DriveClub Released in Japan Amid Market Uncertainty

The auto racing genre can be huge in Japan, as proven by PS3-exclusive Gran Turismo 5's launch to almost half a million sales in its first week in 2010 (430,707 units sold according to Media Create). When GT5 did so, it also proved a system seller, with the PS3's sales for that week more than double its previous week (about 69,000 units sold versus 29,000 the week before).
 

In 2013, Gran Turismo 6 had a proportionally comparable effect despite smaller numbers, raising the PS3's weekly sales from 13,000 to 24,000 during its launch week. It was no match for 5's software totals, however, shifting 204,784 copies — less than half its predecessor's mark. Selling 200k is great, but shy of expectations for a big series like GT and I'm guessing not quite fitting befitting the budget.
 

Microsoft has tried and failed to tap into this market with Xbox One. Neither Forza Motorsport 5 nor Forza Horizon 2 have sold well on Xbox One, as the hardware and its software struggle to manage four-digit sales numbers from week to week. You and I weren't surprised by this, as we knew Xbox One was swimming an uphill battle backwards in the snow when releasing the X1 in Japan, but Microsoft Japan's executives seemed to genuinely believe that they had some kind of ace up their sleeves when I sat down with them a year ago.

Ryotaro Hoshi showed me Forza with his eyes practically aflame, and said that he expected it to carry the Xbox One to great sales. It didn't. Both of the Forza games are now out in Japan, but the two combined have only sold about 10,000 units (about 6,000 for Motorsport 5 and about 4,000 for Horizon 2).

 

With all of my setup shit out of the way, hey, DriveClub was released in Japan today, and you can bet that Sony is hoping to rekindle the love of expensive cars driving dangerously fast. PlayStation Plus members can buy the game with a 540 yen discount off the 5,292-yen price tag (roughly $5 shaved off $50), though I couldn't locate a free version. On the online store, Sony calls this game a "social racer," but with online play not as big in Japan as it is in the rest of the world, will that impact sales? And what of the PS4 itself? It's selling much better than the Xbox One, but that's not exactly a hard thing to do right now.


 
While DriveClub definitely fills an important gap in Sony's PS4 software lineup and is priced lower than most new games, I don't think its sales numbers will match those of Gran Turismo 6, let alone 5. I expect good sales, but nothing great.The struggles that come with being a new IP, combined with Japan's battles with economic recession and PS4's low install base are likely too much to overcome.
 
We'll find out exactly what it does for PS4, at least in the short term, next week when the sales figures roll out.