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Japan's retail market shows first signs of growth in 5 years

The Japanese retail game market is recovering. The improvement might be marginal, but it's the first time in five years that the market has been on the upswing.

Gamasutra (via Tech in Asia, translating Famitsu publisher Enterbrain) reports that it grew by 1.2 percent in fiscal 2012 (ended March 31), which is a small but major breakthrough. The market reached $4.6 billion. The change was largely due to console sales.

Hardware sales improved by 5 percent from last year, growing to about $1.8 billion. Contributing to that figure are the launch of the Wii U and 3DS LL (or XL in North America), along with price cuts on the PlayStation 3 and PS Vita.

This is good news for a country that some developers say needs to step up and change.

However, game sales for consoles and handhelds shrank by 1.2 percent to $2.8 billion although that may be a natural response to the increased focus on mobile and social releases.

In 2012, the social gaming market alone in Japan was worth $4.3 billion.

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Stephanie Carmichael Twitter: @wita
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