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Game sales fall in Japan – analysts predict the same treatment in Britain and US by January

The autumn season has not been kind to the gaming world, seeing the sales of both consoles and games plunging into the depths.  When you’re being told by the gaming industry that it is boastfully slump-proof, it does come as quite a shock.

This upset in the market is originating in Japan, yet while other countries are maintaining their strong hold over the gaming population concerns are quickly growing and people are standing by and wondering whether this downturn is a reflection of the economic unrest.

Industry veterans have given cause for concern by posting warnings that a host of new games, ready to explode onto our consoles that normally set the Japanese market alight, are looking a bit feeble from where they stand.

To put it into numbers, between the first half of the fiscal year from April to early October, combined hardware and game sales in Japan have dropped by a significant 21 per cent.  If you compare these figures with the same time period of 2007, Nintendo’s sales figures for the legendary DS have plummeted by almost two-thirds in the same amount of time.

However, Sony has reaped the benefits from this vulnerability in the market, gaining strong sales of its handheld gaming prodigy, the PSP.

Hiroshi Kamide, of KBC Securities in Tokyo, said, “The Japanese market for casual gaming has matured before those in the United States and Europe, but the same will happen there, too.

“Nintendo will never say it, but casual gamers, almost by definition, are happy with just a few games and will easily cut gaming out of their discretionary spending as the downturn hits their wallets. The market seems to be expecting casual gamers to act like hardcore gamers and they just won’t.”

Handheld gaming has already taken a turn for the worst here in Britain, and although predictions are being made that the Nintendo Wii will sell faster than hotcakes before Christmas due to families wanting to stay at home and be entertained, sales of the games will not be such hot news after January.  Still, sales here in Britain and over the pond in the United States show that we have little to worry about compared to our gaming lover friends over in Japan, and speculation is being raised here as to whether the Western countries will fight against this slump.

Hirotoshi Murakami, an analyst at Mitsubishi UFJ Securities said in a not to clients last week that 8 per cent growth rates between July and August in the American games market was confirmation that the connection between the economic situation and the gaming market is a weak one that cannot be trusted.

The harsh drop in sales in the Japanese gaming market corresponds with the country’s recent steady fall into recession over the summer months.  However, those Western countries that feel they are averting the slump in the gaming market may be due for a bit of a wake up call as analysts believe that their slump has just been delayed and will hit soon.  Are you planning on buying fewer games over the next few months?  Are they a priority or a luxury?  It will definitely be interesting to watch over the next few months and see what direction the industry goes.

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