Crazy for Virtual Boyfriends!



  • Johnny’s, Korean actors – are virtual boyfriends the next leisure craze for Japanese housewives?

Translator: Bjol R. Frenkenberger
Editor: Bjol R. Frenkenberger, Issei Watanabe & Kanako Maruyama

The growth rate of female otome game users over 50 has increased
19-fold according to Fuller Inc.’s App data analysis tool App Ape. Otome
games simulate a romantic boyfriend experience through an interactive story
line. The increase in users can be related to a high smartphone penetration
rate and the enormous popularity of these games. The following article is
the portrait of a model case, an example of how the general availability of
smartphones and internet access changes lifestyles and individual hobbies.

Usage Increases

Although the game’s overall MAU (Monthly Active User) rate has only
increased slightly by 1 %, the growth rate of female users over 50 has
risen to 157%. A demographic analysis of the MAU of otome game users
shows that the user increase of female users in their teens (20-fold)
was comparable to those over 50.



  • Over the last three years, the total amount of users increased by just 1 percent.


  • The MAU growth was the highest among female users over 50 (157%).


  • The user increase in females over 50 is comparable to the increase in female users in their teens.
    Selection Criteria: The top 10 games (android) in terms of MAU (Monthly Active Users) with a female user base
    of 75% and more, in the categories simulation games, adventure games, casual games and card games.

An Essential Tool

According to a white paper published by the Japanese Prime minister’s
cabinet office, the Japanese Smartphone penetration rate has reached
64.2 percent. This is an increase of 1.6% compared to the previous year.
In 2007 the penetration rate was only 9.6%. In less than ten years,
smartphone ownership increased six-fold (household survey). Apps
addressing disaster prevention or parenting turned the smartphone into
an essential tool of daily life.


Psychological Reasons

The current penetration rate and the enormous popularity of smartphone
games can be seen as factors pushing the MAU growth rate of female users
over 50. This is the highest growth rate compared with every other age or
gender group. ‘Simple to use’ and ‘without any danger of getting exposed’
are remarks often made by otome game fans. Middle aged women that used
to chase after Korean actors and Johnny’s pop idols seem to be increasingly
enjoying the discreet realism of virtual boyfriends.

For this article, we used App Ape Analytics.