In June, after nearly six years on store shelves, Microsoft finally managed to crack the 1.5 million unit milestone for the Xbox 360 in Japan. To put that number into perspective, the 3DS just hit 1.5 million units sold after just six months ... and the 3DS is considered to be selling so poorly that Nintendo's CEO took a 50% pay cut. So it's not surprising to read Edge's report that Japanese retailers are finally giving up on the Xbox.
Edge cites Media Create data which puts Microsoft's year-to-date 360 sales in Japan at 46.7% lower than they were at the same period last year. Adding insult to that sales injury is the fact that the 360's last "high-profile Japanese exclusive" Idolmaster 2 will be ported to the PlayStation 3. Edge reports that "Geo, the nation's largest specialist retailer, is drastically scaling back its Xbox 360 business" while "staff at electronics retailer Yamada Denki in Ikebukuro, Tokyo, confirmed that the company is removing hardware and software from the majority of its stores nationwide."
Of course, Xbox 360 systems and games will still be available online, and Edge writes, "it is our understanding that Amazon now handles a substantial proportion of Japanese Xbox 360 software sales." But without a solid retail presence for the Xbox 360, Microsoft may have a difficult time finding shelf space for its next console, expected to be released in the next several years. Even without retail support, don't expect to see Microsoft abandon the strategic Japanese market. As long as Sony, Nintendo, and Japanese publishers exist, Microsoft will work to gain traction in that market.