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How Deeply Did the Earthquake Affect the Game Industry?

Enterbrain CEO shows how March hardware and software sales were hit following Tohoku disaster.

 

If you were keeping up with gaming in the aftermath of the March 11 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, you'll probably recall the rush of delay and cancellation announcements. Things appear to be getting back to normal as many of the delayed games now have new final release dates, but the game industry did take a major fiscal hit from the disaster.

Enterbrain CEO Hirokazu Hamamura shared the following slide (posted at Famitsu.com) at the latest installment of his semi annual game industry seminars, which was held on Friday in Tokyo.

The chart shows the scale of the game market in the weeks prior to and after the earthquake. The left-most week is week four of February, followed by the first, second, third and fourth weeks of March. The vertical axis is in units of 100 million yen.

For the first two weeks, showing before the earthquake, blue represents hardware sales and magenta represents software sales.

Starting in the second week of March, the chart shows pink and baby blue regions. These represent, respectively, hardware and software sales that were lost due to the earthquake. These are, of course, Enterbrain's estimates.

In terms of specific numbers, as provided at Sankei News, the domestic market saw a total effect of 7,330 million yen, split 2,860 million for hardware and 4,470 million for software.

The reasons for the lost sales, explained Hamamura, were the delays of major titles like Yakuza of the End, Steel Diver and Dead or Alive Dimensions beyond their March dates. A total of 31 titles were either delayed or cancelled.

Many of the delayed titles were major year end releases for publishes, so we'll likely hear more about this topic during earnings announcements in the coming weeks. (Nintendo's earnings announcement is due for the 25th).

Hamamura made particular mention of the 3DS, which was released on February 26. He believes that the earthquake is the reason for the system's poor performance compared with the original DS (3DS first month sales were 746,000 units, compared to 1,105,000 units for the DS). Due to the earthquake, Nintendo lost sales opportunities in East Japan. Additionally, Nintendo and its third parties delayed titles and held back on what was to be a sizable promotional campaign.

Hamamura ended his discussion of the earthquake on a positive note. The game industry has a good chance of recovering quickly, he said. The reason, he explained, is because of those very delays. Many of the delayed titles have been rescheduled for April, May or June, meaning a concentration of major titles in the first half of the new fiscal year.

Hamamura noted that there's data indicating that in the aftermath of disasters, the movie industry sees a 120 to 140 percent expansion. The reason for this may be that there is a need for quick and simple entertainment.

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