Tackling the Tempting, Yet Perilous Japanese Mobile Games Market

“The largest mobile games market in the world” sounds awfully tempting, doesn’t it?


It’s like the Wonka Factory to a chocoholic, or Comicon to a Joss Whedon fan. It’s true, the Japanese love their mobile games. Step on any train platform in Tokyo, and you’ll see well-heeled young professionals furiously tapping at their phones (and odds are, they’re playing Monster Strike). What could be dangerous about introducing your game into such a welcoming country? Just take a gander at the statistics!


Here be dragons!

Specifically, a game called Puzzle & Dragons, which along with Monster Strike runs an effective duopoly on Japanese mobile gaming spending. Yes, Japanese gamers have been estimated to spend a whopping $65 a month on their mobile games, but 70 to 80 percent of that money went to either Dragons or Monsters. Between 2001 and 2013, not one foreign-made video game title broke the top 100 in Japan.

“yoge kusoge”

Which brings us to our new vocabulary term: “yoge kusoge” – or, “foreign games are crap.” That’s a loose translation of an idea that has pervaded the Japanese games market. It’s up for debate whether this attitude is changing – from what we’ve observed, well-localized Western games are in demand, at least in consoles and PC. But the mobile market? It’s a tough one.

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