Hidden Object Games In Japan And Their Success


For this week’s blog post, we take a look at hidden object games in Japan. While there are several kinds of games that might be considered “hidden object games,” for the purposes of this post, we’re talking about any game where you tap on your screen on objects to advance in the game.


Hidden Object Games On Japan’s Top Charts


Perhaps the most popular hidden object game in Japan ever is Hap’s “Hidden my game by my mom.” It’s a completely free game with funny characters. The premise is that your mom hid your game system and you must find it. The animation is a bit rudimentary but that said, it’s a part of the charm. It became a cultural phenomenon with multiple sequels. The original still ranks in the top download charts. This game does not have any in-app purchases and is supported entirely by ads.


Hidden my game by my mom hidden object games in japan

Chart courtesy of App Annie.


This style of lower quality, ad-supported hidden object game was trendy in Japan several years ago. Hidden object games in Japan never really had a premium look to them. It took an outsider, G5 Entertainment, to change up the category with their take on hidden object games, Hidden City.


Hidden City G5 Hidden Object Games In Japan

Chart courtesy of App Annie.


As you can see in the last 3 months, G5 has been able to retain its strong position on the top grossing charts in Japan.


While Hidden my game by my mom is more of a mainstream, casual (almost hypercasual) game, Hidden City is more of a midcore game meant to be played in longer sessions. Smartly, it targets an underrepresented segment in the mobile gaming market in Japan: female 30s+. This group is highly under-tapped in Japan as most domestic studios are focused on hardcore gamers (male-skewed). If a studio makes casual games for females, they tend to skew a bit younger (females 20s-30s, think cute casual games like Tsum Tsum Disney). Hidden City fulfills a niche that the domestic players were neglecting.


What Does This Mean For Foreign Mobile Studios In Japan?


If you have a game that’s unique, Japan has really started to open up to new games. While the domestic players have really focused on tried-and-true games (JRPG/Japanese RPGs, casual+RPG elements, strategy games, or casual), foreign studios have the opportunity to introduce new games. One interesting note about Hidden City is that the in-game artwork is not culturalized. Not only is it a unique category, but part of the appeal is also that it does not have a Japanese look and feel. The gameplay is simple and the artwork is exotic and high quality. As a result, the high-quality hidden object game category in Japan has grown exponentially as we’ve seen other studios mimic G5’s success.


While a bit tricky, you first need to decide how to introduce your game to the market, especially if it’s a new genre. Do you invest heavily into paid user acquisition in Japan? Or do you leverage Youtubers and other influencers to demonstrate hype and credibility of your game? And how do you get the most from your App Store Optimization in Japan?


Do you have a hidden object game you want to advertise in Japan? Or do you have a unique game that can break out in the Japanese mobile games market? Email us at info[at]yengage.net to have Japan’s top advertising agency (us!) take a look and have a chat!


All charts courtesy of App Annie. Accessed October 5, 2018.


By: Justin Endo. First Published: October 5, 2018.

Contact Us

Interested in hearing more about what we can do for you? Send your questions to Yengage here or click on the right to fill out a form. We'll get back to you as soon as we can!