Man, to a lot of people the 2013 Tokyo Game Show kinda just came and went. That’s sort of how it’s been for probably the last two or three years of TGS, but this year the show’s light impact seems to sting especially hard as new consoles are about to come out.
We already got a taste of this at Sony’s pre-show presser where relatively few “next-gen” games were really announced by Japanese publishers, leading to a Japanese PS4 launch lineup that’s still mostly made up of western software. It’s definitely apparent that Japan hasn’t really transitioned to the new consoles, just as it hesitated to transition to the current consoles.
We got a lot of new footage of and information about known titles (Lightning Returns, Ace Combat Infinity, Dark Souls II, etc.), but not a lot of new game announcements were really made, which is a bit disappointing for a show that used to be compared to E3, but mainly for Japanese publishers.
Even in the handheld space, where Japan is said to have retreated, we didn’t get a lot of new announcements. Even while writing this I’m struggling to think of major announcements and information that came out of TGS this year. The release date of Dark Souls II is one thing I guess. Another thing is the true nature of Capcom’s upcoming Deep Down — a next-gen free-to-play game. F2p on consoles seems to be an emerging thing out of Japanese publishers like Capcom and Namco.
Maybe it’s because western outlets chose not to cover all the mobile games that almost certainly took over TGS. I think Capcom announced another new RPG (the kind of announcement people used to watch TGS for) that ended up being an iOS game — aside from the also-mobile Breath of Fire 6, which probably felt like a slap on the face to fans of that series. Even Yasumi Matsuno announces a new game and it turns out to be a mobile game, but I at least trust that guy to offer actual deep gameplay and not an exploitative monetization scheme.
From my point of view the biggest things to come out of TGS this year were the Vita TV and the gameplay presentation of Metal Gear Solid V (Konami didn’t even have a booth this year), which is also cross-generation and mainly current-gen. It’s probably a telling sign when one of the most significant game announcements for me was La-Mulana 2 — an indie game.
It’s really hard to say when even the big Japanese publishers will jump on board for the new consoles. Both machines aren’t launching in Japan this year, who knows when Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts III will launch, and even western publishers are mostly making cross-gen games for the next 12 months.
All that said, attendance to TGS still rises year-over-year, so the show isn’t in any actual danger of dying any time soon. It’s really just more a case of the Japanese market growing further and further apart from the rest of the world.