Japan has long been at the forefront of technological developments, particularly where the entertainment industry is concerned. A leading light in the world of gaming, its innovators are responsible for everything from classic Sega and Nintendo arcade games all the way through to some of the biggest titles of the PlayStation 2 era (we’re talking Final Fantasy and Resident Evil here).
And yet some argue that the country’s gaming industry is slowly decaying. With prominent western developers now frequently matching the quality and output of the once inarguable king, it seems that the unique world of Japanese gaming could be on the decline.
Unless, that is, you take a look at the bigger picture…
A thriving industry
One of the many factors used to support the contention that Japan’s gaming industry could soon be on its knees is the illegality of land-based casinos, but this is a very reductive view, and one that does little to recognise the unique nature of Japanese gaming. Yes, certain forms of gambling are unlawful, but one need only look at the popularity of online bingo to see that the sector remains strong. In addition to internet gambling and gaming, pachinko machines – and the parlours that house them – are also thriving.
A virtual future
The Japanese enjoy gaming as much as they ever have, and whilst there is a market for these products, there will always be continuing development to facilitate it. No matter what the naysayers say when they have the wind in their sails, the country is currently proving just how far ahead it is in terms of its technological advances, by meeting its competitors’ releases with its own amazing innovations. From the first affordable virtual reality headsets to plenty of other inventions that we’ve never seen before, the Japanese appear as eager as ever to invest in the future of their gaming industry.
Mobile gaming growth
Another market that must be taken into account when measuring a country’s contribution to gaming is the mobile sector. Although Japan may no longer boast the biggest video game market in the world, it does lay claim to the world’s largest market for mobile games. This has an estimated worth of around $6 billion – around six-tenths of the Japanese gaming sector’s overall value. With smartphones becoming ever more advanced, and other technologies increasingly redundant, this puts it in an incredibly strong position moving forwards.
When it comes to the gaming sector, there is often a tendency to suggest that Japan will increasingly fall behind its competitors due to its restrictive gambling laws. What this fails to take into account is that these only apply to land-based concerns; online, the rules are very different. There is a huge market for offshore operators (some of these home-grown but operated from overseas) to capitalize on, and a healthy gambling industry as a result. Indeed, although niche, there are plenty of internet gaming destinations specifically aimed at Japanese players, typically offered by well-known outfits like williamhill.com. These provide gamers with the opportunity to gamble in their own language, so that they’re given the best possible chance of success.
When it comes to the gaming industry, Japan has always been at its forefront: a leading light amongst a sea of less advanced competitors, all of them flailing around in the dark and waiting for it to show them the way. The fact that some are now beginning to catch up does nothing to detract from this: it simply means that some countries are strengthening their position, not that Japan – the inarguable king of technology – is weakening in any way.