When Media Create reported its top-20 sales chart back on Wednesday, some were surprised by the performance of Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands, that not only debuted in first place for PS4 for last week, but soundly beat a Kingdom Hearts title (even if it was a remaster), and contributed to push The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild to the bottom step of the podium on its second week on the shelves.
Today, Media Create posted its full top-50 and weekly analysis, giving us more color on what happened with Ghost Recon‘s quite flattering performance.
According to the statistics firm, the open beta test was appreciated by Japanese gamers, and that “sharply increased” pre-orders, in turn contributing to selling 89, 791, copies, corresponding to 91.52% of the initial shipment. That’s a near sell-out situation that’s quite impressive for a western game in Japan.
On top of that, we also learn that Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands also dominated PS4 downloads in the country last week, meaning that the actual sales numbers are considerably higher than those reported by Media Create, that counts only retail sales.
While Media Create doesn’t mention it, there is probably another factor in play: in the past few years Ubisoft seems to have recognized the potential of the Japanese market, that often remains untapped among western developers. As a result, they’re doing what a lot of North American and European publishers haven’t quite attempted: they allocated an actual serious marketing budget to try to “colonize” the home turf of Japanese gaming.
Interestingly, they’re also handling publishing directly, while many other western developers let local companies take care of publishing and promotion in Japan.
Below you can see a picture of Akihabara, Tokyo, which I took during my latest visit just before the launch of For Honor. Seeing a giant ad for a western game on the iconic Sofmap Amusement Kan billboard, which is normally reserved to Japanese games, was quite an intriguing signal.
In the same vein, Ubisoft appears to have made a point to ramp up promotion for its games in the country, both on social media and on traditional media, with magazine ads, commercials and articles. As a result, For Honor also debuted first in its launch week, while it didn’t sell as much as Ghost Recon, that was also helped by its open world nature.
This is also another interesting signal: in the past few years, Japanese gamers have been increasingly appreciative of open world games, and Ubisoft has made the genre one of its focus areas.