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Japan’s smartphone games market now worth $5.4 billion, half of total gaming industry

Dr. Serkan Toto is a gaming expert and independent consultant based in Tokyo. You can follow him on Twitter and his blog. This article is republished with his permission.

Japan's market for mobile gaming

According to a new report, Japan’s domestic smartphone gaming market was worth JPY 546.8 billion (US$5.4 billion) in 2013, up a staggering 178 percent from 2012.

The report comes from CyberZ, a subsidiary of Tokyo-based internet conglomerate CyberAgent (TYO:4751).

What’s interesting about the new figures is that the smartphone gaming sector has now reached roughly half the value of the overall Japanese gaming industry, which is sized at JPY 1.1 trillion yen (US$10.8 billion) in 2013.

Observe how that ratio increased from less than 30 percent a year earlier:

Japan's smartphone gaming market value 2013

The reason why CyberZ focuses on smartphones in particular is that Japan is the only country in the world that still has a big feature phone game industry: Japan’s Mobile Content Forum (MCF) last year said that the feature phone gaming industry by itself was still worth US$2.4 billion in 2012.

By way of comparison, MCF estimated a size of US$2.7 billion for Japan’s smartphone game market in 2012, while the chart above, at roughly US$3 billion, lands in the same ballpark for that year.

Browser-based smartphones games are a thing

Staying with smartphone games only, CyberZ projects that segment will grow from US$5.4 billion in 2013 to US$6.5 billion this year.

In the chart below, you see the smartphone gaming segment broken down to native apps and browser games. Japan is the only country in the world in which millions of people play (and pay for) games inside the smartphone browser – not as apps.

While apps are booming, CyberZ projects the market for mobile browser games in Japan to stay flat year-on-year:

Japan's smartphone gaming market value 2013

Projected growth through to 2016

But growth is not to stop in 2014. The report indicates that Japan’s mobile game makers can expect to see the industry grow until at least 2016.

As can be seen below, the jumps are getting smaller year over year, but the smartphone game segment is expected to reach JPY 823.8 billion – that’s US$8.1 billion – in size by 2016:

Japan's smartphone gaming market value 2013

CyberZ conducted the research for the report together with Tokyo-based Seed Planning.

Editing by Steven Millward

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