About Japan MARKET/EVENTGUIDE
Hello, I’m Hata from Ippitsusha. I write articles for various Japanese media outlets, such as Famitsu, Game*Spark, DenFamiNicoGamer, and more—a job that has me play several different new games every day. My company, Ippitsusha, does PR in Japan for foreign games, especially indie ones. We also help Japanese indie games with overseas PR, but today I’d like to talk about how we help foreign indie game developers such as you enter the Japanese market.
●The Japanese game market – How many gamers are there in Japan, and how many games do they actually play, including mobile ones?
As you know, Japan is home to Nintendo, Sony, and many other game companies. Until the turn of the century, Japanese players were in a privileged position that allowed them to only play Japanese games. Every year would see the release of several AAA titles, which were more than enough to satisfy every player’s needs. Between consoles, arcades, and computer games, the Japanese userbase wasn’t particularly interested in foreign offerings. This has changed in recent years, as games coming from outside the country have started rising in popularity here. Indie games, of course, are no exception.
Let’s see some numbers on the Japanese population and market.
There are 120 million people living in Japan, and, according to CESA, the association running the Tokyo Game Show, 49,520,000 of them, as of 2019, owned at least one gaming console, with 3,085,000 active players. According to statistics from the Japanese Government, 96.1% of Japanese people, as of 2019, owned a cell phone, with 83.4% of them being smartphones. This should give you an idea of the potential scale of the Japanese gaming market.
●So, what do we do with this?
If you have ever tried to break into the Japanese market, let me venture a guess about what you thought of it: it is a very unique and challenging market. Doing PR by yourself requires knowing a very difficult language, and there seems to be no one to rely on for help. On the other hand, you like Japan and its gaming culture, and would love for Japanese players to try out your game.
If this hits home, you may want to read about our past endeavors in helping developers market their games within Japan.
But before we look into those, let me explain what our usual efforts look like in practice.
We translate English press releases received from the developers into Japanese and send them to more than 10 Japanese media outlets. We usually also ask the developers for press kits, trailers, and gameplay movies. This could very well apply to your game too.
When the press releases go public, the game starts being discussed among Japanese players. In the time between this moment and the game’s release, we gradually release other content such as developer interviews to further increase the game’s popularity.
We participate in Japanese offline PR events such as the Tokyo Game Show or BitSummit, showcasing the game. We also create PR opportunities during online events such as the INDIE Live Expo.
With this much publicity, a great game starts gaining a name for itself, at which point we are often able to introduce it directly to people who work for Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, or any of the other major distribution platforms.
About Game Events in Japan
In Japan, there are many game exhibition events and developer conferences, such as the Tokyo Game Show.
I would like to introduce them to you.
Please note that the timing of the event is subject to change and may be cancelled.
GCC Game Creators Conference
This is a conference for game creators held in Osaka.
It’s an opportunity for developers from Capcom and other companies to talk about development techniques and learn together.
BitSummit This event is usually held in May, but in 2021 it was held in September
BitSummit: Japan’s Industry-Leading Independent Game Development Festival in Kyoto
“Zentame” is an indie game event held in Gifu Prefecture. It is a unique event held on the “Shotengai” shopping street in Japan.
This is a conference for game creators held in Yokohama, Japan.
It is an opportunity for game developers from all over Japan to talk and learn about a wide range of topics including development technology, design, business development, communication, security, and academic validation.
Tokyo Game Show is a general exhibition of computer games and other computer entertainment, held once a year by the Computer Entertainment Supplier’s Association (CESA).
DigiGeHaku is an event for the exhibition and distribution of doujin games and indie games. Not only games, but also libraries and production tools can be exhibited and distributed.