Studios (USA)

Breakdown

  • 3DS: 331,697 retail + 870 digital
  • Wii: 979,539 retail

7. Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back (1.10 million)

Developer: Naughty Dog (USA)

Breakdown

  • PS: 1,099,708 retail

8. Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon (1.06 million)

Developer: Next Level Games (Canada)

Breakdown

  • 3DS: 1,057,707 retail + 968 digital

9. Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped (0.92 million)

Developer: Naughty Dog (USA)

Breakdown

  • PS: 917,105 retail

10. Donkey Kong 64 (0.85 million)

Developer: Rare (United Kingdom)

Breakdown

  • N64: 848,375 retail

11.Luigi's Mansion 3 (0.78 million)

Developer: Next Level Games (Canada)

Breakdown

  • N64: 678,086 retail + 98,771 digital

12. Crash Bandicoot (0.69 million)

Developer: Naughty Dog (USA)

Breakdown

  • PS: 694,104 retail

13.  Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 (0.67 million)

Developer: Treyarch (USA)

Breakdown

  • PS4:  511,722 retail + 155,094 digital

14. Just Dance Wii (0.67 million)

Developer: Ubisoft Paris (France)

  • Wii: 666,644 retail

15. Diddy Kong Racing (0.65 million)

Developer: Rare (United Kingdom)

Breakdown

  • N64: 653,426 retail

16. Call of Duty: Black Ops II (0.63 million)

Developer: Treyarch (USA)

Breakdown

  • PS3: 575,373 retail
  • Wii U: 21,471 retail
  • X360: 36,517 

17. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (0.60 million)

Developer: Rockstar North

Breakdown

  • PS2: 601,445 retail

18. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (0.59 million)

Developer: Infinity Ward

Breakdown

  • PS3: 493,230 retail
  • X360: 99,487 retail

19. Battlefield 4 (0.58 million)

Developer: DICE (Sweden)

Breakdown

  • PS3: 232,348 retail + 4,895 digital
  • PS4: 114,163 retail + 209,983 digital
  • X360: 13,354 retail
  • X1: 415 digital

20. The Last of Us (0.57 million)

Developer: Naughty Dog (USA)

Breakdown

  • PS3: 235,571 retail
  • PS4: 155,785 retail + 180,049 digital

21. Ratchet & Clank (0.56 million)

Developer: Insomiac (USA)

Breakdown

  • PS2: 562,658 retail

22. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (0.56 million)

Developer: Rockstar North (United Kingdom)

Breakdown

  • PS2: 557,132 retail

23. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (0.56 million)

Developer: Infinity Ward (USA)

Breakdown

  • PS3: 500,640 retail
  • X360: 56,129 retail

24. Call of Duty: Black Ops (0.55 million)

Developer: Treyarch (USA)

Breakdown

  • PS3: 482,537 retail
  • X360: 66,966 retail
Last edited by Salnax - on 17 November 2020

Love and tolerate.

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Honorable Mentions and Near Misses

  • Tetris was originally developed in Russia, but I feel that the versions of Tetris are too different to be considered a single game. Furthermore, the best-selling versions of Tetris in Japan are all developed by Japanese companies. Still, if you feel that an IP's country of origin is what really matters, Tetris on the Game Boy is #2 on the list above with 4.23 million sales.
  • Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS was ported by the American-based Nintendo Software Technology Corporation. I didn't count the porting of a game as developing it, but if this game is treated as a seperate entity, then it makes it on the list with 1.19 million retail and digital sales.
  • SimCity on the Super Famicom sold a whopping 900,000 copies in Japan alone. However, it is hard to consider it a western game when the port was developed and published by Nintendo under a license from Maxis. Similarly, if we combine the Saturn and Super Famicom versions of SimCity 2000, we end up with about 470,000 sales, an impressive number.
  • A number of entries in series represented in the list above narrowly missed the cut. These include Grand Theft Auto III, Grand Theft Auto IV and Liberty City Stories, Call of Duty: Black Ops III, Call of Duty: WWII, and Call of Duty: Ghosts, Battlefield 1,
  • The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim is the biggest western RPG in Japanese history, with over 400,000 sales.
  • Although FIFA pales in comparison to the Winning Eleven (PES) series in Japan, the 1998 entry for PlayStation, FIFA World Championship, sold about 400,000 copies.

Trivia

  • Of the 24 games with at least 500,000 sales, 11 are from the United States, 8 are from the United Kingdom, 2 are from Canada, 2 are from Sweden, 1 is from France.
  • The games on this list mostly come from two time periods: the first wave, which includes 8 of these games, lasted from 1994 to 1999. Then from 2000 to 2008, only 3 games on this list were released. Then the second wave of 11 games came from 2009 to 2013. We are currently in another relative quiet period for Western games, as the only big games from 2014 to 2020 have been Luigi's Mansion 3 and Black Ops 4.
Last edited by Salnax - on 05 November 2020

Love and tolerate.

Well, DK and Luigi aren't purely Western games. They are japanese licences that were developed by western studios which differs completely from being 100% western. Deleting them from this list and putting others would be more relevant in my opinion.



Famitsu digital estimates aren't accurate



theDX said:
Famitsu digital estimates aren't accurate

If they were accurate then they wouldn't be "estimates"



Bet Shiken that COD would outsell Battlefield in 2018. http://gamrconnect.vgchartz.com/post.php?id=8749702

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Good thread idea.

Minecraft is a beast.

Crash Bandicoot used to be so strong in Japan.



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1gWECYYOSo

Please Watch/Share this video so it gets shown in Hollywood.

heavenmercenary01 said:
Well, DK and Luigi aren't purely Western games. They are japanese licences that were developed by western studios which differs completely from being 100% western. Deleting them from this list and putting others would be more relevant in my opinion.

This was something I had to think about when making this thread: what exactly was a Western game?

I ultimately decided to stick with where the developer was based because when I thought about it, you'd end up with some really odd data points if you based it more on Intellectual properties or publishers. For example, Dragon Ball Z: The Legacy of Goku was based on a Japanese license, but the developers were American and the publisher was European. Further complicating matters is the fact that even many Western games that do well are published through Japanese publishers, but only in Japan. This was why the best-selling games published by Capcom on the PS2 were technically the Grand Theft Auto trio.

Ultimately, I chose to just focus on where the developers were based. It seemed like the simplest answer I'd find. If it's any comfort, I'm planning all including all games above a certain point, whether they are based on a Japanese property or not, so it's not as if any more Western games are being kept off the list by Donkey Kong Country.



Love and tolerate.

Western = not japanese? And where are the mobile games?






konnichiwa said:
Western = not japanese? And where are the mobile games?

I'm including the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and every European country as "Western." If anyone wants to argue for including or excluding a country (one could make an argument for Latin America being Western for example), I'm open to suggestions. Note that this does exclude other Asian countries like China and South Korea.

I'm not including mobile games for a few reasons. Part of it is that most of the big mobile games are free with microtransactions, making it hard to compare them to traditional retail games. Another problem is that it's hard to find the actual sales of many mobile games sold in a single country, including Japan. Most of the information I find refers to how much a game grosses or their player counts including those who downloaded a game for free, which is again hard to compare.



Love and tolerate.

Anyhow, I plan on eventually adding every Western game with sales information indicating at least 500,000 sales within Japan. Expect to see more games from Rare, Naughty Dog, Treyarch, Ubisoft Paris, Infinity Ward, Insomniac, Rockstar North, and DICE.



Love and tolerate.