Sony (SNE) has had a good month: In March, the PS3 beat Nintendo’s (NTDOY) Wii in Japanese sales for the first time in 16 months. It’s the games that did it, of course: Japanese gamers wanted to play Sega’s PS3-exclusive Yakuza 3, a game unlikely to see release outside of Japan.
Nintendo President Satoru Iwata seems spooked, saying the Wii is “not vigorous at the moment in Japan.” But Satoru is promising a Wii comeback when his own blockbuster, Wii Sports Resort, hits Japanese shelves in June. (Global release planned for July.)
He’s right to expect a Wii spike this summer. The first Wii Sports game is an iconic classic, with over 44 million units shipped. Even in Japan, where the game isn’t bundled with a new Wii purchase, the game has sold a whopping 3.5 million copies. And like its predecessor, the new Wii Sports game is tailored to casual, pick-up-and-play gamers, a market that’s proven far larger than so-called “hardcore” players. Game segments include throwing a Frisbee to a virtual dog, or “fencing” with another gamer via the Wii’s wand-like handheld controllers.
Meanwhile Sony doesn’t have much else that’s exclusive and exciting in the pipeline. In February the company already fired one of its big guns, the PS3-exclusive Killzone 2. Now Sony is hyping the first-party PS3-exclusive God of War 3, due out later this year. Interest is high, but it’s uncertain how many console sales GoW 3 will generate. GoW 2 only sold a solid but not earth-shaking 2.5 million copies worldwide.