So today I went back to Edion next to Osaka-Namba after my visit from a few days ago (on Saturday) where I covered the actual launch on the day. In case you have not seen it yet, there’s the full coverage in this previous article, as well as the video I shared on Sunday:
After I shared this content, I asked our followers on Mastodon their feedback with a very simple poll:
As you can see most people who responded had a positive impression of how the launch went based on what they could gather.
Today I went back and tried a few more things.
Number of Units Sold
First, I went to the 7th floor again to see how many units had been sold. This time, there were less 256Gb “cards” left on the shelves, and I talked to another store clerk who confirmed that the most popular units sold were now the 256 Gb ones.
I tried to ask him for the actual number of units sold, and to my surprise he was very forthcoming about it. He told me they have sold somewhere between 80 and 100 units since the opening on Saturday. My guess is that around 30 were sold in the first few hours to people who came for the opening and to grab their units, and this means that the rest (between 50 and 70) were sold in the following 2 days. Absolute numbers is one thing, but is that good? Average? Bad? Hard to say - after all, there is virtually no advertising for the Steam Deck at the moment, apart from the few posters outside the store and the event stage on the first floor.
I asked the same store clerk who is buying the Steam Deck currently, and he clearly said that it’s PC Gamers. I emphasized “but there’s a lot of people who own the Switch in Japan, and this booth is very close to the Switch shelves next to here”, but he was adamant that there is very little overlap between people who use the Switch and people who buy the Steam Deck at the moment. This is not surprising, and is also consistent with the positioning from Komodo and Valve to focus on PC Gamers for now.
Between 80 to 100 units, still, is probably just “average”. Not great, but not terrible either. It’s certainly not flying off the shelves by any means, but this was to be expected for something that is relatively expensive, that is launched without advertising campaign, and in a market where Steam and PC Gaming are altogether still a niche. You need to put things in perspective.
If you were expecting the Steam Deck to make a dent on the Switch market, this is certainly not it. Personally I see rather as a potential “new PSP”, i.e. a machine that can run modern and potentially demanding games in a portable format, without too much difference from how they would run on a new console or on a PC. Since Sony has discontinued their line of portable systems, this market is up for grabs at the moment, and PC Gaming and devices like the Deck could fill that gap.
Back to the trial space
I went back to the first floor and I had another go at the Steam Deck, this time with 2 different games:
- Super Bomberman R
- Devil May Cry , the DMC episode
And I kid you not, SUper Bomberman R is crashing as well. I’m horrified at this stage by the lack of preparation. Out of something like 15 games installed, on two separate days, I was able to find 2 games that either did not start, or crashed before going in-game (the case of Super Bomberman R). If I were someone from Valve, I would be very, very dissapointed by this lack of readiness. If you can’t have 15 games that work absolutely perfectly, then just cut it down to 5 games as long as you are 100% sure that they would never, ever fail in such conditions.
There were less people at the trial space this time - 4 or 5 only, but I arrived early afternoon, and on a Monday (not a holiday today in Japan, while quite a few people take the Monday and Tuesday off this week to make it a full week of vacation as the rest of the week is off - the famous Golden Week).
Where things are going
Too early to say. But these 80 to 100 units sold in 2 days will be quickly forgotten in case the sales continue, week by week, to perform more or less at the same rate. Or, they could be seen as an early sign of failure, if this was the peak demand and the following weeks fail to show any kind of traction. We’ll know a lot more what to expect in a week or two.
It will also be very interesting to hear the stories from Korea since they will also launch in stores there, in a very different market where the PC is king. I would expect Korea to perform massively better at least in the beginning.
Here’s also the video I posted a few hours back, with a few more pictures:
Will be back with more updates soon.