Contact us

11th May 2023

Game Over for the West?

How Japan dominates gaming innovation

Share this page:


Gaming is often at the forefront of innovation, with companies embracing new technology to satisfy their customers’ demand for novelty.

The industry was an early proponent of augmented reality, voice control and facial recognition to gain the competitive advantage in captivating their users’ attention.

This continual adoption of new technology makes it the perfect industry to examine with Cipher’s Universal Technology Taxonomy (UTT).

Our UTT divides inventions into predefined technology categories, creating a landscape that reveals global trends. This presents a quick and efficient way to understand both long and short term developments in gaming.

Our definition of ‘gaming’

For clarification, the UTT defines gaming inventions as:

“Games played on computers and laptops, handheld devices, game consoles, phones and tablets. Also included are: gaming controllers, card, board, gambling games and all toys”.

This is the definition we apply throughout our analysis.

In this report, we focus on two key areas:

  1. Top Invention Owners
  2. Top Innovators

Through examining these key areas, we discovered four unexpected trends:

  • Geographical imbalance
    Japan dominates the list of top inventors and innovators. In both the short and long term, they are responsible for a large percentage of technological development. Western companies trail far behind Japan
  • Gambling rather than computers drive innovation
    Gambling companies lead the way in number of inventions, particularly slot machine manufacturers. Video game companies are responsible for far less innovation
  • Pachinko drives the most innovation
    Manufacturers of the Japanese game ‘pachinko’ are the leading inventors. It is a game mostly unknown outside of Japan, but it dominates the global technology landscape
  • Long-term and short-term trends are similar
    The trends in short-term and long-term innovators vary little, suggesting that the gaming space is stable and unchanging.

Key takeaway

Overall, this report argues that gaming technology is reliant on Japanese companies, with the Western world contributing little. While some may find Japan’s prominence in gaming unsurprising, their level of domination is unexpected.

Full Cipher report on gaming technology


Gaming report

The full report has sections on:

  • Types of inventions owned
  • Which type of companies own these inventions
  • Which game exploits a loophole in the ban on gambling in Japan

Cipher’s Universal Technology Taxonomy

Cipher’s unique Universal Technology Taxonomy (UTT) takes millions of assets and sorts them into:

  • 10 Technology Superclasses
  • 122 Technology Sub-classes

The UTT supports data exploration to answer patent search questions.  It also demonstrates a range of intelligence for benchmarking, competitor analysis and investment activity.

With relative ease, the UTT can figure out the innovation leaders and laggards in particular area of technology, such as sustainable development.

Learn more about the Universal Technology Taxonomy
UTT Superclasses

Insights & Thought Leadership

21st Century Evolution of Sustainable Plastic Technology Trends

To mark World Environment Day, Cipher tracks sustainable plastics technology innovators and owners in the 21st century.
Read more

The increasing importance of IP

How intellectual property (IP) moved into the business mainstream, as seen from the perspective of guests on the Cipher Vision Podcast.
Read more

Game Over for the West?

Our report looking at patent owners of gaming technology found that Japanese firms dominated but it also uncovered some unexpected trends.
Read more

Could NPEs stifle innovation in sustainable energy?

Patents owned by sustainable energy organisations may be at risk from NPEs, which could stifle any innovation and development of technologies in this area.
Read more

LOT Network Report 2022

The 2022 report, produced for the organisation by Cipher, highlights that none of the assets which have left LOT Network have been used against its members.
Read more

Cipher is now part of LexisNexis Intellectual Property

Update: We are pleased to announce that the customary regulatory clearances have been received and the acquisition has officially closed.
Read more

With Cipher you can…

Portfolio Optimisation connecting cogs

Optimise your portfolio

Ensure you have the right portfolio to meet your strategic patenting objectives.

Read more
Competitive Intelligence

Gather competitor intelligence

Understand who’s doing what by automating patent to technology mapping.

Read more
Cross Licensing

Model cross licensing

Combine patent and revenue data to determine rational licensing outcomes.

Read more

Manage your budget

Justify patent budgets and communicate the impact of your investment.

Read more

Conduct due diligence

Automate manual reviews for efficient execution of M&A and licensing transactions.

Read more

Tackle inbound patent assertion

Be prepared with evidence to create a fast and effective threat assessment.

Read more

Benchmark your portfolio

Assess your portfolio in comparison to other owners through your technology lens.

Read more

Monetise your portfolio

Identify opportunities to create value through licensing or sale of patent assets.

Read more
Technology Trends icon

Predict technology trends

Track new technologies and discover the unknown owners of future innovation.

Read more
Icon of a meter

Create Risk Mitigation Strategies

Understand the materiality of your threats to define your risk mitigation strategy.

Read more

Improve your patent strategy now

Speak to the Cipher team today.

Review Your Portfolio

Arrange a callback