Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Pandemic offers Tokyo Game Show new life



Pandemic offers Tokyo Game Show new life

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Most of Tokyo Game Show’s attendees usually come from nearby Tokyo and the event has recently been presented only in Japanese. This year, it will cater to a more global audience as it moves online. AFP

Pandemic offers Tokyo Game Show new life

Once a premier industry event, Tokyo Game Show has been increasingly overshadowed by global competitors in recent years. But as the pandemic forces it online, some see a chance for reinvention.

The exhibition, which opens online from Wednesday, showcases Japanese video games and is still regularly thronged by enthusiastic gamers, attracting over 250,000 people a year since 2013.

But its star has faded in the industry, with most of Japan’s top developers choosing to debut new offerings elsewhere.

“TGS has been on a downward trend in the last 10 to 15 years,” said Serkan Toto, an analyst at Kantan Games in Tokyo.

Part of that is the result of a decline in the dominance of Japanese gaming companies, he told AFP.

TGS began in 1996 and was an unmissable industry event in the early 2000s. But it has seen its leader position increasingly eroded by competition from E3, held in Los Angeles in June, and Gamescom, in Cologne in August.

With the growing importance of the American and European gaming markets, Gamescom now attracts more visitors than its rivals and is the favoured place for new product reveals.

“The weird thing about TGS is it feels like it’s getting bigger for the number of people attending every year. But breaking news and stuff, that’s on an inverse curve,” said Brian Ashcraft, who writes for specialist site Kotaku and has covered TGS for 15 years.

Multilingual presentations

TGS has increasingly focused on the domestic market, offering most of its content in Japanese only.

“In the last couple of years, it has become increasingly clear that the TGS has been looking inwards rather than being an international show,” said Toto.

Held each September before the holiday shopping season, “TGS allows visitors to try out games” that have been announced elsewhere, said Yasuyuki Yamaji, secretary general of the Cesa association that runs TGS.

“People also come for the atmosphere, to see eSports competition, do cosplay [dressing up as characters], or have a fun time with their family,” he told AFP.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Cosplay, when people dress up as characters usually from video games, TV shows or movies, is popular at TGS. AFP

The pandemic makes most of that impossible, but TGS organisers are hoping that taking the show online may grow their audience, both in Japan and abroad.

Ordinarily, “70 to 80 per cent of visitors come from Tokyo and surrounding areas”, Yamaji said.

But online, “limitations on space, distance and time disappear”.

The schedule for this year’s show runs late into the night in Japan, offering those in faraway timezones the chance to watch eSports battles and game demonstrations.

Several presentations will also be offered in English and Chinese, along with Japanese, and some games will be available for online play, though regional availability restrictions may pose challenges.

Format changes

Still, some of this year’s biggest releases are not being presented at TGS.

Microsoft, which made just 0.25 per cent of its Xbox One sales in Japan, will be at TGS but won’t be presenting its new console.

And Sony, which unveiled its new PlayStation 5 online last week, is skipping TGS altogether this year.

Nintendo, whose games and Switch console dominated the Japanese market in 2019, has rarely had a presence at TGS.

Organisers say this year’s event may inspire permanent format changes.

“We would like to be able to do a hybrid physical event that retains the advantages of an online TGS, like presentations at a distance,” said Yamaji.

Whether attracting a broader international audience will convince industry players that TGS is once again a place to launch new products remains to be seen.

But at the very least, the pandemic is creating an opening for innovations in a format that has changed little in recent years.

Yamaji noted half this year’s exhibitors are non-Japanese, making for a “more global TGS”.

“I think next year it will be interesting because it’ll be like, ‘what is really important’?” Ashcraft said.

“What can they show digitally? What can they do in person? I think this year will give them a good barometer for that.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Kingdom's Covid cluster cases jump to 194

    The Ministry of Health on February 25 confirmed 65 new cases of Covid-19, with 58 linked to the February 20 community transmission. The latest cluster cases include nine Vietnamese nationals, five Cambodians, one each from Korea, Singapore and Japan, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total number

  • Locations shut, dozens more Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health has closed 23 locations in connection with the February 20 community transmission of Covid-19 and summoned for testing anyone who had direct contact with affected people and places. The number of discovered related infections has risen to 76, including 39 women. In a press release,

  • Cambodia's Covid cluster cases rise to 137

    The Ministry of Health on February 24 recorded 40 more cases of Covid-19, with 38 linked to the February 20 community transmission. Of the 40, two are imported cases involving Chinese passengers. The 38 include two Vietnamese nationals and one Cambodian, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total cases

  • Covid cluster raises alarm, health bodies urge vigilance

    The Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia have expressed great concern over the February 20 cluster transmission of Covid-19 in the community. Both entities appealed for vigilance and cooperation in curbing further spread of the virus. Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said

  • PM confirms third Covid-19 community transmission

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on February 20 announced the Kingdom's third outbreak of Covid-19 community transmission after 32 people tested positive in just over 10 hours. Addressing the public from his residence after an emergency meeting, Hun Sen said: "I dub it February 20 Community Event, in which 32 cases

  • Cambodia's cluster cases jump to 259

    The Ministry of Health on February 27 recorded 26 more cases of Covid-19 linked to the February 20 community transmission, bringing the total to 259 in one week. The 26 include three Vietnamese nationals and one Cambodian, with the rest being Chinese. The ministry noted that five of the Chinese