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Japan's gaming market sinks 16 percent in first half

New software didn't make a splash and hardware sales fell

Japan's console and portable gaming market sank 16 percent in the first six months of the year as new software failed to make a splash and sales of hardware fell, according to data released on Thursday.

The entire market was worth ¥192 billion (US$2.4 billion), down from ¥228 billion in the equivalent period of 2010, said Japanese publisher Enterbrain, which tracks the gaming market.

During the six-month period, sales of software dropped just over 20 percent and the industry failed to release a single game that sold more than a million units, which is typically the sign of a hit game in Japan. Last year, four games sold more than a million copies each during the first half.

The best-selling game of the half this year was Capcom's "Monster Hunter Portable 3rd," which sold 968,269 copies. The software launched on Dec. 1 last year and racked up sales of more than 3 million copies in the few weeks before 2011 began.

The number two game of the first half and the best-selling new game of the period was "Dragon Quest Monsters Joker 2 Professional" from Square Enix, which launched on March 31 and sold 469,469 copies, said Enterbrain.

On the hardware side the Nintendo 3DS, which launched on Feb. 26 in Japan, was the best-selling device. Nintendo sold 1.15 million of the handheld gadgets during the first half.

It was closely followed by Sony's PlayStation Portable, which sold 1.08 million units. Sony launched the device in 2004, but managed to energize first half sales with a price cut that saw the PSP reduced to ¥16,800.

Overall hardware sales fell 9 percent to ¥80 billion.

For the entire year, the game market should be buoyed by several major releases due before 2011 ends. Nintendo plans to release new versions of its "Super Mario" and "Mario Cart" games, and Sony is planning to launch the PlayStation Vita, its first new portable gaming device since the PSPgo was released in 2009.

Japan first half 2011 software sales ranking (Source: Enterbrain):

1, Monster Hunter Portable 3rd, Capcom, 968,269 copies sold

2, Dragon Quest Monsters Joker 2 Professional, Square Enix, 469,469 copies sold

3, Dissidia Duo Decim Final Fantasy, Square Enix, 454,522 copies sold

4, Shin Sangoku Musou 6, Koei Tecmo, 443,873 copies sold

5, Ryu ga Gotoku Of The End, Sega, 376,193 copies sold

Japan first half 2011 hardware ranking (Source: Enterbrain):

1, Nintendo 3DS, 1.15 million units sold

2, PlayStation Portable, 1.08 million units sold

3, PlayStation 3, 621,048 units sold

4, Nintendo DS, 614,927 units sold

5, Nintendo Wii, 413,091 units sold

6, Xbox 360, 68,724 units sold

Martyn Williams covers Japan and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com


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