TOKYO, Sep 24 – The Tokyo Toy Show (TGS) was previously a major industry event, and it has been increasingly overshadowed by global competitors in recent years. But as the pandemic imposes it online, some see an opportunity to reinvent.
The exhibition, which opened online yesterday, shows Japanese video games and is still crowded regularly by enthusiastic gamers, attracting more than 250,000 people a year since 2013.
But its star has faded into the industry, as most of Japan’s top developers have chosen to roll out new offerings for the first time elsewhere.
“TGS has been on a downward trend in the past 10 to 15 years,” said Serkan Tutu, an analyst at Kantan Games in Tokyo.
Part of that is the result of the decline in the dominance of Japanese gaming companies, he told France Press.
TGS began in 1996 and was an unmissable industrial event in the early 2000s. But it has seen its leadership position increasingly eroded by competition from E3, held in Los Angeles in June, and Gamescom in Cologne in August.
With the increasing importance of the American and European gaming markets, Gamescom is now attracting more visitors than its competitors and is the preferred place to unveil new products.
“The weird thing about TGS is that it looks like more and more people turn up every year.” Brian Ashcraft, who writes for specialist Kotaku and has covered TGS for 15 years, said, “But breaking news and things, this is on a reverse curve.”
TGS has increasingly focused on the domestic market, offering most of its content only in Japanese.
“In the past two years, it has become increasingly clear that TGS has been looking inward rather than an international show,” Tutu said.
“TGS allows visitors to experience the games” that are held in September every year before the holiday shopping season, which has been announced elsewhere, said Yasuyuki Yamagi, general secretary of the Cesa Association that runs TGS.
“People also come to the air to watch the e-sports competitions, or to do costumes (dress codes), or to spend quality time with their families,” he told France Press.
The pandemic makes most of that impossible, but TGS organizers are hoping the show’s online offering will increase their audience, both in Japan and beyond.
Typically, Yamagi said, “70 to 80 percent of visitors come from Tokyo and the surrounding areas.”
But on the Internet, “space, distance and time restrictions are disappearing.”
This year’s show schedule runs until late at night in Japan, giving those in remote time zones the opportunity to watch esports battles and game shows.
Several presentations will also be given in English and Chinese, along with Japanese, and some games will be available to play online, although regional availability restrictions may pose challenges.
However, some of this year’s biggest releases weren’t presented at TGS.
Microsoft, which has only 0.25 percent of Xbox One sales in Japan, will be in TGS but not present its new console.
Sony, which unveiled the new PlayStation 5 online last week, will skip TGS altogether this year.
Nintendo, whose games and console dominated the Japanese market in 2019, has rarely had a presence in TGS.
Organizers say this year’s event could inspire lasting changes to the look.
“We’d like to be able to do a hybrid physical event that preserves the benefits of TGS online, like remote presentations,” Yamaji said.
Whether attracting a wider international audience will convince players in the industry that TGS is once again a place to launch new products remains to be seen.
But at the very least, the pandemic is opening the door to innovations in a form that has not changed much in recent years.
Yamagi noted that half of this year’s exhibitors are non-Japanese, making TGS more global.
“I think next year is going to be fun because it’s going to be like, ‘What’s really important? Ashcraft said.
“What can they display digitally? What can they do in person? I think this year will give them a good measure of that.” – Agence France-Presse Relax News