Japanese Gaming Industry Overview

newsonjapan.com -- Jun 15
It is impossible to talk about video games without thinking about how big of an impact Japan had and still has in it.

It is known for having big names like Nintendo, Sega, Sony Square Enix, among many others. Japan still has one of the largest gaming cultures in the world, and it still has an enormous impact on the gaming industry. One of its most unique aspects is just how popular arcade centers are in it. Some games are only released in them, and exclusive to it.

Other than being extremely known for having all these big companies, the Japanese industry is mainly responsible for the genre of RPGs. They are responsible for giving us such titles as the Final Fantasy franchise and also Dragon Quest.

What made games popular in Japan, was Space Invaders, which was created by Tomohiro Nishikado at Taito Corporation in 1978. Its success was known as being responsible for the start of what is called the Golden Age of Arcade Games. Pac-Man and Donkey-Kong Jr. are other titles that were extremely popular around that time.

A couple of years later, Japan introduced to the world a line of handheld electronics called Game and Watch, which was the first successful Nintendo product. Two years later, the Famicom was released, and after a few issues with its launch, it, later on, became the best-selling gaming console in Japan. And in that console, we were given game titles like the legendary The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario Bros., Final Fantasy XI, and many other games that are now huge franchises. So there is no way to associate the story of video games without thinking about Japan. At the start of the story of consoles and games, consoles like the NES and the GameWatch handheld are mainly responsible for making games popular and introducing genres of games that are extremely popular nowadays.

Later on in the mid-1990s, we got the fifth generation of games consoles, that introduced the Sega Saturn, Playstation, and the Nintendo 64, and those were responsible for giving the world a 3D experience of games, with titles such as Super Mario 64, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Spyro, Crash Bandicoot among other amazing games. But there is no way to talk about this generation without talking about how much one of the games released for the Playstation made RPGs games become a worldwide sensation. In 1997 Final Fantasy VII was released, and it is still considered one of the most influential games of all time. It showed just how big and immersive a game can be. With 3D characters and full-motion CGI, Final Fantasy VII showed how great a game can be.

Back in 1996, the first Tokyo Game Show was presented. It has been a yearly event since then, and it is the stage for big companies like Sony Computer Entertainment, Bandai Namco, and Square Enix to showcase the latest news about their upcoming titles.

How it Influenced the World

Although not being responsible for creating video games, Japan really embraced it and invested in it with so much passion, and it paid off. Without a doubt, the gaming industry wouldn’t be what it is today without Japan’s contribution. Not only did it give the world numerous amazing games, but also produced amazing consoles, hardware, and software.

Games like Super Mario, Resident Evil, and Pokemon were a huge influence on their specific genres back in the day, and they are still extremely popular. Resident Evil brought horror to games, and Resident Evil 4 is still regarded as one of the best games ever made. So Japan influenced games of all kinds of genres and is responsible for inspiring a lot of other games.

And video games are also influential in an educational way in Japan, as there are many games that are used to teach children basic math and grammar. It does not stop there, as games also influenced TV programs, as animations based on specific games started being produced, to further target the audience, and the same can be said about movies. There have been movie adaptations of games for a long time, and now it is starting to become even more popular.

The music industry was also affected by video games and genius composers like Nobuo Uematsu, responsible for the Final Fantasy soundtrack game to light. Outside of Japan, it also became popular for famous composers like Trent Reznor to produce the soundtrack for games.

Japan is known as being one of the biggest forces in the industry, and although western companies have begun to grow, Japan still has an enormous influence. Companies like Square Enix teamed up with Disney to give us games like the Kingdom Hearts Franchise, and recently, Marvel’s Avenger. So it is safe to say that companies like Square Enix are still the go-to when thinking about RPG games.

And let’s not forget about fighting games too, titles like Street Fighter, Tekken and, Super Smash Bros. are still extremely popular in the fighting game community. These three are still ongoing titles, and their fan base grows more and more. We can see a showcase of skills of famous fighting games in events like EVO, a fighting game tournament that is held yearly, that gathers players around the world to face each other in different games. There are titles like Mortal Kombat, but most of the games seen in it are from Japanese companies.

What’s to Come

Ever since Japan joined the gaming industry, it has always been a powerhouse, and its reputation and influence only grew bigger with time. It is not only responsible for giving us legendary games that will go down in history, but also consoles that shook the gaming world.

Nintendo and Sony are still the biggest companies currently, and there is no doubt that their popularity will only grow. There is a lot to look forward to in the future, especially with events like TGS and Playstation Experience that are still going to happen later this year.