Despite having a large video game industry and culture, there aren't very many Japanese MMORPGs on the market. How many Japanese MMORPGs do you think you could name off the top of your head? I can name maybe 4 or 5, but that's about it. I think everyone's heard about Final Fantasy 14 and Final Fantasy 11 by now, but as far as mainstream Japanese MMORPGs go, that's basically it. Cyberstep publishers several Japanese titles, but most of them are relatively unknown. How is it that a country that has such a large video game industry could have so few MMORPGs? With top quality studios like Nintendo, Konami, Sega, Namco Bandai, and Capcom, you'd think there would be a lot more Japanese MMORPGs.
Japanese game developers largely develop for Japanese audiences and then focus on exporting their games world-wide. Due to consumer tastes and preferences, Japanese gamers overwhelmingly prefer console games to PC games, which is one of the primary reasons the genre hasn't flourished in Japan. Mobile games have been growing rapidly in Japan, but PC games have never been too mainstream in the country. For those curious, we've compiled a short list of all the Japanese developed MMORPGs we could find.
List of Japanese Developed MMORPGs:
Final Fantasy XIV – The second Final Fantasy themed MMORPG from Square Enix. Since its original launch, it shut down and relaunched as Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, and has since enjoyed a lot of success both domestically and internationally.
Final Fantasy XI – Originally released on May 16, 2002, Final Fantasy XI was the first Final Fantasy themed MMORPG and one of Square Enix's biggest money makers. The game is also available on Xbox 360, PlayStation 2, and mobile platforms.
Phantasy Star Online 2 – Originally released back in July 4, 2012, Phantasy Star Online 2 is a fantasy themed MMORPG with sci-fi elements developed by Sega's Sonic Team. The game has been released in Japan for some time before making to other countries.
Wizardry Online – A fantasy MMORPG based on the Wizardry franchise that launched in Japan on January 30, 2013. The game was set for release in Western markets through Daybreak Game Company, but was later canceled. The game only launched in Japan.
CosmicBreak – A 3D sci-fi themed MMORPG with cute anime inspired graphics. Players battle each other with mechs. A sequel, Cosmic Break 2 is also available.
Cosmic League - A cutesy anime inspired mech shooter that looks and plays a lot like a more polished version of Cosmic Break. This is because Cosmic League is the same game as Cosmic Break 2. It launched globally in English in December, 2015.
Uncharted Waters Online (UWO) - A unique seafaring MMORPG developed by Koei. The game launched in Japan back in 2005 and made it's way to the U.S. in 2010. The game is available on both PC and Playstation 3.
Pandora Saga – A relatively unknown fantasy themed MMORPG that was developed by Atlus. The game launched in the West, but quickly shut down due to lack of popularity.
Shin Megami Tensei: Imagine Online – A free to play MMORPG based on the Shin Megami Tensei universe and developed by Japanese developer “Cave”. Published by Atlus.
Fantasy Earth Zero – Originally released as a subscription based game back in 2006 by Square Enix, Fantasy Earth Zero relaunched as a free to play title through GamePot USA in 2010. However, the game never managed to retain a large enough playerbase to support development and quickly shut down.
Lord of Vermilion Arena - A unique fantasy MOBA with card battling elements from Square Enix. Part of the Japanese "Lord of Vermilion" franchise. No foreign release date announced for the game, but open beta for it began in May, 2015.
Dragon's Dogma Online - A fantasy themed action MMORPG developed and published by Capcom. Currently only available in Japan.
Figureheads - A tactical mecha shooter by Square Enix. No word on an international release yet.
Happy Wars - Not an MMORPG, but a massively multiplayer MOBA style hack n slash action RPG with silly dialogue and hilarious art.
Rise of Incarnates - a free to play online fighting game from Namco Bandai.