Everybody knows that Japan has strong links to the gaming industry; even if you’re not a big gamer yourself, you will surely be aware of the country’s contribution to global gaming history. From the earliest days of arcade gaming in the 1970s and 80s, Japan’s game developers have been creating some of the most iconic characters and stories ever invented.
These include Super Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Pokémon, Final Fantasy, and more—and those are only titles from the Nintendo studio. To put this into context, out of the Top 10 list of best-selling video games of all time, Nintendo claims four spots for Super Mario, Wii Sports, and Pokémon titles.
Nintendo’s dominance of the global gaming market is just the tip of the iceberg. The company’s success has led to hundreds of innovations that have helped Japan’s domestic gaming sector boom. Each year, there’s a new story to follow—have you kept up with 2022’s latest gaming-related developments in Japan? Keep reading for a few of the biggest stories.
Mobile Remains King… But There’s a New Challenger
Worldwide, gamers have made a shift towards mobile titles. This is due to convenience factors and the rise of casual gaming. Today, mobile gamers can compete in mega-popular titles like PUBG Battleground and are no longer confined to Nokia’s Snake. However, it’s just as common for someone to play slots games via a mobile device. Players can find dozens of diverse titles while they’re on the go, including hits like Fishin’ Frenzy, Rich Wilde and the Book of Dead, and Starburst.
And this trend is only set to grow in the coming years—especially as gaming-first mobile devices from Android start to find more traction. But Japan has seen a major rise in the number of PC gamers over the last three years. Though it had become something of a niche format compared to mobile and console, PC gaming doubled in size from 2018 to 2021, according to Kadokawa ASCII.
In fact, this rise coincides with Japan’s Q1 reports on mobile gaming revenue. For the first time in years, Japan (and the US) saw a decline in mobile revenue. This comes after yearly growth in the mobile gaming market, including the amount that players spend on microtransactions and in-game purchases.
Tokyo Game Show Returns
The Tokyo Game Show returned, after a two-year hiatus, as a hybrid event. For those who don’t know, the Tokyo Game Show is widely considered the world’s premier gaming event. It’s a showcase for the world’s leading developers to engage with fans, generate excitement about their games and characters, and offer sneak peeks into their latest projects. In other words, it’s a show that covers the latest frontiers in gaming—in terms of mechanics, hardware, and much more.
One of the biggest standouts was Capcom’s massive Sonic the Hedgehog figurine, which directed visitors to sample the latest Sonic Frontiers release, scheduled to drop next year. Another popular stopover came from THQ Nordic, which brought on an entire team to cosplay Destroy All Humans Reprobed and engage with fans.
However, the true hero was Sony’s PlayStation VR 2 headset. The hardware made its world premiere at the Tokyo Game Show and has since generated plenty of buzz from fans of virtual technology. Next year, the headsets are expected to make another appearance at the event, but with expanded opportunities for fans to try out the gaming setup.
Intel World Open & an Interest in Global eSports
In 2021, the Tokyo Olympics quietly hosted one of the world’s most influential gaming events: the Intel World Open. Even though the International Olympic Committee still doesn’t recognize eSports as a traditional sport that can be admitted into the Olympic Games, the Tokyo Olympics featured a global gaming competition.
The event was called the Intel World Open. Even though it ran before the Olympic torch was lit, it marked one of the first official ties between competitive gaming and the Olympics. Players from different nations competed to see who would be the champion in Street Fighter V and Rocket League. Though the event was part of the Olympics buzz, it highlights the country’s interest in organizing and hosting global eSports competitions.