Riot breaks out at Tokyo shop selling PS5s forcing staff to retreat
A Tokyo shop’s attempt to sell PS5 consoles has ended in chaos, with a witness saying, ‘I’ve never seen that
kind of insanity in Japan before’.
There’s been a lot of talk lately, of how demand for the PlayStation 5 in Japan has been disappointingly low,
and how Sony is thought to be disengaging from the Japanese games industry,
but you’d never guess anything was wrong if you were trying to buy a console in Tokyo on Saturday.
Or rather you would know something was wrong, just not anything related to apathy for the PlayStation brand.
According to local reports, as translated by PSU, a Tokyo shop attempt to sell a few hundred’ PlayStation 5
consoles ended in disaster, with shop tills being knocked over and staff having to be evacuated.
Apart from anything else, Japan has just extended a state of emergency due to the coronavirus,
but that didn’t stop anyone trying to buy a PlayStation 5 from Yodobashi Camera in Akihabara –
one of the biggest electronics stores in the country. Huge crowds flocked to the store because they’d,
unwisely, announced they were selling the consoles on a first-come, first-served basis instead of via a lottery,
as has become standard in Japan.
When things got out of hand the police were called and the crowd dispersed,
with the consoles apparently going unsold. Dave Gibson, who works at Pokémon developer Game Freak
as an interface designer, was present and posted tweets where he revealed that, ‘They canceled the sale due
to people being insane!’
Gibson estimated that around 70% of the crowd were scalpers rather than ordinary fans,
with resellers already having been blamed for ensuring what little stock there is in Japan is only sold
at inflated prices via the Japanese equivalent of eBay.
PlayStation 5 lifetime sales in Japan (where weekly hardware numbers are released as a matter of course)
stand at just 301,622 – well below the PlayStation 4 at the same point in its life.
So far this year Sony’s console has sold only 46,472 consoles, compared to 761,219 for the Nintendo Switch and,
err… 827 for the Xbox Series X and S. Clearly stock is an issue, but demand is difficult to discern as the software
attach rate (the number of games everyone buys per console) is also very low, which is put down to a
combination of scalpers buying the consoles and a lack of titles from Japanese developers. Although the figure
only takes into account physical sales, the rise of digital making the situation even harder to ascertain.