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Japan's top-selling retail games of 2015: Nintendo rules,  Monster Hunter  still savage

Japan's top-selling retail games of 2015: Nintendo rules, Monster Hunter still savage

January 14, 2016 | By Christian Nutt

Japanese powerhouse game magazine Famitsu has published a list of the 100 best-selling games for 2015 in Japan, and the top charts reveal Nintendo's dominance and, by and large, the power of incumbent franchises to dominate game sales.

The period measured is actually December 29, 2014 until December 27, 2015, for the record.

A translation of the full chart is available at NeoGAF, which brought the story to our attention; Gamasutra independently verified its accuracy. 

The top 10 is below:

1. Monster Hunter X (Capcom/3DS) 2,441,977
2. Yo-Kai Watch Busters (Level-5/3DS) 1,965,202
3. Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer (Nintendo/3DS) 1,282,880
4. Splatoon (Nintendo/Wii U) 1,064,897
5. Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King (Square Enix/3DS) 864,865
6. Super Mario Maker (Nintendo/Wii U) 674,194
7. Monster Strike (Mixi/3DS) 636,709
8. Yo-Kai Watch 2: Shin'uchi (Level-5/3DS) 625,223
9. Rhythm Heaven: The Best+ (Nintendo/3DS) 607,343
10. Fire Emblem Fates (Nintendo/3DS) 538,669

Some observations on the data:

Nintendo dominates the charts. As you can see above, the bulk of the best-selling games were for the 3DS; many were published by Nintendo. The only new IP to get into the chart was Nintendo's Splatoon. According to Famitsu, the company sold the most games of any publisher: 8,450,000, and had the most games in the top 100 chart, at 24.

There's only one new new IP in the list. Nintendo's Splatoon was the only new IP to make a showing in the top 10; in fact, you have to go number 29 to find the next: Bloodborne, which despite being a new franchise, notably benefits from the goodwill of its developer's Dark Souls games. 

3DS dominates the charts. It's clear that Nintendo's handheld is the most successful platform in the console market in Japan; only one game in the top 10 was for another platform. The device has so far sold 20 million units in Japan. 

PlayStation 4 is doing okay, at best. Conversely, the best-ranked PlayStation 4 game -- the dominant console platform in the current generation -- is Metal Gear Solid V, at 15th place.

Western games don't show up much. Japan is slowly gaining an appreciation for Western-developed games, but the Vita edition of mega-hit Minecraft is the first to place on the list, at number 11. Call of Duty: Black Ops III is next, in 23rd place. 

Mobile. It's worth mentioning, at this point, how totally mobile games dominate the Japanese marketplace. Mixi's massive hit Monster Strike, the only mobile IP to cross over to consoles, made its debut on the 3DS, hitting number 7. 

The juggernaut that is Yo-Kai Watch. The number two game is a Yo-Kai Watch title, but it's not a mainline game in the franchise -- it's a spin-off. Number 8, meanwhile, is an enhanced re-release of a the 2014 numbered sequel, which had across its three versions shipped more than 6 million copies by April.

Note: Famitsu culls its sales data from a network of shops across Japan.

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