There have been worrying developments out of the land of the rising sun this week with the launch of Level-5’s gorgeous looking JRPG, Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, not only failing to capture top spot on the weekly software charts, but also losing out to Activision’s Western oriented shooter, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is the PlayStation 3 version of the Nintendo DS game Ni No Kuni: Shikkoku No Madoshi. It is the first game released by anime company Studio Ghibli. Level-5 confirms that there will be a western release some time in 2012.
In its first week on sale, Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch has only managed a mere 40% sell-through, shifting a scant 67,032 units, sufficient only to earn it the #3 position in weekly sales. The #2 position went to One Piece Giant Battle 2 with 116,062 – this makes for a much more impressive looking figure, but again, it managed to shift a mere 45% of available stock, meaning that it failed to meet expectations by a substantial margin. Finally, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 took top honours with the PS3 version single-handedly selling a princely 180,372 copies and achieving a 75% rate of merchandise sell-through.
Stories of Call of Duty‘s unstoppable commercial success are nothing new to the current generation gamer, yet these developments are very significant given that they transpire in Japan – a land where conventional wisdom holds that the gaming population are legendarily ambivalent towards foreign cultural products. Not only does it seem that this outdated folk wisdom will have to be retired, but it also appears that the Japanese market is developing its own version of the “CoDvember” game release wasteland month – a month which sees the gaming calendar stand still for any gamer not possessed of a casual interest in Call of Duty multiplayer.