For the week of January 16 – January 22, eight of the ten bestselling video games in Japan were for the DS, an outcome I would not have believed half a year ago, let alone at launch. The only reason why the hardware chart for that month doesn’t show a similar skew is because Nintendo ran out of DS units to sell a few weeks ago. And Nintendo’s current market-broadening strategy is really paying off: two of the games, both of which are million-sellers, are in the Brain Training series, and there’s no way traditional gamers are buying all of those. Apparently Yawaraka Atamajuku, which has also sold a million copies, is a spin-off of sorts of that series; and while Animal Crossing and Tamagotchi (1.6 and .9 million units, respectively) are in a very different genre from the above, they’re also hardly targeted at traditional gamers.

The Brain Training games are about to be launched in the US; I’d be shocked if they had the same effect here, though. (Then again, I’ve been shocked before.) If Sony would just loosen up on the PSP and let other people treat it as the technically superb handheld platform that it is, who knows what would happen, because the geek crowd here is very enamored with that machine. But Sony’s current dual nature as electronics manufacturer and content provider (of movies and music, not just games) means that they’re unable to give up control to that extent. Too bad; I’d like to see what a good homebrew portable culture could come up with. I am enough of a Nintendo fanboy to be happy about Sony’s mistakes, though. But the genre broadening implications of their success are simply important for the development of new forms of art.

(While I’m on the subject, I should mention this Lost Garden post, too.)

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