The latest issue of Famitsu magazine featured an article on predictions for the Japanese market for 2008.
First, let's check out cumulative hardware sales for the platforms in Japan. They are (as of December 23, 2007) as follows:
DS - 20,916,560 units
PSP - 7,377,329 units
Wii - 4,456,959 units
PS3 - 1,623,671 units
Xbox 360 - 539,143 units
With the DS sales over 20 million units and PSP sales reaching the 7 million mark, the market in the land of the rising sun seems to have shifted from the traditional consoles to handhelds. Ritsumeikan University professor Akinori Nakamura says that may not necessarily be the case. "This year onwards, big anticipated titles will finally make its way to consoles. This should steal the limelight away from handhelds." Game journalist Kiyoshi Shin also agrees by adding, "Hardware will continue to sell, and sales base for consoles will probably be higher than those of handhelds."
Regarding market share, JP Morgan senior analyst Eiji Maeda believes that, "Wii is still going strong with the popularity of Wii Fit. The software also has high expectations in North America." Shin also adds, "The market will probably be lead by the Wii. But there is a concern whether third parties are able to deliver big titles."
As for the PS3, Nakamura believes "Sales of Metal Gear Solid 4 will be a major key. How the market will react to the new generation of games will influence future software development." The Olympic year is a big year for a surge in sales of televisions in Japan. With this in mind, Shin believes that the demand for HDTV will possibly be a positive factor for consumers to pick up a PS3. Finally, Maeda brings up quite the ideal scenario for consumers: "a new model featuring the 40GB price point but with PS2 backwards compatibility and Dual Shock 3 packed in."
As for software, most retailers have high expectations on Dragon Quest IX for the DS, Monster Hunter 3 and Super Smash Brothers Brawl for the Wii, and Monster Hunter Portable 2G for the PSP. While they are all safe bets, choices for PS3 seem to rely on popular franchises such as Final Fantasy XIII, Metal Gear Solid 4 and Resident Evil 5, all of which have release dates that are still uncertain. On the opposite side of the spectrum, their choices for Xbox 360 almost seems like a mockery, naming niche titles such as Idol Master Live For You and the first 360 love simulation game Clannad. At least they bothered to mention more familiar titles like Bioshock and Ninja Gaiden II as possibilities.