Amid all the current doom and gloom in the world economy, Japan hosted its annual video gaming industry event, the Tokyo Game Show 2008. Understandably, the mood was slightly muted compared to the entertainment industry’s usual atmosphere of “party-all-night” escapism.
The foot traffic on the show’s first two trade-only days felt slower than previous years, although the stats for the following two public days showed an increase in consumer attendance. The story that I’ve heard (anecdotally) is that even though the current economic squeeze is likely to reduce overall consumer spending, the video gaming industry will see a greater proportion of that spending. The theory goes that since people will either stay at home or invite friends over, home-entertainment categories will get a boost this winter. Given my line of work, I’m certainly rooting for that scenario.
Compared to GC Leipzig or the now defunct E3, The Tokyo Game Show is a very domestic Japanese affair, and the game franchises on show tend to be the ones with the most local (rather than worldwide) appeal. One notable exception was Sony’s announcement of the Spec III version of Gran Turismo 5 Prologue (available as a free downloadable upgrade for existing GT5p players). Our Logitech Driving Force GT was in high demand at the Sony/Polyphony demo stations.
Microsoft initially took quite a drubbing in the Japanese market with the Xbox 360, due to their lack of titles tailored to Japanese taste, but that has changed during the last few months. Bandai-Namco’s “Tales of Vesperia” was released exclusively for Xbox 360, and together with deep price cuts, Microsoft has finally gained some momentum. Maybe because of this new-found confidence in their Japanese sales, Microsoft chose Tokyo to announce Halo 3 Recon, the next, and likely, final installment of their blockbuster franchise.
As with my previous visits, I found Tokyo a fascinating city to visit – if only for a few days. I look forward to my next trip there.