Mobile gaming in Japan - Statistics & Facts

The Japanese video game market today is the third biggest video game market worldwide. Some of the most important video game companies stem from Japan, such as hardware makers Sony and Nintendo, which play a dominant role both in the global as well as in the Japanese console market. The largest part of video game revenues in Japan today, however, is generated on the mobile game market. In recent years, the most popular device to play video games in Japan was the smartphone. The Japanese market for smartphone games more than doubled between 2013 and 2016, reaching a value of more than one trillion Japanese yen for the first time in 2016.

While the rise of smartphone game apps helped to expand the Japanese video game market as a whole, it is also thought to contribute to the long-term decline of other parts of the industry, such as classical handheld and home consoles. Compared to consoles, smartphone game applications profit from a high potential user base, as consumers do not need to buy specific hardware to play games. Games are usually free to play, but often feature the possibility of in-game purchases for additional content, such as items or characters. This type of monetization was pioneered by companies like DeNA and GREE in the mid-2000s and has since become a staple of the mobile gaming market. As Apple is the leading brand among mobile devices in Japan, the Apple App Store is of high importance to publishers. Among genres, puzzle, action, simulation and role playing games enjoy high popularity in Japan.

Accompanying the growth of the mobile game market is a shift towards online distribution. Video games constitute the main driver behind the rise of content distributed online in Japan, making up more than two thirds of consumer expenditure on online content. On the mobile gaming market, domestic companies like CyberAgent, Mixi, GungHo Online Entertainment and the aforementioned DeNA and GREE still play a dominant role, with the majority of recent best-selling titles coming from Japanese companies. As recent news reports have pointed out, however, foreign companies, especially from China and South Korea, are making inroads into the Japanese market.

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Market leaders

Software sales

Consumer behavior

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