Hypercasual games dominate Japan’s charts by installs, but struggle to engage players

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A new report by Liftoff and Adjust has delved into the Japanese mobile market, revealing that RPG and action titles dominate the market by sessions.

Despite its reputation as a worldwide hub for the tech and gaming industries, with the country’s gamers contributing $22.1 billion to the sector’s global revenue in 2021, Japan has been slow to adapt to mobile technology. Part of this delay can be attributed to the country’s median age of 49.2, the second highest in the world, behind Monaco.

Japan has the third largest gaming market in the world, and it appears that the pandemic had a positive effect on the mobile market, which saw a 22 percent year-on-year increase in the number of sessions in 2021. Although the market is now normalising there, as it is worldwide, the number of sessions remains 8 percent above the early-pandemic levels.

Hypercasual titles dominated in terms of installs, with 15 percent of all fresh downloads being for games of this genre. This was followed by RPG titles at 13 percent and puzzles at 12 percent.

However, session distribution is a different story, with hypercasual titles accounting for only 1 percent of the total number, tied for the lowest of the surveyed genres alongside family and casino games. RPG games tied with action titles in terms of the number of sessions with 17 percent, followed by puzzle games at 6 percent.

An Apple a day

Casual games fell in the middle of the pack in terms of both installs (7 percent) and sessions (8 percent).

Apple seems to be particularly popular with Japanese mobile gamers, accounting for 67 percent of the total sessions tracked by Adjust in comparison to 33 percent on Android.

Retention rates fell slightly behind the curve, with day one retention rates at 22 percent and falling as time passes. By day 7 retention declined to 9 percent, falling further to 30 percent on day 30.

Taken together, this data suggests that gamers in Japan are more likely to pick in-depth or midcore titles, more akin to console or PC offerings. While casual and hypercasual games, alongside similar genres, see more engagement worldwide, it appears that these games are struggling to compete with more “serious” genres in Japan.

Earlier this year, data.ai examined the success of Apex Legends in Japan.

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