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What you should know about the Japanese gaming industry

The gaming industry in Japan is on the rise

The gaming industry is huge in Japan, and with a rich gaming history, it may not be a surprise to hear that it is the third-largest gaming market in the world.

Only to be preceded by China and the USA, Japan is an attractive market to tap into. Here are some facts about gaming in Japan and how publishers can promote their game titles in the Japanese market.

Image of 2 gaming controllers

Gaming industry in Japan – overview

The gaming industry in Japan started in the 60’s, and during the “bubble” economy, we saw some of the world’s most iconic games develop.

Mario, Pac-man and Sonic the Hedgehog were all born during this era – all of which have impacted the direction of the gaming world. In fact, you can still find these retro games all across the globe today.

Furthermore, big players like Nintendo, Sony PlayStation, Sega, Square Enix, Capcom and Bandai Namco are all Japanese game companies with global users. 

2023 gaming industry revenue by country
(in USD billion)Source:

Today, Japan comes in third place in terms of digital game revenues. Even if you combine Germany, the UK and France’s revenue, it doesn’t account for Japan’s gaming market revenue alone. 

According to Statista, mobile games have the largest market share, with a projected revenue of USD 6.8 billion in 2020. 

Source: Statista

Based on the mobile games market share, we can expect to see gaming usage on mobile in Japan increase.

Gaming trends in Japan

Japan has for many years enjoyed great mobile data coverage and fast-speed internet access. This has come in handy for the many commuters who travel for hours daily.

As you can imagine, these commute times are an excellent opportunity to play mobile games on smartphones. With 107 million mobile internet users, Japanese mobile users can access even faster connection speeds. The launch of 5G in 2020 was great news for new game developers, allowing low latency connectivity and faster data transmission of augmented and virtual reality.

As a result, we can expect to see more VR and AR games in Japan, such as Pokemon Go and Dragon Quest Walk. 

Source: PokemonGo

As for e-sports, there has been a slow uptake of competitive gaming in Japan compared to other countries such as the USA and China.

However, this will likely change in the coming years with help from the Japanese government. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry plans to expand the Japanese Esports industry by supporting companies and legal experts in developing large tournaments. According to BCN Inc., the industry will grow from ¥6.1 billion in 2019 to ¥15.3 billion in 2023.

According to analysts, game streaming platforms and flat rate packages offered by Ubisoft’s Uplay and Google’s Stadia may help to increase casual gamers and revolutionise the way we consume video games. It’s worth watching these new platforms and monitoring their growth in Japan. 


Source: DMFA YouTube

How to promote games in Japan

It has been said that Japan is like the Galapagos due to it having such a unique market.

To promote physical products, there are many hoops to jump through when registering a business in Japan. This is why it is much more challenging to sell console games in the already saturated and complex market.

Mobile games, on the other hand, are much easier for foreign companies to promote and monetise as everything can be done digitally and remotely. For this reason, we will focus on the promotion of game apps.

Know your customers and target audience

The key to promoting any product in Japan is understanding who you are targeting.

Understanding the market and its consumer behaviour will help you identify where your customers can be found. In addition, it’s essential to know how to reach your target audience. Knowing your user demographics will be necessary for selecting the right channels for your promotions. 

Create a comprehensive market entry plan and strategy

We recommend having a comprehensive marketing plan for your game entry into Japan.

This should include SEO, online advertising and social media marketing. Will you launch on both Android and iOS? Do you need a Japanese market manager to handle all your Japanese enquiries and help execute the plan? We would be happy to assist you with our consultation services and use our network to help you acquire talent and any other support you may require.

Choose the right marketing channels

By knowing your target audience, you can choose the best platforms for your promotions.

We recommend having a presence on Twitter and LINE, as they are Japan’s most popular social media platforms. As for PPC ads, to reach the highest number of mobile gamers in Japan, we suggest promoting your game via display ads on Google, Yahoo! JAPAN and LINE

Localise the game, creative and landing pages

For mobile games, localise the actual game and the landing pages properly.

These pages include both the Google Play and Apple App Store pages. Ensure that you use a native Japanese translator experienced in localising games. We can introduce you to a Japanese game localisation specialist should you require one. In terms of creatives, this will also require customisation for the Japanese market. What may have worked well in another market may not have the same effect in Japan.

As long as you have existing content from your game, the creative can be easily tweaked. Should you decide to run Yahoo! JAPAN Display Ads, you can enjoy complimentary banner and video ad creation – please let us know if you are interested. 

Run test campaigns with a decent budget

It goes without saying, but to acquire new users in a new market, you must set aside a budget for online advertising.

You also need to test campaigns for at least three months to get enough data for analysing and optimising campaigns. This leads us to the next step.

Analyse and Optimise

After launching your campaigns in Japan, it is best to monitor performance data on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.

This will allow you to compare results and use the information to improve new campaigns and adjust your content and SEO. 

We hope you have found this guideline on promoting a mobile game in Japan informative.

Entering the Japanese market can seem daunting, especially when you do not have a native Japanese speaker on your team. Fortunately, the digital marketing experts on our team have experience helping mobile game app clients enter Japan digitally.

Let’s talk!

Contact us for your free initial consultation today and access the world’s third-largest game industry.

Simply fill in the form and our team will get back to you as soon as possible →

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