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Differentiation in digital creative industry cluster dynamics: the growth and decline of the Japanese video game software industry

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journal contribution
posted on 16.01.2018, 08:44 by Mirko Ernkvist, Patrik Ström

The growth of digital creative industries has received increasing interest in economic geography, but our knowledge of factors shaping the longer-term growth and decline of digital creative industry clusters remains limited. We address this issue through a longitudinal case study of the Japanese video game software industry during the last three decades. Drawing on a theoretical framework emphasizing the link between differentiation of game intellectual properties (IPs) and competitiveness in creative industries, we suggest that an important role in the growth and subsequent decline of the Japanese video game industry could be attributed to enabling and constraining changing technological and market conditions related to the Japanese cluster’s ability to produce differentiated game IPs. A previously highly competitive system lost much of its competitiveness. Technological change in the industry made it difficult for the Japanese cluster to maintain previous levels of differentiation when facing increasing development costs and less cross-sectoral cultural skill transfer.