Japanese console market spikes for the first time in 11 years

Nintendo Switch and PS4 drive hardware sales up 73% year on year

2017 saw a much-needed surge of sales in the Japanese console market.

Famitsu, via Kotaku, reports that both hardware and software sales increased year-on-year - making last year the first time the region has seen growth since 2006.

Hardware sales saw the biggest boost, up from ¥11.07bn ($1.05bn) in 2016 to ¥202.37 ($1.81bn) in 2017 - an increase of 73%.

While software sales didn't enjoy as much of a surge, there was still a 4% increase when compared to the previous year. Japanese consumers spent ¥189.3bn ($1.69m) on video games last year, compared to ¥182.4bn ($1.63bn) the year before.

It will come as no surprise that the Nintendo Switch was a key driver in this growth, having sold 3.3m units in its home market by the end of the year. PlayStation 4 is also believed to have contributed significantly, leading this generation with 73.6m unit sales worldwide.

The console market almost always receives its biggest boosts from hardware. Japan's previous growth in 2006 was primarily down to three console launches: the PS3, DS Lite and the original Wii.

Whether or not Japan can enjoy a second year of growth depends largely on the software line-up for PS4 and Switch, as Xbox has minimal presence in the region.

While Sony has some heavy-hitters on the way such as God of War, Spider-Man and The Last of Us: Part II, Nintendo has remained largely quiet on its 2018 line-up. The promise of a Pokémon RPG for Switch could be a significant sales driver.

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