Well, I never bought into the myth, that Japan is or becomes irrelevant for gaming. It isn't. PC and Xbox isn't doing too hot there, but for everything else Japan is the biggest or second-biggest market. I personally also think (and thought back then) that launching the PS4 later in Japan was wrong and hurting Sony.
and yet USA is 4 times as important as Japan for Sony and Europe (with a similar taste in gaming) is 5 times as important as Japan for Sony.
18.6% of PS1 sales came from Japan
14.7% of PS2 sales came from Japan
12% of PS3 sales came from Japan
8.3% of PS4 sales come from Japan
Japan IS getting more irrelevant each year. Though that doesn't mean that it is irrelevant at the moment,
You put together europe as others do, that is a problem. As country Japan is still second-biggest, as shown in the OP. Sony does work very hard to reach into the different european countries and rest of the world. As a result they have more than the other two sales in these regions. But it is a hard investment, that Sony can do more easy, because they not only sell consoles and games if they establish a representation in a new country.
As they reach more and more around the world, the main markets lose traction. Look at North America for instance:
37.3% of PS1 sales came from NA
34.0% of PS2 sales came from NA
33.8% of PS3 sales came from NA
33.7% pf PS4 sales came from NA
Well, the decline slowed down. That is partly because the impact of the decline for PS4 is taken by Japan. This has to do with Sony focussing away from Japan: later release of PS4 and less japanese games. As I said before I think this is wrong. At the same time:
24.7% of PSP sales came from Japan and 26.4% from NA
35.8% of Vita sales came from Japan and 16.1% came from NA
Yes, there is a move towards mobile gaming devices in Japan, and away from it in the US. Sony isn't capitalizing on that.
I also talked about overall performance of the japanese market, and while the market tended to different consoles than the rest of the world. If we look at the market movement per gen in Japan:
PS1+N64+Saturn+GB: 23.8% of the market was Japan and 39.3% was NA
PS2+GC+DC+XBox+GBA: 15.9% of the market was Japan and 42.9% was NA
Wii+PS3+X360+DS+PSP: 15.2% of the market was Japan and 39.7% was NA
PS4+XB1+WiiU+3DS+Vita: 19.4% of the market was Japan and 36.8% was NA
So, you can see that not only Japan as a market is no longer in decline, it recovers in importance. Early on the globalization of gaming wasn't that advanced, from PS1 to PS2 especially Sony advanced into new markets and with MS a non-japanese company joined the competition, that explains the early relative decline of the early major markets.
You can see on the other hand NA was still not exhausted completely in the PS1-era, but after PS2 it lost importance with more and more moves into global markets. Well, obviously NA is still bigger, but no one ever doubted NA to be the biggest gaming market, at least console-wise (if we include PC the image changes).
So, why the importance of Japan moves for Sony in a different direction than it does overall? Well, because Sony decided to focus away from Japan. It is their own fault.
EDIT: By the way, Sony seems to have realized their fault. With DQ XI and Monster Hunter World they make pushes to win back Japan. And I think that'll work. I can see that towards the end of this gen the share of PS4 sold in Japan will be back around 10% and if Sony isn't so stupid to do that again next gen the PS5 will sold around 12-14% in Japan, like PS2 and PS3 did.
Last edited by Mnementh - on 30 November 2017