Japanese games differ from those released overseas in several important ways and the Japanese videogame market is very different from the European and American markets. The mobile gaming space is no different. With more than 12,500 mobile games from Japanese publishers currently on the Google Play store, out of 431,500 total, Japanese mobile gaming now accounts for 3% of the total. Let’s take a look at the trends that define Japanese mobile gaming in 2020.
Smartphones Are The Biggest Platform
While the Japanese video game market continues to thrive, Japanese consumers have been turning away from home game consoles since 2007. According to a Computer Entertainment Suppliers Association report, Japanese consumers spent $9 billion on mobile games last year.
The global mobile video games market is enormous. Of the roughly $150 billion spent on video games every year, $68.5 billion is spent on mobile games. Japanese mobile gamers spend much more than their western counterparts. Since the mid-2000s, many Japanese gamers have moved from their traditional consoles to handheld devices. Now that the average smartphone’s performance rivals that of the Nintendo 3DS or the PlayStation Vita, Japanese gamers are more inclined to embrace this new format.
RPG Games Are Ruling The Roster
Role-playing games have always been popular in Japan. After all, this country produced the acclaimed Final Fantasy series, one of the most-loved games ever made. Since the 1980s, RPGs have been the most popular genre in Japan, and this trend is showing no sign of slowing. The Pokémon series alone has sold more than 346 million units since first launching in 1996. The Japanese mobile games market reflects Japanese gamers’ broader preferences, featuring a large number of RPG games. RPG games also lend themselves very well to Gatcha monetization, which we will come on to shortly.
The RPG genre is a large one, encompassing a wide variety of sub-genres. As well as the conventional RPG games, there are also puzzle RPGs, action RPGs, and MMO RPGs, just to name a few. Japanese gamers are enthusiastic about these games, with RPG mobile games accounting for around a third of the total Japanese mobile games market.
Gacha is the primary form of monetization in Japan. Only 6% of Japanese mobile games are paid. This figure is a slightly higher percentage than average, with only 5% of mobile games overall requiring payment upfront. Free to play games, which rely on microtransactions to generate revenue, are popular the world over. Players can download and get started with these games without having to spend any money. However, the games are designed to incentivize the player to spend money on in-game items and currencies.
In many cases, the mechanics of these free to play games are reminiscent of the games on online casino sites like japanslots.com. Gacha monetization is a common feature amongst Japan’s free to play games. The Gacha system is reminiscent of the loot boxes now found in many western free to play games. Players spend money to unlock new characters and items. However, the unlocks they receive are based on random chance. Unlocks are assigned a rarity and a corresponding probability. Players are less unlikely to unlock rare items but have a good chance of unlocking more common rewards.
The Main Event
Anyone who owns Animal Crossing on Switch will know that Japanese games developers take their seasonal events seriously. Seasons events bridge the gap between video game worlds and the real world, providing themed bonuses according to the time of year. These seasons bonuses make games more interactive and create a link between the game world and the real world.
Animal Crossing on Switch has accumulated a global player base of 22 million, with 4.8 million of those players coming from Japan. The use of seasonal events has helped Animal Crossing to retain new players at a higher rate than most online Nintendo games. The Japanese mobile videogame market continues to thrive in 2020. Many of the trends that define Japanese console gaming have found their way into mobile games as well. With the Japanese mobile videogame market thriving and showing no signs of stopping, the industry is in a strong position for the years ahead.
This article contains sponsored links.