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DS leads massive resurgence for Japanese market in '06

Figures for the Japanese videogame market released by market researchers Enterbrain in the latest Weekly Famitsu magazine reveal that the game hardware and software sectors are both experiencing a massive upswing in the country.

Covering the first six months of 2006, the figures reveal that the success of Nintendo's DS and DS Lite handhelds has lifted the entire business in Japan out of the slump into which it had been settling in recent years.

Total software sales topped 36 million units in the first half, up over 50 per cent from the same period in 2005, while sales of hardware were over 6.2 million units - up around 44 per cent year on year.

The startling growth of the Japanese market comes at a time when the videogames sector in Europe and North America is struggling through a transition period - although so far this year the western territories have also outperformed pessimistic market outlooks.

However, Japan's success is almost entirely down to the Nintendo DS - with 4 million of those 6.2 million hardware units being DS or DS Lite consoles, representing a massive 63 per cent share of the hardware market.

By contrast, the PSP has 16 per cent of the market - down from market share of over a quarter in the first half of 2005 - and the PS2 has just shy of 15 per cent, down from just under 30 per cent last year.

In software, the divide is even more apparent; not a single PSP game makes it into the top ten titles for the first half, with the DS dominating the rankings. Seven of the top ten titles are DS games, including the number one title, More Brain Training for Adults (Brain Age 2), which sold 2.5 million units; the remaining three are PS2 games, with the top-ranked being Final Fantasy XII, at number two with 2.3 million unit sales.

As yet, the DS shows no sign of slowing down - it continues to sell incredibly strongly week on week, having been given a huge shot in the arm by the launch of DS Lite in the middle of the first half. While Famitsu clearly believes that the second half of the year will be dominated by the launches of Wii and PS3, and their battle with the Xbox 360 (whose market share in the first half hovered around an underwhelming one per cent), it remains to be seen whether even the new console launches can displace the new champion of the Japanese industry.

Famitsu via GameSpot

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Rob Fahey avatar
Rob Fahey: Rob Fahey is a former editor of who spent several years living in Japan and probably still has a mint condition Dreamcast Samba de Amigo set.