September 5, 2023

Industry Trends: Japan's Gaming Market Growth and Trends


japan gaming 2023



Japan is one of the world's biggest video game markets, with revenues of US$ 24 billion in 2024. Mobile games are the most popular and profitable platform in Japan, with more than half of the gamers playing on mobile devices. A recent survey conducted by Engagement Lab provides valuable insights into the gaming habits and preferences of Japanese gamers, which can help industry decision-makers make informed choices.


Gaming penetration and demographics

The survey reveals that approximately 56% of respondents play games on at least one device, with no significant difference between male (58%) and female (54%) gamers. Gaming penetration is highest among the 16-29 age group (66%), followed closely by the 30s (65%) and 40s (58%). Excluding the 50-60 age group, over half of all age groups are gaming enthusiasts, which indicates widespread adoption across various demographics.


Gaming penetration by device

Smartphones are the most popular gaming platform, with 82% of male and 89% of female gamers using them. While the 16-29 age group has the highest smartphone gaming penetration (90%), other age groups also show more than 80% adoption. PCs and gaming consoles are used by 45% and 44% of gamers, respectively, with a slightly higher prevalence among males (50%+) than females (approx. 35%).



Gaming Time and Spending Patterns

On weekdays, smartphone gamers play for an average of 1.8 hours, while console gamers play for 2.6 hours on weekends. In general, gaming sessions are 30 minutes to 1 hour longer on weekends. Most gamers play for 1-2 hours, regardless of platform and day of the week.

In terms of spending, gaming consoles have the highest proportion of paying users (39%), followed by smartphones (24%), PCs (22%), and tablets (15%). The average monthly expenditure is highest for console gamers (JPY3,057), followed by PC (JPY2,629), smartphone (JPY1,727), and tablet (JPY1,198) gamers.



Gaming motivation and genre preferences

Relaxation and killing time are the primary motivations for gaming across all age groups. However, younger gamers (16-29) also enjoy exploring open-world games and completing missions for a sense of achievement. Puzzle and brain games are the most popular genres overall, but role-playing games are the top choice for male gamers. Female gamers prefer puzzle/brain games, simulation games, and casual games. Music games are particularly popular among young female gamers.


Game discovery and recommendations

Friends and acquaintances are the most influential sources of game recommendations, followed by app store/online game store rankings and official game websites. Younger gamers (16-29) are more likely to discover games through app store rankings and influencer/celebrity trials or live plays.


Gamer segments: gaming preferences and motivations

The survey segments gamers into three categories based on their spending behavior:

  • Free Gamers (66.8%): Do not spend on any gaming device
  • Light Gamers (19.0%): Spend on some gaming devices
  • Hardcore Gamers (14.3%): Spend on all gaming devices

Analysis of these segments reveals interesting patterns in gaming preferences and motivations, which can help industry decision-makers create targeted strategies and offerings that cater to the needs of each group.


Top 5 Recommendations for Gaming Industry Decision Makers

    1. Focus on mobile gaming
      With the majority of gamers playing on mobile devices, investing in mobile game development and marketing can help maximize profits in the Japanese gaming market.

    2. Target multiple gamer segments
      Cater to the different preferences and motivations of Free Gamers, Light Gamers, and Hardcore Gamers by offering a diverse range of gaming experiences and monetization options.

    3. Leverage social recommendations
      Encourage gamers to share their experiences and recommend games to friends and acquaintances through in-game incentives and social media integration.

    4. Appeal to diverse demographics
      Develop games that cater to various age groups and genders, considering their preferences for genres, gaming motivations, and spending patterns.

    5. Collaborate with influencers
      Partner with influencers and celebrities to promote games, as younger gamers are more likely to discover and try new games through influencer trials and live plays.


Understanding the gaming market in Japan is crucial for industry decision-makers to create targeted strategies and offerings.



Source: Engagement Lab, GMO Research, TNL Research, Generative AI
Edited by: Tatsuhiro Gomi
This article draft was created with assistance from AI