It’s not just that Xbox One X: can you tell the difference between Japanese and Western consoles?

When you want to buy a new piece of technology in the UK, there’s only one place you can go: John Lewis. But if you’re not one of their account holders, you can’t bring yourself to peruse its must-have items for days on end. When someone first realised that lay-by was a possibility, it was hailed as a great opportunity to boost an otherwise slow-selling stock and be removed from a buying list. Since then, many have speculated that products that are expected to be popular for a limited time are often under-stocked because Microsoft, Sony, or Nintendo are losing money on the sale and therefore don’t want to sell products that end up becoming obsolete.

A recent Craigslist post raised eyebrows when it listed the price for a PS4 Slim in specific stock-concentrated areas in the UK. The PS4 Slim is a variant of the game console that initially launched as a reduction of the original Playstation 4’s specifications. When a quick search shows that sales aren’t picking up at the peak of popularity, it’s easy to assume that sales are similarly low in the UK. When you consider that the console itself doesn’t cost much to make and is expected to be around for a long time, it seems as though sales were low because of owners who anticipated the launch of the PS4 Pro. These people never wanted to break the cycle and ended up holding onto their existing consoles. A lack of console sales has become the norm for UK gamers who stopped purchasing as many games – a trend that some claim could lead to unsustainably low hardware prices in the future.

It’s perfectly possible that these are gaming supplies that are difficult to find due to the rapid growth of older consoles like the PSP and Nintendo Switch. In fact, Nintendo has recently been losing money because of sales of the original Wii console and has taken steps to close its Game Cafe in some of its Japanese stores. But the Game Cafe has a third alternative store within the established market of the Nintendo store that recently told local media that it was no longer accepting inventory.

Another possibility is that even if these consoles are less sought after and harder to come by, their real meaning may be different in different locations. One Reddit user spoke of their frustration with mistakenly buying an “I love Xbox” Xbox 360 for £89 (at time of writing this article, it still exists). When it was returned they learned that the markings “Xbox 360” had been added to the top, making it look like a PlayStation. It has since been reported that this is a standard issue replacement for damaged consoles, but not to be used by the rest of the Japanese population, as it is marketed for domestic use. People with previous Xbox consoles sometimes found themselves in this position, but without tools to disconnect the “Xbox” sticker, someone may not have realised that it was not a label for the U.S.

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