New iPhone Values AR Gaming More Than Ever

At the AppleEvent today, there was dedicated time for AR mobile game during the New iPhone presentation. What does the new iPhone launch event mean to foreign game developers? It means good things to come.

At the #AppleEvent today, there was a specific time for Augmented Reality (AR) mobile games during the new iPhone presentation.

AR has been a big topic in the gaming industry for some time (especially since Pokemon Go), however, it hasn’t been quite as hot among Japanese consumers, especially compared to people here in the Bay Area where many gaming tech leaders are.

Japanese consumers will actually start talking about AR now

Yes, AR is cool and Pokemon Go succeeds worldwide. However, we have not seen another Pokemon Go since July 2016 when Niantic launched the first Pokemon Go game. When Pokemon Go came out, did people say or think “Oh this is a cool and fun AR mobile game!”? The answer is no. Japan is pretty behind in the digital world, both industry-wise and consumers-wise, even though they invented so many hi-tech electronics products, cars, and services. When it comes to AR and VR, Japanese consumers are not as savvy as people here. Of course, people in the Bay Area are the most “Tech-savvy” so it isn’t totally a fair comparison.


Today during Apple Event, Apple made time for AR gaming during the new iPhone presentation. From this moment, AR game is not the inside topic for gaming developers anymore. It became one of the hot topics being talked about at the consumer level.


What does new iPhone launch event mean to foreign game developers wanting to expand in the Japanese market?

With the world market leader, Apple, took a specific time for AR game at their new iPhone launching event. We are assuming you can see the following three changes in the Japanese market soon.


1. People will start recognizing AR game as a game category not sub-category for mobile games.


AR game will be so much closer to Japanese consumers. Anybody with new iPhone would want to try out AR game. ( You know since it became handy and easy to access to new savvy tech from Silicon Valley!) Most people won’t buy new phones to only experience AR but they would most likely try if it comes with new iPhone. That means it lowers the hurdle for Japanese consumers to play AR game.


2. A new market opportunity for foreign developers.


Even Japan is one of the largest game markets, it has been known as one of the most difficult markets to enter for foreign developers due to the cultural differences and domination by big publishers like Bandai Namco, Sega or Square Enix.


However, for AR game, it is such a new tech, it needs experts to develop high-quality AR mobile games, which seems to be lacking in Japan right now. That means foreign developers might have higher chance to position their games as a high-quality AR game in Japan and get a strong position before big Japanese publishers.


3. User Acquisition costs might go down.


Right now most mobile games’ targets are 20-40s males. That means, when it comes to bidding in user acquisition (UA) campaigns, lots of middle and small size mobile games are bidding against those big guys, like MZ, Mixi, who would spend more than a million dollars per month on advertising. This is one of the reasons why Japan is difficult to enter.


On the other hand, AR games have a technological element other than straight gameplay which typically focused on male players. AR mobile games, depending on their contents, can expand their targets to include more female players by introducing more AR features. AR is something everybody, not only gamers, can enjoy. (just think about Pokemon go). That means there are some female focused medias that studios can start advertising on.


Not only on the bidding side, but also there will be more marketing channels you can choose from, too. Right now there are only a limited number of quality channels in Japan for mobile games. With AR, it can expand the variety of media and influencers.


Act fast. 

Before the new iPhone presentation, AR has been the hot topic for the gaming industry, however, from now on, it will be the topic for the average Japanese consumer as well. If you are planning on developing AR mobile games, act quickly and market well, before the market becomes a red ocean in Japan.

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