Japan's top earning mobile games continue to dominate in the first half of 2023

Pole position and number two swap places while third place holds its own

Japan's top earning mobile games continue to dominate in the first half of 2023

Japan’s top three highest earning mobile games remained static, with only marginal shifts of the top two, in the first half of 2023.

That’s according to Sensor Tower Japan’s latest report (via translation) which indicates that MIXI’s Monster Strike shifted to the top spot, while Uma Musume Pretty Derby from CyberAgent shifted down by one place and Fate: Grand Order from Aniplex remained fixed at the number two position.

In terms of downloads, meanwhile, Rudel Inc’s Blue Lock Project: World Champion, released in 2022, ranked first. However, Sensor Tower also notes that overall, downloads for mobile games in the Japanese market have dropped by 7% year-on-year.

However, one interesting contender to point out is MiHoYo’s Honkai: Star Rail, which has apparently been the top for revenue and download growth within the first half of 2023. Honkai has been a major player in mobile since its release, well on the way to dethroning its predecessor as MiHoYo’s previous darling Genshin Impact slips behind in terms of revenue.

Gacha continues to rule in Japan

Of course, Japan can take the credit for the creation of the gacha game, based on the gachapon machines that dot many public stores, and which has been the basis for many titles developed across the world. It can also claim the more dubious credit of the gacha “whales” whose high spending and small number makes them a great way for developers of games in this genre to make huge amounts of revenue from a relatively limited audience.

However, it’s interesting to note that, for a country known for the vibrancy of its gaming industry and the hundreds of titles developed on platforms such as console and mobile, that there seems to be a great amount of longevity in those titles which earn the most revenue. Sensor Tower also indicates that there’s a lot to watch for in terms of the performance of overseas publishers in Japan, as while they haven’t yet dethroned any of the top performing titles, the aforementioned Honkai: Star Rail and dark horse contender Goddess of Victory: Nikke continue to show meteoric growth.

We can also see this in how, as noted by Sensor Tower, at least six titles in the top ten for revenue are more than five years old. This kind of longevity in mobile is often only dreamed of by developers, and points to the relatively static nature of the Japanese mobile market, at least compared to highly dynamic markets such as in the US, India and China where many new games can enter the market.

Staff Writer

Iwan is a Cardiff-based freelance writer, who joined the Pocket Gamer Biz site fresh-faced from University before moving to the editorial team in November of 2023.