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Japan’s Mobile Game Market Tops US$9 Billion, Is (Probably) World’s Biggest

In the last days, two domestic organizations have released updates on the size of the Japanese market for mobile games in 2015.

I am aware that different data sources (especially across countries) rely on different methodologies, but I have not seen any numbers that are bigger than these elsewhere (such as the US or China).

If these two organizations are to be believed, Japan is (very likely) the world’s biggest market for mobile games – at least for now.

Stats From Japan’s Mobile Content Forum

According to stats from Japan’s Mobile Content Forum (MCF), the country’s market for games delivered on smart devices reached US$9.5 billion in 2015.

The number includes sales from both apps and browser-based games available on smartphones and tablets.

(Japan is the only country in the world with a sizable amount of users consuming mobile browser games. Both DeNA (2432) and GREE (3632) still make more money on the browser than with native titles, for example.)

Japan’s smartphone game industry is still growing, but slower now – as can be seen in MCF’s previous data:

2012: US$2.5 billion
2013: US$5.5 billion
2014: US$8.9 billion
2015: US$9.5 billion

In addition to smartphones, the MCF reports US$169 million as the size of Japan’s feature phone game market in 2015.

Stats From Japan’s Computer Entertainment Supplier’s Association

Japan’s Computer Entertainment Supplier’s Association (CESA) just released a report with very similar numbers.

According to CESA, the Japanese market for smartphone and tablet games reached US$9.3 billion in 2015 in gross sales (this number includes apps only).

CESA sees a market share of 50.3% for iOS, and the rest commanded by Android.

Breaking down sales by genre, CESA says that 30.5% of in-app sales on iOS and even 37.3% on Android come from RPGs. This is not a big surprise, given this type of games has historically been Japan’s favorite on any platform.

As an additional reference to the overall number of US$9.3 billion for Japan, CESA sizes the North American market at US$8.6 billion and China at US$3.7 billion (CESA only indicates sales on iOS for China).

How Japanese Mobile Game Makers Go After Whales: 5 Popular Gacha Mechanics

About four years after the kompu gacha shock hit Japan’s mobile game industry hard, gacha as a monetization mechanic is in the news again. This might be over soon, and I don’t intend to discuss the ethics of gacha right now (this may come soon), but please refer to my simple primer from way back in 2012…

The Major Trend In Japan’s Mobile Game Industry Now? Consolidation.

Shortly after DeNA (2432) and GREE (3632) pioneered the concept of mobile gaming as the world knows it today (free-to-play business model, bite-sized content embedded in social networks to increase stickiness, data analysis to improve monetization, etc.) in 2006/2007 on feature phones, a flood of new developers entered the Japanese market. The acceptance of local users to consume and pay for…

dotGEARS: Flappy Bird Developer Signs Deal With Japan’s OBOKAIDEM

dotGEARS, the Vietnam-based studio behind global mega hit Flappy Bird, signed a deal with OBOKAIDEM, a game brand operated by Tokyo-based Media Kobo (3815). The announcement was made public last Friday (but has flown under the radar of English-language game media so far). Launched just last year, OBOKAIDEM has released several apps aimed at the Japanese and global…

Nintendo Partner And Pokemon Go Developer Niantic Labs Opens Japan Office

US-based Niantic Labs, the Google spin-off that Nintendo (7974), The Pokemon Company and Google itself invested US$20 million in back in October, now has a presence in Japan. The company made it into the headlines in the gaming world in September as Nintendo’s chosen partner for the co-development of Pokemon Go, a GPS-based mobile game using augmented…

Sega And LINE Enter Marketing Partnership In Japan, Announce First Smartphone Game “Fortisia”

LINE Corp. and Sega Games (6460) announced a marketing partnership for mobile games in Japan during a joint press conference yesterday. Not too surprisingly, Sega will act as the developer and publisher under the deal, while LINE Corp. will offer its messenger app as a platform for mass marketing and distribution. The reason LINE gave for choosing this…

Another IPO In Mobile Gaming In Japan: Tokyo-Based Mynet To Go Public Next Month

While Japan does barely produce any new smartphone game developers nowadays, the number of those going public continues to rise. The latest such company to get listed at the Tokyo Stock Exchange (at the Mothers market for high-growth and emerging stocks, to be more exact) is Mynet, a developer headquartered in Tokyo. While Mynet does have an office…

Video And Slides From My Presentation At Casual Connect 2015 In San Francisco

The Casual Games Association gave me the opportunity to speak at its Casual Connect 2015 event, one of the biggest of its kind worldwide, in San Francisco about the topic “Cracking Japan: How Foreign Developers Can Enter The World’s Most Lucrative Mobile Games Market”. Please find embedded below the entire presentation in the form of a YouTube video: The…