The PlayStation 4 and the Unlucky “Number”

Japanese culture is rooted in superstitious beliefs. Some of these superstitions are so deep in the culture that they are meant to serve as lessons or practical advice. One of these superstitions has to do with the number 4 and will affect the name of Sony’s next console, the PlayStation 4.

Playstation 4 unlucky number: black-catThe number 4 (FOUR) in Japanese culture is an unlucky number because the word for “FOUR” (shi) sounds like the word “Death.” (also shi) Numbers and objects which have names that are homophones for words such as “death” and “suffering” are typically considered unlucky. This presents Sony with a potential problem in Japan. Release the PlayStation 4 with an unlucky number that represents death in a superstitious culture and risk alienating a portion of your user base or dump the numbered branding altogether.

The rest of the world doesn’t have the same superstitious values or beliefs and will most likely continue to call Sony’s next console the PlayStation 4. Sony could also release the console with a different name in Japan. This could prompt some westerners to start calling Sony’s next console the “PlayStation Death.” That’s not as appealing or as funny as I thought it would be when I first started writing this article. Regardless, Sony won’t be calling their next console the PlayStation 3″U,” or “The Console Formerly Known as the PlayStation 3.”

Homophones: Words that have the same pronunciation but have a different meaning.

America has its superstitions as well. 13 is an unlucky number in the U.S. and it is considered bad luck if a black cat crosses your path in the U.S. and in Japan.

4 thoughts on “The PlayStation 4 and the Unlucky “Number”

  1. Superstation is a dangerous thing hen it comes to the consumer here in ireland car registration plates show for example 12 d and some other numbers the 12 is the year and the d is the county this year car regs have changed to 131 because off the no 13 being unlucky


  2. One thing to note is, while 4 does indeed mean Death as well, Playstation numbers is not pronounced by their Japanese number counterpart. Instead they’re pronounced as the English numeral. As in Playstation ONE instead of Playstation ICHI. Hence a PS4 would be pronounced as, well, Playstation FOORU (aka FOUR) instead of SHI.


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