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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).

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