In Japan alone, the top five location-based games generated $620 million in 2023 with leading titles including Pokémon Go, Monster Hunter Now and Dragon Quest Walk.
Notably, four of the top five location-based games are mobile entries in Japanese IP, where the genre is most popular both in terms of playtime and player spending. In fact, Japan’s $620 million contribution to the top games last year accounted for 50% of worldwide spending, at 1.6 times the revenue rate of US players.
According to Sensor Tower, Dragon Quest Walk was Japan’s biggest revenue generator in the geolocation genre in 2023, marking one major point of success for Square Enix among its many game closures. In fact, Dragon Quest Walk generated a remarkable $300 million last year - almost half of the top five geolocation games’ revenue for the year in Japan - and saw over 30% of players spending 10 hours per month in-game. It was the sixth-biggest revenue earner of any mobile game in the country, too.
Unsurprising from a Western perspective, Pokémon Go also ranked highly in the geolocation genre, coming out on top in the US and second in Japan. In fact, in the US, where $380 million was generated from geolocation games last year, $300 million of that came from spending in Pokémon Go.
Monster Hunter Now ranked third for revenue in Japan, giving Niantic two of the top three games, and firmly solidifies the title as Niantic’s second big hit. Third place is no mean feat, after all; especially for a game that launched in mid-September. Now went on to make over $100 million by the end of 2023.
Ticking all the right boxes
The geolocation genre at large saw high monthly playtimes in 2023, Sensor Tower observed, understandable given the time taken to walk and play, and the portable nature of mobiles being a core feature of the gameplay. Beyond that, Sensor Tower suggests many location-based titles suit "Japanese lifestyle habits".
The genre has a large female playerbase at roughly 40% in Japan, with an average user age of 35. This suggests people are playing on their way to and from work, as spikes are observed in the morning and early evening - unlike most mobile games’ 9 PM peak.
"Japan is a safe and secure environment where you can safely go out with your mobile device in hand, and new and existing location-based games may continue to appear at the top of the rankings," Sensor Tower added.
RPGs were also incredibly popular in Japan last year, up by 23.8% and generating $6.9 billion.