Social Casino Games On Japanese App Store Top Grossing Charts

A look at Social Casino Games on the Japanese App Store Top Grossing Charts, particularly how domestic mobile games compare with foreign ones.

After reading an article on Pocket Gamer titled, “Just How Popular Are Social Casino Games on the App Store top grossing charts,” I thought it would be appropriate to look at the same in the Japanese App Store.

 

It’s not surprising that Japanese companies dominate the social casino gaming charts. As gambling is illegal in Japan (until recently legalized but still not public), most “gambling” takes place at pachinko parlors in the form of pachinko games (or virtual pachisuro games, or pachinko slots, covered in a previous blog). We see this influence in the app store. Most well performing social casino games in the Japanese app store are digital pachinko games.

 

Japanese App Store Rankings for Slots Games

 

One of the oldest and continual performers in this category in Japan is Commseed’s Guripachi.

 

Japanese App Store Ranking for Guri Pachinko

 

Similar to 777Next and other domestic social casino games, these games are mobile versions of their pachinko parlor counterparts. Because of the stigma associated with gambling and pachinko in Japan, it’s hard for these games to become mainstream. However, when we consider the consistent earnings for Guripuchi for the last 3 years, there is a sizeable niche market that spends money on pachinko or pachisuro (pachinko slots) mobile games in Japan. There are a few other pachinko slots games that are in the rankings. Some are old (over a year) and some use IP. There aren’t that many domestic players, especially compared to the US.

 

Looking at the first ranked foreign social casino game, we come to Huuuge Games’ Slots – Huuuge Casino.

 

Japanese App Store Ranking - Huuuge Games

 

I can’t say for sure, but I’d imagine that Huuuge Games started focusing on Japan around October 2016 which would account for the bump in the rankings. Whether this is in the form of paid user acquisition or liveops, I can’t say (but if I had to guess, it’s likely paid user acquisition). However, we don’t see that many other foreign games in the top 500 overall grossing. Playtika has their own localized version of slots for the Japanese market, Slot Mania Fever (スロットマニア・フィーバー~本場ラスベガススロット). Newcomer IGS has a game that jumped up into the top 500 grossing charts in Japan (Golden Tiger Slots), but it’ll be interesting to see if they can consistently stay in the charts (Golden Tiger Slots has been bouncing around 500-1000 or so).

 

Takeaways For Foreign Games In The Japanese App Store

 

What does this tell us? While the social casino games market in the rest of the world is mature, Japan still hasn’t taken to it. The Japanese app market has domestic games that seem to dominate this niche market. However, with the given increase in assumed spending on users from foreign games, we will likely see this market grow slowly until it reaches a sort of tipping point.

 

What will it take to reach that point? Perhaps if more social casino games will start investing in Japan, these games will seem more mainstream. It’s like the Machine Zone approach. Advertise until people like your game. Maybe social casino games have to advertise in Japan until people like the category. It’s like the expression, “A rising tide lifts all boats.”

 

Maybe these advertisers can focus less on gambling and more on other game mechanics. For example, you can take the Murka approach with Scatter Slots and add other non-traditional casino elements. I haven’t seen a slots game with RPG mechanics in Japan. Can this bridge the gap?

 

It’s difficult to put an exact timeline on this. However, I predict at some point, social casino games will become mainstream enough to reach a tipping point. Then, this market will grow substantially. Until then, it will just depend then if you want to be a first mover or a follower.

 

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