Mobile gaming is still pretty hot in Japan!
There is hardly a subway or train in Japan where you can’t see somebody using a portable game device like the Nintendo DS and PlayStation Portable . While portable game machines directly indicate someone is playing games, the mobile phone is a ubiquitous device which allows access to all kinds of content in a private setting also while in public. Always in arm’s reach, mobile phones in Japan were used as gaming devices from the beginning. Today about 40 million Japanese play games on their mobile phones frequently. And mobile games are played 4-5 times longer than on any other (portable) gaming consoles.
The mobile marketing company, Data Labo, just published new data about mobile gaming in Japan based on a survey conducted between August 21st and 24th 2009.
Mobile game genres
The number one game genre for mobile phones in 2009 is ‘Brain games’. Japanese love quizzes and math games that seem to improve knowledge and brain activity. Like in all aging societies, Japanese believe and invest in brain games to contribute to their lifelong learning progress. Demographic changes and the recession might be reasons why ‘brain games’ climbed up two ranks in one year to the top genre for mobile gaming in Japan.
The number 2 genre for mobile phone games is traditional ‘table games’, like Mahjong and all varieties of card games. These kind of games will always be in the top ranking in Japan. Well-known, quick and easy to play and timeless enjoyment.
Fallen down from the top rank are ‘role playing games’, now the number 3 genre for mobile games in 2009.
Trend: Renai Simulation
Another trend in mobile gaming can be seen in the increase of people playing ‘Love Simulation Games’. Popular for both boys and girls, these type of games simulate a romantic relationship under more or less realistic circumstances. In short: A kind of (Japanese style) dream love story adventure with interaction possibilities.
In 2009 39.5% of all young Japanese in their teens play these ‘Renai Simulations’ on a regular basis, an increase of 18.7% over last year. But, these kind of games also popular amongst housewives and older people.
SNS go gaming
Another trend in mobile gaming is away from special gaming portals, towards social network gaming.
The top three SNS in Japan: Mixi, Mobage-town and GREE turn out to battle in mobile gaming.
Mobage-town and GREE offer a huge variety of games, avatars and in-game purchase possibilities. Both mobile networks specialized in offering free games, lite versions of popular games and paid content rather than on advertising. Depending only on advertising, Mixi is now playing catch up with these two booming platforms and recently opened ‘Mixi appli’, a Facebook-app-like integrated application and gaming platform inside Mixi. Let’s see if Mixi, Japans biggest SNS, can jump on the SNS game trend in Japan.
Another interesting finding in the survey is that more girls than boys play games on SNS. Also Girls prefer GREE and boys prefer Mobage-town.
28% of Japanese play mobile games every day
There is a big gap between mobile gamers and non-gamers. Overall 27.6% of Japanese play almost every day. 31% are male and 27.1% are female. On the other hand 44% of Japanese barely play any mobile games. Therefore you can say that Japan has a solid base (28%) of heavy users who enjoy playing games every day and a 44% base of non gamers with virtually no interest. SNS may have a potential in bridging between social networking and casual gaming, opening the chance to make use of their user base by recruiting from the grey zone: the frequent players.
Mobile gaming also plays a major role in western markets like Europe and the
Japan can serve as a good inspiration for future mobile gaming applications,