Japanese Gaming Market and the “Galapagos Syndrome”!


Remember the days of Super Mario and you start wondering what happened to the Japanese offerings which dominated the world gaming markets once! Today the multi-billion dollar Japanese videogame market, ruled by fantasy-style gaming selling in millions is increasingly looking inwards; on one hand dominated by worldwide successes like Pokemon and Biohazard and on the other games which are specially designed for Japanese gamers.

Game developers have observed that visuals, titles and characters favored worldwide may actually not be popular in Japan especially with the “Galapagos Syndrome” in which firms have begun to concentrate almost exclusively on the domestic market. For example, a popular comic book based offering “Shonen Jump” centering a popular character featured on multiple media platforms from movies to television; and Namco Bandai’s AKB 1/149 Renai Sosenkyo, a dating simulation game based on the name of a well known girl band of a popular title within the domestic market.

Another unique aspect of the country’s gaming market is there a love for portable gaming devices. One of the biggest problems for foreign game operators remains cultural differences. The love of fantasy-style and family use games in low-crime Japan stands in absolute contrast to the western themes of extreme violence. This is evident with the relative success of western brands of videogames like Grand Theft Auto, an undoubtedly violent game in Japan.


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