Edge is reporting that retailers in Japan are to stop stocking the Xbox 360, essentially ringing the death knell for the console in the region.
The retailers in question cite the console's continuing poor performance as justification - the Xbox 360 has suffered a 46.7% year-on-year drop in sales, and has sold just 72,721 in Japan since January. That's less than a tenth of what the PS3 has managed. All in all, the Xbox 360 has sold 1.5 million units in Japan since launch, as Microsoft reported in June.
Geo, one of Japan's leading game and anime retailers (and a real geek's paradise), is "drastically scaling back its Xbox 360 business", according to the Edge report. It is also claimed that other retailers are going to stop stocking it all together: at Yamada Denki, Tokyo, the report states that "the company is removing hardware and software from the majority of its stores nationwide, and is selling off its remaining stock at a heavy discount. It will still sell the console and games, but only in selected stores where the system continues to be sufficiently popular."
Anybody who has been to a Japanese games store in the past few years will have clocked that the Xbox 360's presence is barely noticeable, with games relegated to back shelves and bargain bins. The console's most high-profile exclusive in the region, The Id@lmaster 2, a game in which you train up a nubile pop starlet, has now been ported to PS3, which is certainly a contributing factor in the console's failing fortunes.
This does not have good implications for Microsoft's future in Japan, as any successor to the Xbox will have to struggle against retailers' perceptions. However, Microsoft remains committed to the region - the company recently appointed a new boss of the Japan division, Takashi Sensui. But will he be fighting a losing battle?