This article is part of an ongoing series of data-driven articles from PocketGamer.biz and App Annie highlighting trends in the mobile games sector.
We're continuing to take a break from looking at the global mobile game charts, instead dipping into what's going on in individual territories.
From initially looking at the US, then Germany, this week we're delving into the Japanese mobile game market.
And the big surprise is how familiar many of the titles on these charts are.
Of course, there remains a strong concentration of locally-developed content, but even in the case of the most downloaded game chart, a large number of these games feature on the global most downloaded chart too.
Examples include hypercasual experiences such as Voodoo’s Push'em all and Draw Climber, and Popcore Games' Pull the Pin.
Still, the top game in Japan is Capcom's Japan-only RPG Monster Hunter Riders, which has just been released and is clearly providing extremely popular.
It's also something of a surprise to see Monster Strike, which was released in 2013, still featuring on this download chart. But despite making over $7 billion in lifetime revenue, because of the very high revenue it generates per player it's only been downloaded by a relatively small number of players.
Looking at the most popular mobile games in Japan in terms of weekly engagement, again there is a mix of globally successful games and locally-developed content, however the balance is now skewed much more towards Japanese games.
From the global perspective, the two standout games are Pokemon Go and Call of Duty: Mobile. It's also interesting to see Knives Out still performing well. Developed by Chinese outfit NetEase, this PUBG Mobile clone launched back in 2018 and has been a fixture on the Japanese mobile game charts ever since.
But the majority of the games driving engagement are titles developed by Japanese developers, using Japanese IP and which particularly appeal to Japanese consumers.
It's also significant to note that seven of the games on weekly engagement list also feature on the top grossing list, with Monster Strike taking the #1 position in both charts.
In fact, it's the only game to appear on all three Japanese charts. It's extremely unusual for a game to do this as it means that as well as generating lots of cash and playtime, it's also attracting a lot of new players.
It’s also interesting to note despite just having been released, Monster Hunter Riders is already listed on the top grossing chart.
More generally, such is the lucrative nature of Japanese mobile gamers that most of the games on the top grossing chart have also featured - and previously been discussed - on the global top grossing charts. But it is worth taking the opportunity to look at those titles not previously covered in these articles.
One such is Cygames' action RPG Princess Connect! Re:Dive, which was released in 2018 as the sequel to the original Princess Connect! mobile game.
Similarly the popularity of baseball in Japanese culture is highlighted by the position of Konami's sports sim Professional Baseball Spirits A, which is one game in a series dating back to 2004.
Finally, Arknights is - like Knives Out - a Chinese-developed game, in this case a deep tower defense RPG - that has really appealed to the Japanese audience.
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