Brighter future seen for gaming industry


Although Japan’s video game market shrank 10.5 percent in the fiscal first half, the second half is looking brighter amid updates to popular software titles and price cuts for major consoles, market researcher Enterbrain Inc. said Friday.

In the six months to September, hardware sales fell 15.1 percent and software sales dropped 7.5 percent compared with the same period last year.

Hirokazu Hamamura, president of Tokyo-based Enterbrain, said at a seminar for the media that a key factor in the decline has been weak sales of two game consoles — Nintendo Co.’s Wii and Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.’s PlayStation Portable.

“(Unit sales for the Wii) struggled because there wasn’t any release of major software titles. I think this explains everything,” said Hamamura, adding that the PSP is in the same situation but appears to be faring worse than the Wii.

Unit sales are down about 50 percent for both products, Enterbrain said.

Hamamura, however, said he is more optimistic about the second half because he saw the size of the market grow on a year-on-year basis in July — the first growth in 20 months. The market has been in good shape ever since, he said.

The recovery was triggered by the July debut of “Dragon Quest 9,” the newest and arguably most popular role-playing game in Japan. About 3.9 million units of the latest installment have been sold so far for the Nintendo DS.

Recent price cuts to the major gaming consoles are boosting unit sales and seen as a positive factor ahead of the yearend and New Year shopping season.

In addition, more popular software titles are expected to be released in the second half of fiscal 2009.