By Dr. Serkan Toto – On Japan's Game Industry

Japan’s Top Selling Video Games And Consoles In 2019


Data provider KADOKAWA Game Linkage just published an overview on the Japanese market for video games and console for 2019.

Overall, the entire industry (hardware and software including digital downloads) reached US$4.1 billion in CY 2019.

That’s a 0.6% increase year-on-year.

What I find remarkable is how, in terms of sales, mobile has been crushing the video game market in Japan over the last 10 years.

Every data provider in this country suggests smartphone gaming in Japan is about three times bigger than video gaming.

The serious money in Japan is in mobile, not so much in video games.

Video Game Hardware Sales In Japan In 2019

According to Kadokawa, console hardware sales slipped 6.2% to about US$1.5 billion.

The top console in Japan in 2019 was, unsurprisingly, Nintendo’s Switch.

Kadokawa says Nintendo sold 4.49 million Switches in 2019, a number that includes 1.04 million Switch Lites (this model went on sale in September 2019).

So I think it’s safe to say the Lite is a super hit indeed.

Sony sold 1.2 million PlayStation 4 units in Japan in 2019.

In other words, Nintendo commanded a market share of over 75% in Japan’s console hardware segment in 2019.

Of course, Sony’s PS4 is nearing the end of its lifecycle, but this kind of dominance is rare in Japan, “historically” speaking.

I would even say Japan’s video game market would have descended into irrelevance if the Switch wasn’t such a mega hit (imagine what would have happened if Nintendo launched a “second Wii U”, for instance).

Video Game Software Sales In Japan In 2019

On the software side, video game sales in Japan in 2019 amounted to about US$2.6 billion (again: digital included).

That’s a 5% increase, but by way of comparison: just the top 5 mobile games in Japan last year made more.

Here are the top 10 video games in Japan in 2019 by units sold:

  1. Pokémon Sword and Shield – NSW (3,725,694)
  2. Super Smash Bros Ultimate – NSW (1,371,979)
  3. Kingdom Hearts III – PS4 (996,125)
  4. Super Mario Maker 2 – NSW (963,104)
  5. Monster Hunter World: Iceborne – PS4 (829,610)
  6. New Super Mario U Deluxe – NSW (829,538)
  7. Monster Hunter World: Iceborne Master Edition – PS4 (811,626)
  8. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe – NSW (782,735)
  9. Minecraft – NSW (779,655)
  10. Luigi’s Mansion 3 – NSW (596,429)

These numbers are all Kadokawa estimates and not confirmed by the publishers.

*Currency conversion for all sums mentioned above: 100 yen = US$0.93 at time of writing.

About the author

Dr. Serkan Toto

I am the CEO & Founder of Tokyo-based Kantan Games Inc., an independent consultancy focused on Japan’s game industry.

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By Dr. Serkan Toto – On Japan's Game Industry