What’s the deal with Tokyo Game Show? On one hand, the show broke attendance records last year in spite of an industry-wide slowdown attributed to the 2011 Fukushima tragedy. On the other hand, both local and international developers and publishers have expressed that the show is smaller and less impactful -- no doubt in part due to Microsoft and others absence this year.
Gamasutra spoke to Japanese games industry veterans in order to find out for ourselves how internationally relevant TGS is -- and whether its role in the industry might be changing over the years.
Keiji Inafune, CEO, comcept Inc.
"The style of TGS has changed over the years. In terms of having business days and business meetings, and different dealings between the business people, that's probably important still, in that sense. But because the last two days are for consumers, it used to be all about big announcements or a new surprise or a brand new title. And that's not happening right now. You can get the information over the internet, you can get your demo online. The meaning of having to come all this way to see the show, in terms of that, it's definitely not as appealing as it was in the past. It has changed.”
Sanku Shino, senior VP of marketing and developer relations, GREE
"The reason we decided to exhibit here last year, which was our first time, was that we started out as a social networking service. So for many people, they just didn't have the image of us as a company that produces games.
"During the past few years, our business has really shifted towards social games, and we really got a lot of third-party developers putting games on our platforms. We really think we've moved up into the top tier of game makers now.
"So just to make that clear, and to increase awareness of that, I think it was very important for us to be here, both internally and with the public as well."
Masaya Matsuura, founder, NanaOn-Sha
“This year's surprise was that Microsoft didn't show up. But it's okay, so please come back next year. [laughs]
“One trend for Tokyo Game Show is inviting the Taiwanese, Chinese developers for the show...I'm really glad that these people have a booth for TGS because it'll be very helpful for exchanging information and business, so I really want them to keep this kind of challenge.”
Akihiro Suzuki, executive officer, Koei Tecmo
“It has definitely gotten smaller, the peak was about 7-8 years ago, and compared to that it's probably about half of what it used to be now. But last year was the earthquake, which really affected things; last year Level 5 wasn't here, this year Microsoft isn't here, so you can see certain publishers and developers aren't here.
"This show might not be meant for the world market any more, but just geared to the Japanese market. At the same time, companies like GREE, the social and mobile portions appear to be growing and getting really popular, and maybe they'll come in a little bit more. And that area could grow and bolster our side, too."
Andrew Szymanski, Global Production Team manager, Capcom
“TGS is an interesting show. It is, first and foremost, a consumer show, which makes it different from E3 in a lot of ways. One thing I've noticed over the years is that TGS is not a venue for new announcements like it used to be. I think every publisher anywhere is now looking at E3 and Gamescom as ‘This is the place where we're going to make our announcements,’ and TGS is for showing things off and focusing things for the domestic market.
“For Capcom, this year's TGS booth is the largest we've ever had, and the largest booth on the floor at TGS, because that's how much product we have to show off. And I love that we have Lost Planet 3 and Resident Evil 6, which are of course popular titles, but then you have Gyakuten Saiban [Ace Attorney], and mobile stuff.
“In a nutshell, I think TGS will remain relevant for the domestic market -- it's the only show in the country where you can walk in and play whatever you want -- but in terms of looking at the industry worldwide, there will be less things you haven't seen before at the show.”
Esteban Salazar, Digital Contents Business Division, MarvelousAQL
"It feels like there are less journalists from overseas this year. There were a lot of people who I was counting on seeing this year, that I'm not running into this year. It's kind of cliche to say at this point, but the Japanese game industry... it's kind of hurting lately."