Pokemon tops 2012 software chart in Japan

Nintendo platforms dominate, PlayStation Vita absent from the top 30 best-selling games

Nintendo platforms dominated software sales in Japan last year, while Sony's PlayStation Vita failed to register a single entry in the 30 best-selling games of 2012.

According to a report on Siliconera, based on data from 4Gamer, the number one game in Japan in 2012 was Pokemon Black/White 2 on the DS, which sold 2.9 million units. The 3DS was the dominant platform overall, with 5 of the top 10 games and half of the top 30.

Sony's platforms were less successful, representing 8 of the top 30 games versus Nintendo's 22. The most popular PlayStation 3 release was Capcom's Resident Evil 6, which sold 833,000 units - the 5th best-selling game overall.

However, in its first full year on-sale in the country the PlayStation Vita did not register in the top 30 best-selling games, despite the lowest placed game, Resident Evil: Revelations, only selling 296,040.

The top 20 best-selling games are listed below.

  • 1. Pokemon Black/White 2 - 2,919,977 [DS]
  • 2. Animal Crossing: New Leaf - 1,969,955 [3DS]
  • 3. New Super Mario Bros. 2 - 1,743,791 [3DS]
  • 4. Dragon Quest Monsters: Terry's Wonderland 3D - 919,870 [3DS]
  • 5. Resident Evil 6 - 833,012 [PS3]
  • 6. One Piece: Pirate Warriors - 828,150 [PS3]
  • 7. Mario Kart 7 - 748,797 [3DS]
  • 8. Super Mario Party 3D Land - 689,374 [3DS]
  • 9. Mario Party 9 - 641,348 [Wii]
  • 10. Dragon Quest X - 609,783 [Wii]
  • 11. Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate - 602,058 [3DS]
  • 12. Yakuza 5 - 518,224 [PS3]
  • 13. Dragon's Dogma - 467,375 [PS3]
  • 14. Fire Emblem: Awakening - 455,268 [3DS]
  • 15. Tales of Xillia 2 - 428,913 [PS3]
  • 16. Paper Mario: Sticker Star - 402,133 [3DS]
  • 17. Pro Evolution Soccer 2013 - 399,340 [PS3]
  • 18. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates of Infinity - 373,699 [3DS]
  • 19. New Super Mario Bros. U - 369,392 [WiiU]
  • 20. Wii Sports Resort - 358,627 [Wii]

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Latest comments (6)

John Bye Lead Designer, Freejam7 years ago
People bemoan the number of sequels dominating charts in the west, but holy hell, that list is depressing. Of the top 20, I only see one new IP (Dragon's Dogma), but six Mario games, most of which are themselves sequels to long lines of past games (Paper 4, Kart 7, Party 9, Super Mario 11 and 12, effectively). Then there's Pokemon 12, Fire Emblem 11, Dragon Quest 10, Resident Evil 6, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon 5, Yakuza 5, Animal Crossing 4...

And most of those series have also seen numerous spin-offs and "Super Turbo Advance Plus G" style re-releases. Pokemon, for example, has had almost 40 games released since 1996, not counting Nintendo's habit of releasing two versions of each of the core games simultaneously with only slightly different line-ups of pokemon to distinguish them (which would take the total closer to 50).

These developers obviously have a formula that works, so you can't fault them for continuing to print money by iterating on that formula over and over again, year after year. The sales figures for Pokemon in particular are insane. But personally I think it's a shame that more original games and IPs aren't getting anywhere near that kind of success in Japan, and ultimately it's likely to hurt their industry if they can't come up with breakout new hits to supplement the (sometimes very) old franchises that are their bread and butter.
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Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd7 years ago
I'd rather be in a country with this top 30 list than in America, John. Sadly my homeland's top 20 is full of gorey shooters and action games and annual sports games, with the occasional Nintendo game thrown in.

Heck if you consider 2D and 3D Mario games to be the same, we might as well lump all shooters into one megafranchise. They play more alike than those Mario games do, and are certainly no more creative.
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John Bye Lead Designer, Freejam7 years ago
The Mario sub-series are mostly very different from each other in terms of gameplay, despite featuring the same characters, visual style (usually) and (in many cases) even sharing art assets. I didn't suggest otherwise. But that's one character taking up a third of the annual top 20 sales chart in Japan.

There's really no equivalent in the west. It's like if Microsoft had taken Master Chief as their Xbox mascot after the success of Halo, and started releasing a constant stream of Halo FPS, RTS and role-playing games, Warthog racing, Spartan NFL, Halo Kinect Party mini-game compilations and Master Chief fitness titles. Mario's an entire industry in his own right these days.

Also, within that mega-franchise, by my counting there have been, for example, a dozen essentially 2D side scrolling platform games in the Super Mario series to date, with varying levels of innovation, plus numerous similar spin-offs and remakes. Mario Kart is on its seventh iteration now, constantly recycling many of its tracks, characters, karts and power-ups from past versions.

I'm not saying the equivalent list for the US or UK would look any better, I'm sure it isn't, but it's sad to see a handful of big old franchises dominating the charts in any region to that extent, especially when sales are so concentrated at the top end of the chart (and visibly so, in this case, as the Japanese charts actually include sales estimates, unlike western charts).

Edited 1 times. Last edit by John Bye on 28th January 2013 4:48pm

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Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd7 years ago
@ John Basically everything you just said is true, but I still don't see why you singled out Japan for a sequelitis/innovation problem, when, as I pointed out, the West just latches on to a bunch of samey shooters, racers, and sports games (plus the same Nintendo games). While that list is largely dominated by Nintendo, the actual genre variety in it is much better than the US top 20.
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John Bye Lead Designer, Freejam7 years ago
I only singled out Japan because this story is about their chart. I think we pretty much agree here, the charts are largely dominated by sequels and big franchises in most regions. The US chart, for example, includes lots of titles like Madden (which has been going for decades), Call of Duty (several instalments in already), Assassin's Creed (AC3 is actually AC5) and Halo (4 core titles, 2 side stories and an RTS spin-off to date).
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Daniel Hughes Studying PhD Literary Modernism, Bangor University7 years ago
@ John

I completely agree it would be great to see more new franchises there, but I don't think so many Mario titles is a bad thing. I'd be more worried if one particular type of genre dominated the sales than anything else. As it is, Mario spreads across racing, platforming, RPGs, sports games, party games, and so on. There's no Western equivalent because no Western studio has created someone that is as archetypal and as malleable as Mario. Sure, at times it makes me sad to see the brand so widespread--I'd love to see Nintendo's other franchises gain more mainstream recognition--but I don't think it's a terrible thing because Mario and the universe associated with it have innovated and refined a number of genres, and in the case of kart racing and platforming, they've invented and continually redefined those genres. The latest Kart release for example, is perhaps the strongest since the original on the SNES and the two Mario Galaxy games are some of the most inventive releases of recent years. So long as titles like Mario Kart appear once per system, I don't think that's a bad thing.

I mean, if we take the most popular Western franchise, Call of Duty, there have been 18 releases in the 9 and a bit years since it started, with those titles launching on virtually every major platform since 2005. Now, I don't doubt there will have been as many, if not more, Mario branded releases in the same time frame, but the key point for me, is that at least those Mario branded titles operate across a variety of genres. We're talking 18 first person shooters from one franchise in 9 and a bit years here. To me, that's more worrying than the number of Mario releases, because it naturally means a narrower number of game designs and conventions make it to market.

All that being said, I agree with your broader point. It would be great, both in the West and Japan, to see a quality new console IP on the yearly best sellers list. It saddens me quality Japanese (new) IP like Xenoblade Chronicles haven't achieved more mainstream success, even if it did gain strong critical support. It's also a huge shame original 3DS titles like Fantasy Life and Bravely Default (which I believe may have placed in the top 30?) aren't in the top 20 and aren't yet on course for a Western release, while entries from established franchises like Castlevania and Monster Hunter are. Hopefully Nintendo and the developers of those games will splash some cash helping original Japanese IP reach a broader Western audience. I'd particularly like to see Wonderful 101 on Japan's best selling list this time next year.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Daniel Hughes on 29th January 2013 11:58am

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