The many challenges of Japanese indie game developers: asobu’s survey results(#GDC2022)

asobu
6 min readJul 1, 2022

(The Japanese version of this article is here)

Hi everyone! It’s Anne, the manager of asobu, the Tokyo-based community space for indie devs.
I’ve been thrilled and humbled to be invited to talk during the Indie Game Summit at GDC 2022 about the situation of Japanese indie game developers and their challenges. (Articles in Japanese from Famitsu: here, and 4Gamer: here)
The talk session (video and slides) is available in the GDC Vault if you have access.

We’ll be doing a Japanese version of this talk on asobu’s Youtube channel on July 6th from 20:30 (Japan time) with Takaaki Ichijo. The original talk was limited to 30min, we’ll take our time to comment on the slides and add new info.
Link:
https://youtu.be/FbfDL1Q49Do

First, I would like to thank again the people who made this GDC talk possible:
- Justin Ma from Subset Games for the invitation and his patience to review the many drafts of the talk
- Takaaki Ichijo for helping to set up the survey, and his comments
- Terajima-san from Gamecast Blog, and Ezaki-san from Digital Game Expo for checking the indie game history part

Back in February 2022, I launched a small survey among Japanese indie devs to gather some data that has been used in this GDC talk.
Today I would like to share the whole survey data with you, in English and Japanese.

Before we start, here are some notes:

  • We announced this survey on asobu’s Twitter and asobu’s Discord in February for a short period, so we had only 67 people who replied. We know it’s a bit low for a panel, but the results are still interesting.
  • Most of the people who replied were asobu followers which means active indie game developers, not necessarily students or doujin game developers. I think this aspect biased some results.
  • Question 1 was about developers’ names (people were free to put their names or not), we skipped it in this report to preserve their anonymity.
  • Replies to questions 34–39 are non-edited participants’ replies. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflects asobu’s views.
  • If you would like to use this survey for an article or publish it somewhere else: please be sure to link this blog post and credit asobu. (Ideally, we would appreciate it if you can send us an email or message if you’d like to use this survey somewhere.)

Note about Question 2 results:
The results here might be a bit biased because it was mostly asobu’s followers replying. There are probably a bit more people in their twenties and some teens as well.

Note about Question 5 results:
Again the results here might be a bit biased because it was mostly asobu’s followers replying. The student part might a little bit higher in reality.

Note about Question 20 results:
- Comic Market (Comiket) is the biggest Japanese convention about amateur activities. More about it here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comiket
- DLSite, DMM Games, and Booth are Japanese platforms selling digital content (not only games).
- Doujin shops are physical or online shops reselling doujin material (games, fanzines, music, …)

Note about Question 21 results:
- Nico Nico Video (or Nico Nico Douga) is a Japanese video platform like Youtube.
- Ci-en, Fanbox, and Fantia are Japanese equivalents of Patreon or Ko-Fi.
- Pixiv is a Japanese platform for artists and illustrations like ArtStation or DeviantArt.
- Bili Bili is a Chinese video platform like Nico Nico Video (pop culture-oriented).
- Yoyaku Top 10 is a news portal for mobile games.

Note about results from Questions 34 to 39:
As said earlier, replies to questions 34–39 are non-edited participants’ replies. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect asobu’s views.

Thanks a lot to everyone who replied to the survey!
And Thanks a lot for reading!
If you have any comments or would like to discuss the matter, please come to our Discord: discord.gg/asobu or Twitter: https://twitter.com/asobudev

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asobu

asobuは渋谷にある独立系ゲームクリエイターのためのコミュニティーハブとワーキングスペース。 asobu is a community hub and working space for indie game creators in Japan. https://asobu.dev/