Japan Data

“Disney Tsum Tsum” Ahead of “Pokémon Go” in 2018 Mobile Game Ranking

Economy Culture

Japan’s top mobile games fill spare moments for huge numbers of players.

On Japan’s busy commuter trains, nearly everyone is staring at a smartphone. Although one might imagine they are checking up on the latest news, it turns out that most are engrossed in games—sometimes to the point where they keep playing even after exiting the train and walking along the platform.

Gaming publisher Gzbrain estimated the total value of the worldwide mobile game market in 2018 as ¥6.96 trillion, a 1.7-fold increase in just three years, compared to the ¥4.12 trillion market in 2015. By region, the 2018 market was ¥4.27 trillion in Asia, ¥1.55 trillion in North America, and ¥0.78 trillion in Europe.

Gzbrain also compiled statistics on the number of players per game and total playing time to use as a basis for a ranking of Japan’s most popular smartphone games.

For the third consecutive year, Line: Disney Tsum Tsum was ranked number one. Buoyed by the Disney brand, the puzzle game is particularly popular with female players. Several of the top-ranked games are enjoyed casually in spare moments by large user bases.

Top 10 Most Popular Smartphone Games in 2018 (Users × Playing Time)

Rank Title Cumulative Play Points
1 Line: Disney Tsum Tsum 756,790
2 Pokémon Go 683,258
3 Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp 422,996
4 Puzzle & Dragons 362,340
5 Monster Strike 333,428
6 Fate/Grand Order 342,138
7 Line: Poko Poko 237,435
8 Granblue Fantasy 227,648
9 The Idolmaster Cinderella Girls: Starlight Stage 179,174
10 Knives Out 169,262

Created by Nippon.com based on the Famitsū Mobile Gaming White Paper 2019.

Many smartphone games themselves can be downloaded for free, but earn money from players via microtransactions for extra items that provide advantages. The ranking for games by microtransactions revenue saw Monster Strike and Fate/Grand Order as far and away the top earners, with nearly twice the revenue as number-three Puzzle & Dragons.

Top 10 Smartphone Games by Microtransactions Earnings in 2018

Rank Title Revenue (¥ billion)
1 Monster Strike 93.3
2 Fate/Grand Order 88.5
3 Puzzles & Dragons 48.7
4 Knives Out 40.4
5 Dragon Ball Z: Dokkan Battle 34.0
6 Line: Disney Tsum Tsum 27.0
7 Granblue Fantasy 26.4
8 Pokémon Go 25.1
9 Power Pros 21.9
10 The Idolmaster Cinderella Girls: Starlight Stage 20.2

Created by Nippon.com based on the Famitsū Mobile Gaming White Paper 2019.

There are stories online of people spending as much as ¥1 million to up their game performance, and this can happen before players even realize how much they are spending.  

Billing users is easy because smartphones can be directly linked to credit cards, leaving the onus on players to exercise enough patience and self-restraint to not lose themselves in a game.

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo © Pixta.)

smartphone gaming