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RPG, adventure or Waifu? Which genre has made Japan's players the most monetised?

So far, revenue from in-app purchases has surpassed $9 billion in Japan this year
RPG, adventure or Waifu? Which genre has made Japan's players the most monetised?
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Japan is leading the world when it comes to money spent in-game compared to the number of players, with its mobile game earnings per download now four times ahead of the US.

This accomplishment has been revealed by Sensor Tower in its latest report, 2023 Japan Mobile Game Market Insights, detailing Japan’s performance between January and August this year.

Genres taking the lead

Revenue from in-app purchases has surpassed $9 billion in Japan this year, with local giants such as Bandai Namco at the helm. Sensor Tower predicts that full-year revenue for 2023 will come to approximately $14 billion, making Japan the third-largest market for mobile games anywhere in the world.

The current $9 billion this year represents 18% of global mobile games revenues, and significantly, these earnings are the highest in the world per player; gamers have spent an average of $21 each on Japanese mobile games in 2023.

As for the genres boosting Japan to such lofty heights, RPGs lead the charge in making up 48% of the country’s mobile revenue, coming predominantly from in-app purchases. The fastest-growing RPG in Japan is, to no surprise, this year’s Chinese superstar Honkai: Star Rail.

The gaming genres placing second and third in the Japanese market are adventure and "Waifu-themed", with approximately $1.6 billion and $1.2 billion in revenue this year respectively. Interestingly, Sensor Tower notes that while RPGs lead in revenue, and “Waifu-themed" games have grown by 11% this year, it is in fact the adventure genre that’s proving most profitable.

Revenues are down from their 2021 peak, however. That year, in-app purchase revenue reached an all-time high in Japan of $17.8 billion, still ahead of this year’s projected $14 billion. Despite this, 2023 has at least been a step in the right direction, reversing the fall seen in 2022.

Downloads in Japan, meanwhile, saw their peak in 2020. Almost 800 million mobile game installs occurred within the year, dropping ever since. This year represents a return to course here too, with 420 million so far and 620 million expected by the end of 2023.

Sensor Tower’s full report delves deeper into the top performers in the Japanese market, as well as local games’ performance in overseas markets. The analyst's other recent reports have revealed that the puzzle genre has generated $42 billion in lifetime revenue, and almost half of the simulation genre's revenue now comes from the US.