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Forums - Sales Discussion - Prospects for Japanese market 2021

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.



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I haven't looked at what's announced in detail but 2021 could be an even better year for software sales. Hardware could decline unless a Switch revision releases. The market is relatively healthy right now so it's really just about launching good software and hoping for good word of mouth.

I'm excited for potential Dragon Quest announcements (the Monsters game or even DQ12), the next batch of PS5 announcements from third parties and of course Nintendo's plans for the second half of the year.



2021 is set to be an unprecedented year, I don't think Nintendo are under any pressure from PS5. The PS5 has already shown us what to expect from it and it won't be attractive for Japanese buyers until well into the future when it become less bulky & expensive. 

In terms of Nintendo they've already proven that they can make dominate the Japanese market without Major 3rd Party support and in 2021 they are actually going to receive more 3rd Party support than the previous 4 years combined. Combine that with their 1st and 2nd party exclusives and the situation in 2021 will be one of total domination by the Switch with over 90% of hardware & software market. 

Prediction for 2021 known titles:

  1. Monster Hunter Rise >5M
  2. New Horizon, Ring Fit Adventure >2M
  3. Bowser's Fury >1.5M
  4. Momotaro, Olive Town >1M
  5. Bravely Default 2, SMT V, Rune Factory 5, Monster Hunter Stories 2 >500K

Just across the titles we know about thus far which have been dated as 2021 & evergreens I believe there is a lot of potential growth; as the games reveled thus far will definitely making a case for 2021>2020 in several different ways. 

Monster Hunter Rise, New Horizon, Ring Fit Adventure have the potential to surpass 10 million sales combined in 2021. More importantly these will be three of the titles expanding the audience - just these three games can ensure hardware is flat YoY and we are about to experience the 3rd best year for a platform in Japan's history. 

Outside of these titles we also have a consistent stream of games that will easily sell more than some games that made the Top 10 in 2020. Momotaro for example doesn't show any signs of slowing down and will likely continue to do well in 2020, that's why I think it has the potential to surpass 1 million in 2021, bringing it's lifetime sales above 2.5 million.

Olive Town will greatly benefit from last year's launch of New Horizon, the game is priced like Momotaro and will likely resonate with the audience that bought New Horizon.

Bowser's Fury is an enhanced edition of a game that sold 600K on the Wii U, so at bare minimum we are looking at 1 million sold(I think with potential of over 2 million lifetime).

We also have games that could definitely see big franchise growth like Bravely Default 2, Shin Megami Tensei V, Rune Factory 5, Monster Hunter Stories 2 but at least 3 of them I anticipate will take the franchise into a new stratosphere. 

TOP 10 Switch Famitsu 2020 H1:

  1. Animal Crossing: New Horizons - 4.783.229
  2. Pokemon Sword / Shield - 626.193
  3. Ring Fit Adventure - 490.407
  4. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe - 317.718
  5. Smash Ultimate - 265.630
  6. Minecraft - 260.993
  7. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX - 255.177
  8. Dr. Kawashima's Brain Training for Nintendo Switch - 208.796
  9. Super Mario Party - 198.773
  10. Splatoon 2 - 193.890

TOTAL SOFTWARE: 7.600.806

TOTAL HARDWARE: 2.666.882

As we can see in 2020 H1 outside of New Horizon no 2020 title really had much impact, Ring Fit Adventure was supply constrained during the first half of 2020, Pokemon Sword / Shield wasn't performing much better than what I anticipate Momotaro will do. 

On average Switch was selling 100K per week but obviously a lot of the stock was focused on the New Horizon launch. The only new game to sell above 200K in the first half of the year was Pokemon Mystery Dungeon which honestly didn't perform all that impressive. Compare this to the situation if all the games I listed above manage to launch before the end of June:

  1. Monster Hunter Rise >3.5M
  2. Bowser's Fury, Ring Fit Adventure, New Horizon >1M
  3. Olive Town >750K
  4. Momotaro, Bravely Default 2 >500K
  5. SMT V, Rune Factory 5, Monster Hunter Stories 2 >400K

SOFTWARE PREDICTION >9450K

HARDWARE PREDICTION >3250K

To reach such a hardware total by H2 Switch would need to sell 125K hardware on average for the first 26 weeks of 2021, which would be 25% growth YoY. 

With no Switch Pro or additional titles I think we are set to see such growth, outside of the much stronger line-up we are also going to see much less competition as the PS5 is unlikely to be able to maintain PlayStation's market share in 2020 - leading to some of the PS4 audience migrating to the Switch. 

Now if a Switch Pro or some other major 1st or 2nd Party title gets announced for April/May by Nintendo - we might see an even stronger performance. 

Overall Switch's position on the Japanese Market is unprecedented in 2021, the last time Nintendo enjoyed such domination was in 1994 and we cannot really compare the two periods as the video game market was far smaller back than. 

A lot of people continue to talk about the cliff but 2021 will be another year of growth for Nintendo. Especially without any competition and a title like Monster Hunter Rise launching so early, there is definitely going to be strong momentum heading into H2. I cannot really talk about the second half of the year outside of the fact that it should at worse match H1 in terms of Hardware and Software sales. Once we know a bit more about what to expect in the fall we can draw our conclusions but 2020 had ZERO big 1st Party or 2nd Party games - imagine the difference Breath of the Wild 2 and a new Pokemon game can make to H2 2021. 

One Final Reminder about the legs of Animal Crossing, since I think I might be underestimating the game with my 2 million prediction, we gotta remember we've never seen such a monster before. 

New Leaf

  • 2012: 2.286.977
  • 2013: 1.730.182
  • 2014: 232.273
  • 2015: 195.655
  • 2016: 118.463
  • 2017: 247.621
  • 2018: 105.371
  • 2019: 47.880

New Horizon 

  • 2020: >8.5M shipped+digital


Right now, it's going to be interesting to see if Japan accepts the PS5, considering how Sony are focusing more and more on western tastes and preferences. Still, even if it becomes successful the Switch is going to stay as the de facto console over there, especially when Monster Hunter releases. It's going to be massive over there, probably reaching PSP levels of sales.



You know it deserves the GOTY.

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Darwinianevolution said:

Right now, it's going to be interesting to see if Japan accepts the PS5, considering how Sony are focusing more and more on western tastes and preferences. Still, even if it becomes successful the Switch is going to stay as the de facto console over there, especially when Monster Hunter releases. It's going to be massive over there, probably reaching PSP levels of sales.

Yes, at now, PS5 is in the extremely difficult situation. It seems that quite a lot of shipments bought up only for resale purposes because software sales have been quite a low number. So, current sales number is completely meaningless and we can see only the real demand is known after they are gone. A serious problem is that there isn't any software drives the PS5's market and it isn't planned near future...



If you need something about Japanese market from the perspective of Japanese, please contact me.

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y-koron said:
Darwinianevolution said:

Right now, it's going to be interesting to see if Japan accepts the PS5, considering how Sony are focusing more and more on western tastes and preferences. Still, even if it becomes successful the Switch is going to stay as the de facto console over there, especially when Monster Hunter releases. It's going to be massive over there, probably reaching PSP levels of sales.

Yes, at now, PS5 is in the extremely difficult situation. It seems that quite a lot of shipments bought up only for resale purposes because software sales have been quite a low number. So, current sales number is completely meaningless and we can see only the real demand is known after they are gone. A serious problem is that there isn't any software drives the PS5's market and it isn't planned near future...

What are the big japan-centric PS5 titles scheduled to release this year, by the way?



You know it deserves the GOTY.

Come join The 2018 Obscure Game Monthly Review Thread.

Darwinianevolution said:
y-koron said:

Yes, at now, PS5 is in the extremely difficult situation. It seems that quite a lot of shipments bought up only for resale purposes because software sales have been quite a low number. So, current sales number is completely meaningless and we can see only the real demand is known after they are gone. A serious problem is that there isn't any software drives the PS5's market and it isn't planned near future...

What are the big japan-centric PS5 titles scheduled to release this year, by the way?

As a sure thing, Ported version of Yakuza: Like a Dragon, Nioh and Nioh 2... If Capcom want to gambling, Resident Evil Village?



If you need something about Japanese market from the perspective of Japanese, please contact me.

y-koron said:
Darwinianevolution said:

What are the big japan-centric PS5 titles scheduled to release this year, by the way?

As a sure thing, Ported version of Yakuza: Like a Dragon, Nioh and Nioh 2... If Capcom want to gambling, Resident Evil Village?

So crossgen releases? I'm still surprised the PS5 is having the same problem the PS4's launch had (most launch games being released on the previous machine too with little to no difference in performance), but noone is really talking about it, at the very least on the same extent it was talked about years ago.



You know it deserves the GOTY.

Come join The 2018 Obscure Game Monthly Review Thread.

Darwinianevolution said:
y-koron said:

As a sure thing, Ported version of Yakuza: Like a Dragon, Nioh and Nioh 2... If Capcom want to gambling, Resident Evil Village?

So crossgen releases? I'm still surprised the PS5 is having the same problem the PS4's launch had (most launch games being released on the previous machine too with little to no difference in performance), but noone is really talking about it, at the very least on the same extent it was talked about years ago.

No, big releases aren't planned this year for PS4, too. And not a big surprise that PS5 suffers lack of software. SIE doesn't have enough development capacity and franchises that can support the launch of their hardware.



If you need something about Japanese market from the perspective of Japanese, please contact me.

y-koron said:
Darwinianevolution said:

So crossgen releases? I'm still surprised the PS5 is having the same problem the PS4's launch had (most launch games being released on the previous machine too with little to no difference in performance), but noone is really talking about it, at the very least on the same extent it was talked about years ago.

No, big releases aren't planned this year for PS4, too. And not a big surprise that PS5 suffers lack of software. SIE doesn't have enough development capacity and franchises that can support the launch of their hardware.

That's the thing, though. You'd think having a very light lineup with barely any 1st party would have made people mad, but I don't stop hearing about how great the PS5 launch was, and it's puzzling. The XBOne X seems to have the same problem as well, and likewise I keep hearing about how great its launch was. What was different between the PS4/XBOne launch and this ones?



You know it deserves the GOTY.

Come join The 2018 Obscure Game Monthly Review Thread.