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Japanese gaming industry

In today’s video we discuss everything you need to know about the Japanese gaming industry.

Playstation, Nintendo, Pokemon, Mario, Zelda, Tekken, Street fighter – the list goes on and on and on… Japan has always been a technological leader, particularly when it comes to gaming. Classic Sega and Nintendo arcade and video games were created in Japan, as were some of the biggest games in the PlayStation 2 era such as Final Fantasy and Resident Evil.


The gaming history in Japan goes all the way back to… 1966! As not many people had computers at homes during that time, those games were available to play at gaming arcades.

In 1966, Sega introduced an electro-mechanical game called Periscope – a submarine simulator which used lights and plastic waves to simulate sinking ships from a submarine. Nintendo ater produced gun games that used rear image projection – the first of these, the light-gun game Duck Hunt featured animated moving targets on a screen.

Eventually, the 1978 arcade release of Space Invaders would mark the first major mainstream breakthrough for video games in Japan. Its success marked the beginning of the golden age of arcade video games.

It was during the 80s that Japan began to stand out as the ultimate video game haven – first with the release of Namco’s Pacman, then with Nintendo’s Mario Bros and finally, in the early 90s, with Sega’s Sonic the Hedgehog.


Current situation

40 years later, Japan is still at the forefront of gaming, with the third largest market in the world after the USA and China. Consoles are still the go-to platforms for gamers. However, recent surveys report that 50% of Japanese Internet users play games with their smartphones. Augmented reality games such as Pokemon Go and Dragon Quest Walk are tipped to be the future, opening up unique opportunities for commercial placements on top of offering unique gaming scenarios.

The Japanese video gaming industry is rich with developers including. But, aside from the big names, there are thousands and thousands of indie companies publishing new titles every day. The selection ranges from sports to RPG, arcade to first-person shooter.

Although Japan may not be the biggest video game market in the world now, it does have the world’s largest market for mobile games, with the country’s gaming market today largely being dominated by handheld game consoles instead of home consoles. In 2014 alone, the gaming market in Japan reached $9.6 billion, with $5.8 billion coming from mobile gaming, and since then the mobile market has continued to grow.

Gaming, once considered an activity for “loners”, has proven it can unite people and offer precious social value: players can connect and feel part of a community, which was especially important during the lockdowns.

The eSports industry is on the rise too, and the Ministry of Economy has plans to expand this new business by supporting companies and developers who plan and organise major national and international tournaments.


Need help?

If you are looking for someone to help you launch and promote your games or apps in Japan – we can help!

Simply fill in the form and schedule a free consultation here.

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