Man playing smartphone game

Project Background:

Working with a leading global smartphone gaming company to understand Japanese user preferences and offer localization recommendations for smartphone games entering the Japan market.

Project Goals:

  1. Understanding Japanese gamer's preferences in relation to navigation and visual design
  2. Understanding what attracts Japanese gamers to try out a certain title
  3. Discovering how Japanese gamers enjoy smartphone games throughout their day


Duration: 2 months

Users Studied: 11 (Qualitative Study)

Team Members: Myself (Japan UX researcher), Client Side Researcher and Project Manager

Methods: In-Depth Qualitative User Interviews and User Tests

Deliverables: Translated Transcripts, Findings & Recommendations Report (Including interview quotes, theme analysis etc.), highlight videos


1. Client Alignment

  • Held meetings with client to understand their goals for the project.
  • Reviewed client hypotheses and created research plan and interview scripts accordingly.

2. Participant Recruiting

  • Worked with client to create screener
  • Recruited Japanese user test participants through local recruiting partner

3. Qualitative User Interviews

  • Conducted 11 sessions with Japanese users over Zoom, consisting of both user interviews and short users tests where participants showed gameplay in their favorite games
  • I conducted the interviews in Japanese, and had simultaneous interpreting to allow the client to follow along and ask additional questions.

4. Analysis and Final Report

  • English transcripts were created for all interviews
  • Results were analyzed by theme to highlight common findings
  • Specific recommendations were provided for future localization of smartphone games into the Japanese market

Selected Findings

Participants preferred games with familiar navigation, but a unique visual design and atmosphere.
Participants in Tokyo reported that they usually play games on the train, and preferred those that had short levels that can be played in bursts.
Cute and appealing characters were more important than the quality of graphics in a participant's decisions to try a new game.
Participants felt uncomfortable using online multiplayer modes until they felt confident with the controls, not wanting to inconvenience other players.


Take the first step to launch in Japan

Book a Free Consultation