This article is part of an ongoing series of data-driven articles from PocketGamer.biz and data.ai (formerly App Annie) highlighting trends in the global mobile games sector using data.ai’s Game IQ analytics.
While Apex Legends mobile incarnation has been a global success, the game’s success in the notoriously challenging Japanese market has been a standout, remaining in the top 10 games by download for 54 consecutive days.
data.ai leveraged its gaming intelligence suite to break down how Apex Legends cracked the market.
Japan is one of the world’s largest and most lucrative markets for videogames of all forms. While the country is the 11th largest in the world by population, it was the world’s third largest mobile games market in the first half (H1) of 2022 with a consumer spend of over $6.7 billion.
Global gaming hub
Japan is also a global powerhouse when it comes to game development with many of the world’s best-loved titles emerging from development studios across the country. This can leads to charts which are full of home-grown titles - which can increase the difficulties of success for titles developed overseas.
So how did Apex Legends achieve chart success? The data.ai platform provides insight into consumers and helps them create a localised strategy, based upon more informed decision-making.
The game includes several key features that play very well within the Japanese market, including:
A focus on strong characters and intellectual property (IP)
Japanese gamers can be seen to react favourably to heroes/character-based content. To put this in context, Apex Legends replaced Disney as the most downloaded IP by total app downloads in Q2 2022, across iOS and Google Play.
Marketing with a local flavour
EA focused hard on localised advertising for user acquisition and was careful to target the most popular platforms. In the case of Apex Legends, EA saw its share of voice on YouTube rise from 3.3% to 7.4% three weeks post-release, and from 0.33% to 3.6% on Twitter.
EA also localised its advertising creative, choosing a distinct cell-shaded anime style which differs from the in-game graphics.
Offline, the company partnered with the Koshigaya Rice Paddy Art Executive Committee in Koshigaya City, Japan to sponsor the creation of Bloodhound rice paddy art in a field visible to commuters on a busy train line. Viewers could scan it to win prizes.
Understanding player sentiment
Apex Legends scored highly in terms of player reviews. data.ai’s Ratings Over Time function, which shows historical ratings for an app shows more than 80% of reviewers in Japan rated it 5 Star for iPhone, compared to 72% for PUBG Mobile and 62% for Knives Out.
It's worth noting that data.ai subscribers can go deeper and analyze reviews by ‘topics’ such as ‘performance and bugs’, ‘design’ etc to help prioritise pain points that gamers are finding in rival games.
DATA.AI’s Q2 2022 Mobile Market Pulse Top Apps and Games offers even greater insight into the global mobile markets and the performance of the leading apps and games in key regions worldwide. The report is available free and can be downloaded here.
Find Out More
If you’re enjoying the insights from data.ai, you can listen in to the company’s new Game Changers podcast, which takes a deep dive into different aspects of the global mobile games market.