Be it AlbinoBlackSheep, Newgrounds, or Kongregate, pretty much everyone has played a browser game at some point. They were the mobile gaming before mobile gaming was a thing. If you have time to kill, or were just sitting in a class or meeting wanting to do anything else to pass the time, you could bring up your favorite website and waste that time away. These games were usually designed either as something you could play through once in a short period of time or that you could replay indefinitely. This meant that they are great for the experience, but you could never expect a loyal player base out of them.
Japanese browser game developers have a completely different idea of what a browser game is. A Japanese browser game builds a player base in a way that tries to continually bring people back as active members of the world. It uses principles that are fairly similar to MMOs with logins, single hosting locations, and general availability to allow you to play your game on any computer that has an up to date browser and a stable Internet connection.
There have been some browser based games in the past that have really had western audiences coming back, such as Runescape, but that doesn't change the fact that the "one and done" style browser game is dominant. Runescape has never gotten the same amount of attention as some of these Japanese games though. Some perfect examples of games that have managed to garner a large amount of support from both a Japanese and Western market include Kantai Collection, Kingdom Hearts χ and Kanpani Girls. The last of which stands apart from the other two, though, as they have a full English translation available for western players.
Kantai Collection is a game that initially launched in 2013 as a fleet building simulator. You build up your fleet, represented as cards, and send them out on missions. In the two years that this game has been out, not only does it have a stunning player base of 3 million, but there have been various manga adaptations, a table-top game, a PlayStation Vita game to be released, as well as an anime with a film in the works. Kingdom Hearts χ is a whole other deal as a browser game that is tied into the greater Kingdom Hearts story. This has received support not only as a new game but from all of the current fans on the series hungering for more. Like with some other browser games, we see them not coming to the West just as ports but as a mobile or even console iteration. This game is getting added support as an iOS and android app, and is even meant to be released in the West eventually.
There is a plain and clear problem with a lot of these Japanese games that is stopping them from gaining the same kind of popularity in the West though. That problem is the language barrier; aside from those who have learned Japanese at some point in their life, there is no stumbling your way though a continuous online browser game.
There are some solutions to this, though, and that includes companies that specifically translate these browser games and host them on their sites. One of these companies includes Nutaku, an online community offering various free-to-play games that are ports of popular Japanese Browser Games. One of the games that they offer is called Kanpani Girls, where you get to play as the CEO of an all-female mercenary group. In the game you collect characters (your employees), equip them with gear and head out to complete jobs with them in turn based battles. As well as the missions and deep battle system, there is also a full story as you continue your work as a CEO.
These Japanese browser games might not offer the graphics of a AAA title, but some have feature sets that rival plenty of different games that are in similar veins. The added accessibility of being able to access your character and account from any computer without extra software also makes the game very flexible. If you only have a couple of minutes to spare, spend it in a simple battle or reorganize your squads, but if you have a lot more time, then you can progress the campaign, and plenty more.
What do you think of an more in-depth browser game experience? What kind of sites do you go to when hunting for a good browser game? Would any of these Japanese browser games appeal to you?