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Conspiracy time – is Japan about to go PS3 crazy and what is going on over at CyberConnect2?

Submitted by on Tuesday, 13 January 200911 Comments

2005_akihabara_main_streetSometimes the complex threads of the gaming news spectrum interweave with one another and an inferred (though, admittedly, completely speculative) vision takes shape from the numerous truths, hints and hypotheses presented.

Let’s look at the facts first. Shirokishi Monogatari (White Knight Chronicles) has helped shift more than 110,000 PS3s in Japan over the last couple of weeks. This is a stellar number if we consider that Snake’s swan-song in MGS4 didn’t help the PS3 break the 100K sales barrier in the same time period and Famitsu practically gave Level 5’s new RPG a “meh” rating of 29/40.

Is this the start of a new regime in Japan for the PS3? Check after the jump for some “evidence”.

So, Japan are finally buying the PS3 by the bucket load and it took a new RPG for them to bite. Who’d have thought? That said, sales of Valkyria Chronicles and Disgaea 3 did not set the sales charts alight when they came out. Does this mean that the distinctive aesthetic of Sega’s war-themed game or Disgaea’s flagrantly non-next gen visuals were simply just ignored by the Japanese RPGing public in favour of a more “grander” RPG they so craved? Does this suggest that sales in Disgaea 3 and Valkyria Chronicles will see a late surge now that more RPG loving fans have access to the new technology? It will definitely be interesting to keep an eye on the figures over the coming weeks to see if this ensuant bump in sales of games similar to Shirokishi Monogatari occurs.

Though the above suggests that the PS3 has enjoyed a favourable (albeit short) run in its homeland, if we consider the release schedule in Japan over the next few months a pattern begins to emerge. Taking into account the imminent titles coming Japan’s way, we believe that this recent sales uptake in Sony’s console will continue to stay high.

You may not know this (considering it kinda shocked us a little when realised if we’re being honest) but Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm (known as Naruto: Narutimate Storm in the East) gets released this Friday in Japan. We all know how much the Japanese are Naruto Nutsâ„¢, and with the high production values found in the orange ninja’s latest outing, and when you add Famitsu’s favourable review scores (9/9/9/8 or 35/40) to the equation, we’re predicting another good week for the PS3 in Japan.

Other big games previously released here in the West also find themselves finally emerging into the Japanese sunlight this week like Tomb Raider, Fallout 3 and Prince of Persia. Given, these franchises don’t traditionally invoke riots in Shinjuku, but if there’s one thing we have noticed over the last year it’s that Japanese gaming tastes have changed somewhat this generation so don’t be surprised to see these titles perform moderately well upon their respective releases.

But how long will this trend continue before the Japanese return to their PS2s? February sees the release of Sony’s Demon’s Souls, Capcom’s Street Fighter IV and Sega’s Ryu Ga Gotoku 3 (Yakuza 3). Apart from SFIV, these games are exclusive to the PS3 and will sell like the hottest of all hot-cakes. Trust us. March, well, we all know what happens in March.

Taking into consideration the PS3’s strong line-up over the coming months, we’re thinking Japan may now start to finally break their dependency on the PS2. Of course, Sony must fill the gap in the RPG market and give our Eastern brethren what they want for this to happen. If the recent hardware sales surge caused by the Shirokishi Monogatari release is anything to go by it should be proof enough to Sony that Japan do indeed want to embrace the PS3 over its predecessor. They’re just not going to do so until they’re given good reason.

Then there’s CyberConnect2, the studio who made the aforementioned Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm. If you visit here you’ll notice that there’s a countdown silently decreasing to some sort of big reveal. Or is it simply the clock running down to the impending Naruto release? If it is an announcement of some merit (and not just “Hey! We have a new Naruto game!”) will it contribute to the PS3’s improved performance in the region? We don’t know but we’re sure to find out soon.