The shape of Japanese gaming at Tokyo Game Show 2014
TJapan’s leading game expo shows how the region continues to distinguish itself from the west
his year’s Tokyo Game Show boasted its second-largest attendance in history – 251,832 over four days, bested only by the turnout for the PS4-debuting 2013 event. And yet from a western perspective it was a curiously unspectacular show.
A record 421 companies presented some 1,363 games, the most popular examples, including Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, God Eater 2: Rage Burst, Yakuza Zero and Bloodborne, made in Japan. Behind the headline numbers, though, lay some concerns.
Japan has for some time been trending away from home console games in favour of handheld and mobile titles, and the state of new-gen support at TGS made for grim reporting. Of the games listed above, only Bloodborne is exclusive to a new-gen platform, and indeed it is published by the platform holder, SCE. Yakuza Zero is on PS4 but also PS3, while another big title, Resident Evil: Revelations 2, is also cross-gen on Sony and Microsoft platforms. The new hardware simply doesn’t have the installed base in Japan to make the leap worthwhile.
“We always want to support new hardware and offer better graphics, so it’s natural for us to support the new systems, but we have to pay attention to these things, because we want to reach the widest audience possible,” Revelations 2 producer Michiteru Okabe explained.
The lack of a Wii U version of Capcom’s game, despite the first Revelations originally being made for 3DS, is also telling. Nintendo does not have an official presence at TGS, but while 3DS games popped up on numerous thirdparty booths, the only Wii U games we saw were Sega’s Sonic Boom and a Bandai Namco game based on kids’ cartoon Doraemon. In Revelations 2’ s case, Okabe blamed the difficulty of making a multiplatform game that would also run on Nintendo’s system.
On Microsoft’s booth, we saw few games made in Japan for Xbox One. Mighty No 9 drew healthy lines, as did The Evil Within, which was packed on all three booths where it was shown. Xbox’s core audience in Japan are drawn to the console for its lineup of western titles, and the biggest hit on its booth was a first hands-on with COD: Advanced Warfare.
“Having launched two weeks before TGS, I would say this is an important event [for Xbox One], because it’s the event where we engage directly with the customers,” said Masashi Inoue, a senior manager for Xbox in Japan. “Gamers are still waiting for the games they want to be on our system, but we have just started our journey.”
Based on a popular anime drama series, Psycho-Pass was the only Japanese game on the booth that was targeted purely at a domestic audience. Using Kinect and SmartGlass in concert to draw the player into a visual-novel crime narrative, the game is still a year from release, making for a somewhat bare-bones demo.
“Gamers are still waiting for the games they want on Xbox One, but we’ve just started our journey”
There were plenty of world-class games at TGS, but they were titles that had already been shown overseas at Gamescom or E3, and thus packed few surprises. A live playthrough of the newly
From top: Masashi Inoue, a senior manager for Xbox in Japan; Michiteru Okabe, producer of Capcom’s Resident Evil:Revelations 2