The love of entertainment is universal, regardless of nationality, race, creed, or any historical or sociocultural factors. What’s less universal is how this love is expressed, with each country having its own ideas about the flavor of the day. This disparity has occurred in all forms of media over the centuries, and recently, it made its way into video games.
Taking a look at what games are popular where can offer insight into a country, and the beliefs and values of its people. Exploring this idea between different nations can reveal some fascinating truths of who the population is, and their place on the global stage. With Japan, the US, and the UK, we want to take a look at what is different, and how regional tastes compare to international trends.
Should I do an animal crossing island tour soon? I’m only a 3rd done with my town right now though! 😭— Anon (@anonym_ose) April 21, 2021
Picture of my Japan inspired area! pic.twitter.com/QKrdQ2OJqg
Most Popular Games in Japan
As one of the big three video game producers, Japan has been at the forefront of the video gaming world since the NES first launched in 1983. Since then, many of the most influential games and gameplay developments have come from the land of the rising sun, where tastes are often quite different than they are in the west.
Japanese gamers love their console and handheld gaming. The latest game in the Animal Crossing series became the quickest to sell over six million copies across Japan. Another popular game in Japan is still Pokémon Go. Throughout 2019, gamers across Japan logged almost 15 million hours on the game which is available as a free download.
Additionally, Japanese players are often eager to step outside of strict video games and into the world of casinos with online games. Tastes here are rarely restricted to one type of game, though slots such as Payday and Ancient Eclipse often prove popular. Past this point, other successful online casino titles in Japan include poker, blackjack, and roulette.
Most Popular Games in the United States
The United States video games industry is also huge. Fortnite, a game first released in 2017, is still one of the most popular games. Over half of the gamers that play Fortnite in the United States don’t play anything else. The game has also become hugely popular amongst the YouTube vlogging community.
Also extremely popular in the US are combat games like the Call of Duty and Battlefield series. With huge player bases driving continual engagement, the glorification of fictitious war in America is reflective of western media as a whole, which often focuses on battle and brave heroes.
Most Popular Games in the UK
With most in the UK being crazy about football, it’s no surprise that FIFA is one of the most popular video game series. Huge amounts of people play the games online, with Ultimate Team being one of the most active modes within the series. Of course, a lot of popularity in this realm also goes to FPS titles, with the UK similar to the US in this respect.
Most Popular Worldwide
So we have seen the types of games popular in different parts of the world, so it is worth exploring what is the most popular game in a pan-global sense?
In terms of console gaming, there do tend to be differences in the games that are most popular. Some games such as Monster Hunter will sell far more copies in Japan, but others are more universally popular. One example of this is Animal Crossing. In addition to the huge amounts of copies sold in Japan, it is played and loved by gamers in both the United Kingdom and the United States.
On the largest scale, it’s games with a sense of freedom that are most successful on the global stage. Here, titles like Minecraft and GTA5 are popular the world over, with enduring fame to this day. As for the future of gaming popularity, that’s a difficult guess. While existing patterns will likely persist, the connectivity as afforded by the internet has continued to break down the gaming walls that separated us. While we wouldn’t expect the likes of Monster Hunter to completely shift focus to the west, sales numbers have shown expanding international attention. For the sake of a bigger, healthier, and more inclusive industry, we can only hope this pattern remains.