The following are the major players and their consoles in the video
game industry of Japan:
Sony - PlayStation 2
Nintendo - GameCube
Microsoft - XBox
(Sega - Dreamcast)
Please see this page for a very good overview of the industry and
Buzz Online - Game Industry Roundup (by Navin K. Prasad)
Sony's PlayStation 2 can be considered "the king in the video game
industry". Taken together, Sony and Nintendo dominate about two-thirds
of the video game market. In Japan, video gaming is a $9 billion
Business Baron - Domestic And US Sales Shoot Up Significantly
The following page gives information on the competition and prices:
News.com - GameCube price to be lowered in Japan
GameCube is the console selling cheapest in Japan (with about $159, or
19,800 yen). Nintendo is also the company behind GameBoy, GameBoy
color, and most recently the hugely popular GameBoy Advanced handheld.
They expect a group net profit of $884 million on sales of $4.42
billion. 1.57 million GameCube consoles have been sold between
September 2001, the day of its debut, and the end of March 2002.
In the highly competitive price wars in the Japan console market,
Microsoft is doing well, but wants to cut the price too from $280 to
$199, aiming to take a bigger share.
Sony is slightly behind but also lowering the $240 price tag of its
PlayStation 2. (This system originally unveiled in March 2000.)
Sega Dreamcast (which replaced Sega's older Saturn system) didn't
quite make it in the market and becomes another obscure system for
which not much new games will be released.
There are many software players in this game. Typically, a strong
software title is licensed for a single game console only and can be
the decisive factor for it to sell. One of the most popular games is
the Final Fantasy series by Tokyo-based Square Electronic Arts, with
sales for its latest installment (Final Fantasy X) in the millions in
Japan alone. See:
GigNews.com Breaking News February 2002 - Final Fantasy X hits
million-unit sales mark
The software for Nintendo is led by various Mario Bros. games, Zelda,
and as of recently also has the Resident Evil series under its hood.
Dreamcast had the ShenMue series, which is now moving to other
But PlayStation 2 can be considered leading in the field of games
quantity. One reason is that older games made for PlayStation 1 (of
which there were plenty) also work with their latest system. Titles
include Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, Gran Turismo, Metal Gear Solid, Grand
Theft Auto, all game series that are continued over the years,
assembling a large fan base.
For an overview of the history of gaming in Japan, focussing on
Nintendo's success story and recent gaming history, please see:
Classic Gaming - Hiroshi Yamauchi retires from Nintendo
Nick Sherriff on the history of video games
There is also a very good book covering Nintendo and the Japanese
gaming industry history:
Game Over - Press Start To Continue (by David Sheff, Andy Eddy)
Quote the book description at Amazon.com: "Game Over is a masterful
piece of business journalism and technical reportage".
A reviewer adds: "this book is positively required reading for anybody
even remotely interested in how the game business really works".
Video games in Japan are part of everyday pop culture, along with the
comic market of Manga/ Anime, and various high-tech games like the
Popular Culture of Japan
And also this elaborate and interesting article:
Washington Post April 2000 - Games People Play (by Libby Copeland)
"And it means that the stereotype of the gamer as a glazed, incoherent
teenage boy is wrong: 35 percent of video game players are women now;
54 percent are over 18. When Sony released its revolutionary
PlayStation 2 in Japan on March 4, nearly 1 million of the gaming
consoles sold in three days. (...) Hundreds of cell-chatting Japanese
camped out in Tokyo's electronics district, waiting to plunk down $370
for their own little piece of the future."
I hope this helps!
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Clarification of Answer by
27 Jul 2002 06:25 PDT
Following is a resource that clarifies the government's role in
regulating the Japan video game industry:
USA Today Game Zone 11/2000 - Japan struggles with violent games
"Japan (...) does not have a ratings system for games. [Game creator]
Inafune may not like children playing [his game] Onimusha, but he has
no way to warn them or their parents. In the past, that was never a
problem in Japan, a culture known for its lack of violent crime. But
the country has seen a rise in teen violence over the past few years
-- sparking the same kind of media examination as in the USA."
This is where the CESA comes into play:
"In response to the trend, the Japanese video game industry several
years ago created a trade organization called the Computer
Entertainment Software Association (CESA). Similar in concept to the
U.S. Interactive Digital Software Association, CESA provides
leadership in the industry and represents it to the government."
Yoichi Haraguchi, director of the consumer sales department at Namco,
"CESA has its own controlling system on issues such as violence and
The article states there may one day be a rating system, but "in the
meantime, [Japanese games] must be approved by CESA. But CESA has no
written code and no guidelines for warning labels on games."
The English homepage of the CESA can be found at:
And in the wake of September 11, some companies enforce
self-regulation in advertisement:
Pre-emptive Censorship and Video Games
"In Japan, ads for Ace Combat 4 showing planes flying around buildings
disappeared off television. A look at Nintendo's web site reveals
little to no promotion of the military strategy title Advance Wars"
In Japanese media in general (especially here in Manga/ Anime), while
violence and sexual content is often tolerated, explicit graphical
nudity is not:
Senses of Cinema - The Unkindest Cut of All?
"Japanese censorship laws (...) allowed graphic representations of
violence (...) but forbad the explicit display of sexual organs and
pubic hair. This taboo originated in the Meiji era and was connected
to the campaign of the Japanese state to be accepted by the Western
powers as a modern civilized state"
The Librarian's Guide to Anime and Manga
"Nudity is not too unusual in some anime and manga (...) Adult
genitals are only shown in pornographic anime or manga and even then
only rarely. Until recently in the original Japanese releases of anime
and manga genitals were either not shown, covered over with a black
dot, or, in anime, covered with large pixels due to Japanese
And there are certain hardware export regulations:
USA Today Game Zone quoting Mainichi newspaper
"Japan's Trade Ministry will require special permits to export the
new, hot-selling [PlayStation 2] after labeling it a device that can
be adapted for military use"
The same is verified by the two following sources:
BBC News - Military fears over PlayStation2
ZDNet UK News - Is PlayStation2 a military weapon?
Hope that helps!
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