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Mobile gaming in Japan - statistics & facts

The Japanese video game market is the third biggest video game market worldwide. Some of the most renowned 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 via mobile games. Due to the expansion of the smartphone market, smartphones have become the most popular device for playing video games in Japan. The domestic market for smartphone games has expanded to a size of more than one trillion yen in recent years and is expected to continue growing further in the future.

Overview of the market

While the rise of smartphone gaming apps has helped to expand the Japanese video game market as a whole, it is also thought to contribute to the decline of other parts of the industry, such as handheld and home consoles. Compared to consoles, smartphone gaming 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 industry. A look at the monthly market share held by smartphone operating systems reveals that Android and iOS are close competitors in Japan, and hundreds of gaming apps are newly released for both operating systems every year.

Popular mobile games

The Japanese gaming app market is dominated by a small number of hit titles that managed to stay highly successful over many years. Titles such as “Puzzle & Dragons”, which was released in 2012 by GungHo Online Entertainment, “Monster Strike”, which was released in 2013 by Mixi, or “Fate/Grand Order”, which was released in 2015 by Aniplex, regularly feature among the leading mobile games based on sales revenue. A survey from 2020 showed that puzzle games were by far the most commonly experienced smartphone game genre among people who had played at least one smartphone game. Other commonly experienced genres include roleplaying, music, and simulation games. In the mobile gaming market, domestic companies continue to 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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