The Japanese Game Industry Grows For Third Straight Year (Thanks, Nintendo)

The Japanese video game industry continues to grow, as the market reported its third straight year of improvement. Thanks to a surge primarily fueled by various Nintendo releases and the popularity of the Switch, the market posted a 0.62% growth leaving its grand total of the last fiscal year at an impressive 436.85 billion yen (or $4.19 billion). This current trend is a tremendous reversal from the beginning of the previous decade and suggests that console gaming is healthier than ever.

For nearly six years, the Japanese gaming market experienced a downturn fueled by the rise of smartphone gaming as the industry lost a third of its revenue starting from 2016. Since then, the industry’s tremendous rebound is in full swing thanks to strong console sales along with a boost of sales from online platforms. Of all the game sales from 2019, nearly 40% were digital transactions.

There is no mistaking the biggest reason for the turnaround, and that’s the resurgence of Nintendo and the Switch’s formidable list of blockbuster titles. Aside from Monster Hunter World: Iceborne, Kingdom Hearts III and Minecraft, Nintendo titles had a stranglehold on the sales charts not unlike recently reported numbers from Switzerland where Mario Kart 8 Deluxe has remained a top-seller for each week of 2020.

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Nintendo has indeed propped up the markets in Japan, but the market faces some uncertainty going further into the year. The widespread panic of the coronavirus hasn’t shown any direct impact on gaming sales, but as multiple conventions and various esports competitions shut down out of concerns to public safety, it isn’t outside the realm of possibility the market will grow as more people opt to stay indoors.

With a new Animal Crossing game right around the corner as well as the impending release of Final Fantasy VII, not to mention the new consoles coming by years end, the health of the video game industry looks strong on paper. What will be interesting is seeing how the year plays out pending these new announcements and the evolution of the pandemic as it affects industries and persons all over the world.

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