Microsoft may have a hit on its hands with Xbox 360 in America, but the same cannot be said of the console's presence in Japan. Not only did the next-generation system debut in the Land of the Rising Sun to less than spectacular numbers, but overseas gamers have, despite Microsoft's best efforts - continued to shy away from the system in 2006.
In fact, an analysis of the Japanese videogame hardware sell-through up until the end of August, 2006, courtesy Enterbrain's F-ism marketing data service, shows that Microsoft's console has been outsold by Nintendo GameCube of all systems.
Microsoft has sold 75,837 Xbox 360 units in Japan in 2006 so far, according to Enterbrain's data. Nintendo, meanwhile, has sold 77,124 GameCubes during the same period.
It's a close race and Microsoft is gaining steam. During the last several weeks, Xbox 360 has outsold GameCube by as many as 200 or 300 units per week in Japan, narrowing the sales gap. And yes, we're having difficulty not laughing as we write this stuff.
The best-selling home console in Japan for the year is the PS2 with 1,061,563 units moved. However, the big winner is the Nintendo DS, which has sold through 5,208,404 units in 2006 alone. By comparison, Sony's PSP has moved just 1,332,773 units.
Microsoft has made attempts to appease the Japanese gamer, enlisting the aid of top local developers, which may be why the console is enjoying a very slight, but nevertheless increasing lead of month-to-month sales over GameCube. Of course, this lead may also have more to do with the fact that the Big N has all but abandoned its current generation console in the homeland, choosing instead to focus on DS and its upcoming Wii system.
We'll monitor the situation for any late-breaking improvements, but for now it is unlikely that Xbox 360 will give either Wii or PlayStation 3 a run for their money when the systems debut in Japan this holiday.