Japan is a gaming nation as is clearly indicated by the numbers. There are some 67.6 million gamers in Japan, and the majority of them tend to play the same online games. Mobile gaming is king but there is a growing appetite for eSports. Video games played in a more competitive way are gaining traction.

Today, Japan is one of the most passionate nations about gaming. Japan’s population is comparatively small for the region. Yet it’s still the third-largest gaming market, right behind the United States and China.

Japanese residents are passionate gamers. Their preferences can be summed up in five titles. Games that have achieved fame in the Country of the Rising Sun and well beyond. Let’s take a look at what titles excite Japan’s gamers and more importantly, why.

League of Legends

League of Legends (LoL) is a global phenomenon boasting more than 100 million players. A growing number of players these days are from Japan. More now that the country now allows people to compete for a chance to be professional gamers.

The League of Legends Japan League was established in 2014. In 2018 a new government program allowed official licenses to recognize professional gamers. This new system allowed the LoL League to flourish and grow.

The positive change in legislation impacted both casual and professional gaming. More opportunities are now available for all gamers. League of Legends is one of the most popular titles today. It shares a design and visual style very familiar to other gaming franchises popular in Japan.

Overwatch

With fast-paced gameplay, Overwatch is one of the best and most popular online video games. It is a popularity that extends to gamers in Japan. Overwatch is a first-person shooter that adds excitement with unique characters and special abilities.

The game is incredibly popular with casual gamers in Japan. However, this hasn’t translated into a huge professional Overwatch scene. There are only a few distinguished players from Japan playing Overwatch professionally. This is not a bad thing per se. Players focus more on the joy of gaming rather than try and outsmart each other in a competitive setting.

There are no official statistics on the exact number of Overwatch players in Japan. Blizzard has noted that there is an increased demand for console versions of Overwatch. Console players prefer to play Overwatch with a joystick rather than a keyboard and a mouse. Japan is a console gaming nation, so it’s easy to see why Overwatch is only recently more popular there.

Free Fire

Free Fire is a real blast in Japan and Asian countries as a whole. Developed by Garena, Free Fire is one of the biggest games anywhere in the region.  The next big tournament for the game is set to take place outside of Japan, but still in Asia. The Free Fire World Series will return to Asia in May 2022 to Singapore. The tournament will also return to live audiences, should travel restrictions ease up. Free Fire has billions of downloads globally. Unlike the PC vs Console debate with Overwatch, Japan’s culture of mobile gaming helps Free Fire. Japanese gamers are very happy to join this battle royale game as well.

Minecraft

Creativity and inventiveness are important parts of Japanese culture in general. Its easy to see why many Japanese gamers would be drawn to Minecraft. The game’s status as a globally popular game has long been established. Japanese gamers are also part of the popularity. It turns out building worlds with limitless potential is universally exciting. The game’s sustained appeal in Japan comes from at least several factors:

  • Complete control over the experience
  • Stimulates creativity and inventiveness
  • No restrictions on the players

These three criteria define Minecraft as one of the most compelling gaming titles on the Japanese market.

Super Smash Bros.

Developed by Nintendo, Super Smash Bros. is a defining game in Japan’s rich gaming history. The game brings the entire Nintendo universe in one wacky game. Beloved characters brawl it out to the delight of players. No matter the Nintendo game you love, there’s a character you’ll enjoy in Super Smash Bros.

Super Smash Bros. is also a game that adapts well to competitive tournaments. Japan hosts many tournaments for Super Smash Bros. They’ve proved a real hit with players of all ages and social backgrounds.

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