Importance Of Live Ops In Japan


With continual user acquisition and strong live ops in Japan, we see many mobile games both domestic and foreign have extremely long lifecycles. But just how long are we talking about? We explored one of our favorite mobile games, Line Rangers, last year. However, the extremely long lifecycle of this game is no outlier.


As a Japanese marketing agency, we keep an eye on industry news and trends. Just this past week, a major Japanese mobile games studio, CyberAgent, reported their quarterly earnings for FY2019. In their report, we noticed one particularly interesting page where they break down their quarterly revenue over time. In fact, they disclose the breakdown of mobile games revenue based on the year they launched each of their games. What do you notice?


Major Japanese Studio’s Mobile Games Business: Quarterly Sales

Importance of Live Ops In Japan


That’s a lot of yellow!


A majority of the sales revenue for FY2018 comes from games launched in FY2014! Without going too in depth on CyberAgent’s games portfolio, this is incredibly insightful for foreign studios thinking about the Japanese market. Japanese players are very loyal to the games they play. Japanese companies launch mobile games with the intention of keeping them for a long time. As an example, look at Monster Strike or Puzzle & Dragons–both games have dominated the top grossing charts for years!


However, to keep your mobile game popular, you need to have strong live ops and longterm user acquisition strategy. You need to have interesting events and content, whether it’s limited release characters or a crossover event with another mobile game. You need strong community management and customer support.


And then keep in mind that this is only half of the equation. You also need to have a constant influx of new players to offset any lapsed users. By combining both, you can create a game and community that will last years.


What does this mean for non-Japanese studios?


As a foreign studio, these are the mobile games and studios you’re competing against. How can you break into an established market? As we’ve reported, Japanese players are more and more open to trying new games. We have seen an influx of new foreign mobile games in the top grossing charts. With the right market entry strategy and by being strategic in your user acquisition, pre-registration campaigns, and influencer marketing or other PR, you can level the playing field.


And once you have a strong player base, you can switch to a strong live ops strategy to keep them for a long time. Often times, you may a partner who can help you with one or the other (or even both). A local partner can help with localization, App Store Optimization, or even consult on the seasonality of mobile games in Japan. By leveraging their knowledge, you give yourself a leg up in the competitive Japanese mobile games market.


Interested in the Japanese mobile games market? Looking for a marketing partner to help ramp up your game? Or do you need help with localization and live ops in Japan yourself? Email us at info[at] or click below and let’s chat!


CyberAgent Quarterly Report can be found here.


By: Justin Endo. First Published: January 31, 2019.

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