The Tokyo Game Show is just over a month away and already the battle in this part of the world is hotting up. Suddenly Microsoft Japan seems to be making a real go of things ? I wonder if something has been put into the tea they?re drinking at MS Japan HQ? As well as price cuts for the Standard, Elite and Arcade models of the 360, there?s a new 60GB hardware bundle due here on September 11th
. At 29,800yen ? about £150 ? it?s probably the best buy of the lot. Microsoft even has the games Japan wants ? Tales of Vesperia
last month, Inifinite Undiscovery
this month? it?s almost as though Microsoft is trying to be a contender in Japan.
The only thing Sony is shouting about at the moment is Afrika
. I bought my copy of the game last Thursday, the day of its release. The shop I bought it from was Tsutaya, Japan?s version of Blockbuster Video. I asked the girl behind the counter if they?d sold many copies of Afrika
, but it turned out I was the first person to buy a copy ? and I hadn?t got to the store till 4pm.
They?d received ten copies that morning, but even after I left there were nine still remaining. As I write this, sales stats aren?t in from Media Create yet, but if my experience is any indication, Afrika
probably isn?t top of the charts. And that?s in spite of some pretty heavy TV advertising in the fortnight leading up to its launch.
As for the game itself, it?s certainly a change from the norm but it?s not much of a ?gamers? game? ? it?s a bit like a next-gen Pokemon Snap
, but without so many weird creatures. Probably if it was a Wii game and Nintendo had been responsible for marketing it, Afrika
would have gone on to sell two million copies. As a PS3 game marketed by Sony, I think it?ll fade into obscurity by the end of the month.
Second Hand Daylight
Time for a quick diversion from the new: a noble SPOnG reader wanted to hear about the state of the used game scene in Japan, so I?m going to oblige. In short, second-hand game sales appear to be huge in Japan. Even major, legitimate, not-at-all-shady retailers like Tsutaya and Sofmap openly sell and buy used videogames.
Some local Japanese developers I?ve spoken to blame Japan?s thriving used games market for disappointing sales figures in recent years, but I think this is a problem that?s always been here so I can?t quite see the logic there.
Anyway, there are a few quirks peculiar to the Japanese second-hand games market:
1. You can get up to around 85% of the price you paid for a new copy of a game when selling it back to the shop, depending on timing and the scarcity of new copies.
2. There?s no such thing as higher trade-in values over standard sell-it-back-to-the-shop transactions.
3. Used games are generally in such pristine condition that it can be difficult to tell which games are new and which are second-hand.
4. As part of the checkout ritual, larger game shops and electronics retailers sneak printed papers detailing the prices they will pay for all sorts of titles into the bag which holds your brand new purchase. All things considered, it?s easy to see why second-hand games are big business in Japan.