Video gaming in Japan
This article is about video gaming in Japan.
Prior to producing video games, Japanese companies like Sega, Taito, Namco and Nintendo were producers of electro-mechanical arcade games. Soon after the video game industry began in the early 1970s, many of these companies turned their attention to producing arcade video games. Japan eventually became a major exporter of video games during the golden age of arcade video games, an era that began with the release of Taito's Space Invaders in 1978 and ended around the mid-1980s.
Following the North American video game crash of 1983, Japan went on to become the most dominant country within the global video game industry, since the release of the Nintendo Entertainment System and the third-generation of consoles. Japan's dominance within the industry would continue for the next two decades, up until Microsoft's Xbox consoles began challenging Sony and Nintendo in the 2000s.
Although Japanese video games often do sell well in Western markets, the reverse is not so in Japan. Foreign games often sell more poorly in Japanese markets due to differences in escapism. However, as detailed below, Japanese games have been becoming much less successful in recent years even in its own country.
In 2002, the Japanese video game industry made up about 50% of the global market; that share has since shrunk to around 10% by 2010. The shrinkage in market share has been attributed to a difference of taste between Japanese and Western audiences, and the country's economic recession. Despite declining home console game sales, the overall Japanese gaming industry, as of 2009, is still valued at $20 billion, the largest sector of which are arcade games at $6 billion, in comparison to home console game sales of $3.5 billion and mobile game sales of $2 billion. The Japanese arcade industry has also been steadily declining, however, from ¥702.9 billion ($8.7 billion) in 2007 to ¥504.3 billion ($6.2 billion) in 2010. The domestic arcade market's decline has also been attributed to the country's economic recession.
In recent years, Japanese companies have been criticized for long development times and slow release dates on home video game consoles, their lack of third-party game engines, and for being too insular to appeal to a global market. Yoichi Wada stated in the Financial Times on April 27, 2009 the Japanese gaming industry of having become a "closed environment" and "almost xenophobic." He also stated: "The lag with the US is very clear. The US games industry was not good in the past but it has now attracted people from the computer [industry] and from Hollywood, which has led to strong growth."
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