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Analyzing Pokemon GO's relative failure in Japan

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Analyzing Pokemon GO's relative failure in Japan

If you want an example of how competitive and singular the Japanese mobile game market is, Pokemon GO is it.

Launching later than the other big western markets, the game shot into the top grossing position on the Japanese iPhone App Store and the Google Play Store.

But not for long.

Weeklong success

On the App Store, Pokemon GO experienced almost a week at the #1 grossing position.

It then dropped down to #4 just before its second weekend.

Since then it has climbed, again hitting the #1 spot during its third weekend before again falling away.

On Google Play, the situation is much the same.

The game launched and immediately rose, holding the #1 grossing position during its first full weekend live.

But since then, it's fallen away.

World outlier 

Of course, for any other game, such performance would be a dream.

But three things are important to provide the relevant context to Pokemon GO's relative failure in Japan.

Japan is the most competitive and lucrative mobile game market in the world.

Japan is the most competitive and lucrative mobile game market in the world.

Its longterm #1 game is Mixi's Monster Strike, which is the #1 top grossing game in the world, just on the basis of its Japanese sales.

It's impossible even for Pokemon GO to compete with it.

And secondly, Pokemon GO is a US-developed game, with light monetisation. That is not appealing to the hardcore Japanese audience.

As for the third - and if you thought I was being harsh with the term "relative failure", in every other major market in which it's launched - US, UK, Germany, France, Hong Kong, Australia, Canada - Pokemon GO immediately hit the #1 top grossing position and has remained there.

Contributing Editor

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at which means he acts like a slightly confused uncle who's forgotten where he's left his glasses. As well as letters and cameras, he likes imaginary numbers and legumes.