Japan is an island country located in Eastern Asia and the Western Pacific Ocean. From a video game standpoint, Japan has been a significant territory from both a development and marketplace standpoint as early as the 1970s.
Prior to producing video games, Japanese companies such as Sega, Taito, Namco and Nintendo were producers of electro-mechanical arcade games. Soon after Atari began the video game industry in the early 1970s, many of these companies turned their attention to producing arcade video games. Japan eventually became a major exporter of video games during the golden age of arcade games, an era that began with the release of Taito's Space Invaders in 1978 and ended around the mid-1980s. Many of the most popular franchises from this era originated from Japan, including Space Invaders, Galaxian, Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, and Mario, among others.
Following the North American video game crash of 1983, Japan went on become the most dominant country within the global video game industry. In the 1980s, Nintendo released the Famicom in the country and became one of the forerunners of the medium as it is known today. Since that point, Japan has been the birthplace of a number of extremely well-known franchises, including, but not limited to, Super Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy, Street Fighter, Metal Gear, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Resident Evil, among others. Japan's dominance over the global video game industry would continue for over two decades, up until Microsoft's Xbox consoles began challenging Sony and Nintendo in the 2000s.
During the past several years, the influence of the nation's development studios has waned as Western companies have gained more prominence in North America and Europe. In 2002, the Japanese video game industry dominated as much as 50% of the global market; that share has since shrunk to around 10% by 2010. However, many companies such as Square Enix, Capcom and Konami have been taking progressive actions to ensure that their homeland doesn't become irrelevant in the global market.
The Japanese video game industry is popularly considered to be the leader in role-playing games, spawning their own sub-genre, sometimes labelled "JRPGs", including Final Fantasy, Blue Dragon, Eternal Sonata, etc., all very popular and widely dispersed games from the genre.
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