Video gaming in Japan

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This article is about video gaming in Japan. Japanese game development is often identified with the golden age of videogames - particularly Nintendo under Shigeru Miyamoto and Hiroshi Yamauchi, and Sega during the same time period - and its industry dominated the field during the 1980's and 1990's, remaining dominant until the 2000's.


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.[1][2][3]

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.[4][5][6]

Although Japanese video games often do sell well in Western markets, the reverse is not so in Japan.[7][8][9][10] Foreign games often sell more poorly in Japanese markets due to differences in escapism.[11] However, as detailed below, Japanese games have been becoming much less successful in recent years even in its own country.[12][13][14]


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.[15] The shrinkage in market share has been attributed to a difference of taste between Japanese and Western audiences,[15][16] and the country's economic recession.[17] 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.[18] 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.[17][19] The domestic arcade market's decline has also been attributed to the country's economic recession.[17]

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.[20] Yoichi Wada stated in the Financial Times on April 27, 2009 the Japanese gaming industry of having become a "closed environment" and "almost xenophobic."[21] 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."[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Boxer, Steve (2012-03-02). "Feature: Is Japan's development scene doomed?". Retrieved 2012-10-01. 
  2. ^ "Why Japanese Games are Breaking Up With the West from". Retrieved 2012-10-01. 
  3. ^ Lah, Kyung (February 8, 2012). "Japan's older generation turns gamers". CNN. Retrieved June 19, 2014. 
  4. ^ Tabuchi, Hiroko (September 20, 2010). "Japanese Playing a New Video Game: Catch-Up". The New York Times. Retrieved June 19, 2014. 
  5. ^ "PAX '07: Japanese Gaming Culture 101 -". Gamespot. August 26, 2007. Retrieved June 19, 2014. 
  6. ^ "GameSpy: Video Game Culture Clash - Page 1". Retrieved 2012-10-01. [dead link]
  7. ^ Kent, Steven (April 28, 2004). "Video games that get lost in translation". NBC News. Retrieved June 19, 2014. 
  8. ^ Robson, Daniel (June 29, 2011). "Local heroes take Japanese video games to the world". The Japan Times. Retrieved June 19, 2014. 
  9. ^ Ashcraft, Brian (August 3, 2011). "Top game designers going social". The Japan Times. Retrieved June 19, 2014. 
  10. ^ Ashcraft, Brian (May 2, 2012). "Japan's gamers are starting to shoot 'em up". The Japan Times. Retrieved June 19, 2014. 
  11. ^ Ashcraft, Brian (September 5, 2012). "Gunslinging the Japanese way". Japan Times. Retrieved June 19, 2014. 
  12. ^ "Inafune: Japanese game industry is not fine". = Destructoid. 2013-04-04. Retrieved 2013-07-28. 
  13. ^ Johnson, Stephen (2010-08-09). "Itagaki: japanese game industry dying". G4tv. Retrieved 2013-07-28. 
  14. ^ Robinson, Martin (2012-10-10). "The truth about Japan: a postcard from the Japanese games industry". Eurogamer. Retrieved 2013-07-28. 
  15. ^ a b Cieslak, Marc (2010-11-04). "Is the Japanese gaming industry in crisis?". BBC. Retrieved 2010-11-06. 
  16. ^ Krotoski, Aleks (2008-10-08). "Tokyo Game Show Day 2: the state of the Japanese industry". Guardian (London). Retrieved 2010-11-06. 
  17. ^ a b c "Market Data". Capcom. October 14, 2011. Retrieved 14 April 2012. 
  18. ^ Sambe, Yukiharu (2009). "Japan’s Arcade Games and Their Technology". Lecture Notes in Computer Science. Entertainment Computing– ICEC 2009 5709: 338. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-04052-8_62. Retrieved 25 January 2012. 
  19. ^ "Space invaders: Seniors take over Japan's arcades". GMA Network. January 11, 2012. Retrieved 12 April 2012. 
  20. ^ "Why do Japanese developers keep us waiting?". The Japan Times. Retrieved 2011-10-09. 
  21. ^ a b "Square Enix eyes further acquisitions". Financial Times. Retrieved 2012-01-21.