Last year’s TGS was somewhat of coming-to-terms event for Japanese developers. An opportunity for them to regroup and think about their plans for the coming years. The event was kicked off with a speech by Yoichi Wada, president of Square Enix and also the chairman of the Computer Entertainment Supplier’s Association (CESA) in Japan.
Wada pointed out factors such as resistance to adopting outside technology and sharing ideas as one of the primary reasons behind the deterioration of the games market in Japan. He also pointed out the lack of any real cooperative user community like the modding community in the West. His speech was then followed up by a keynote from Microsoft’s John Schappert, who boasted a plethora of Japanese support behind the Xbox 360, including Star Ocean: The Last Hope and The Last Remnant.
Last year, it seemed like Microsoft would stop at nothing to win over Japan and it seemed like their console was the one on everyone’s mind. This year looks to be notably different. While Microsoft have committed to new TGS announcements, the real presence at the show will be Sony, who are set to outline their PlayStation strategy going forward in keynote by Kaz Hirai.
This should be a source of comfort for larger Japanese publishers as the PS3 pricedrop hopefully means they now have a platform on which they can publish their high-definition games and actually hope to have them sell in Japan.
It’s interesting to see Sony finally going back to their roots and presenting the games that made the PlayStations a success in the first place. We have a new Level-5 game in the form of White Knight Chronicles 2, the new Gran Turismo, Team Ico’s The Last Guardian and of course FFXIII, which is set to release in Japan this year. And then, there’s that motion-control wand that we’ll hopefully see implemented in an actual game at the event. Given the popularity of the portable systems in Japan, one would hope to see the PSP receive a little push, too.
No doubt Sony is going to be the star of this year’s TGS. The question is, what else can we look forward to?
Last year’s show brought us a confirmation of No More Heroes 2, which was one of the high points for me personally. This year, I’m looking forward to seeing if we hear of anything related to DSi-exclusive games. The newer model has been consistently outselling the DS Lite by a very wide margin since its release nearly a year ago. We’ve already seen the first DSi-exclusive in the form of Monster Finder and one would hope that at least the smaller Japanese developers would show an interest in taking advantage of the platform before the bigger ones show up to compete. That said, I would be a little surprised — and disappointed — if Square Enix didn’t at least touch upon their DSi support at TGS.
While last year’s show seemed to have a humbling cloud of depression hanging over it following Wada’s keynote, this year seems to be a lot more optimistic. Sony is finally attempting a comeback. You’ve got SEGA kicking some major ass with new games like Bayonetta and End of Eternity, and those are just the games that they’re publishing. Level-5 and Square, similarly, are also spearheading the new I.P. effort with games like Ni no Kuni and NieR.
Level-5, of course, are one of Japan’s fastest growing developers and one to keep an eye on. Their president Akihiro Hino is set to deliver a keynote at TGS this year and you can’t possibly go wrong with more Ni no Kuni and Inazuma Eleven. Maybe we’ll also finally see the console versions of both franchises. He will be joined on stage by Yakuza producer Toshihiro Nagoshi, so the odds of a Yakuza 3 localization announcement are looking better everyday, too.
Marvelous Entertainment also deserve a nod. They’ve published some of my favourite games in the last year and I’m curious to see what else they have up their sleeve. Oh, and there’s always that slim chance that we’ll see Persona 5.
But overall, I suppose I’m looking forward to more portable support, seeing as how that’s where I get the majority of my gaming done nowadays and that great portable games are Japan’s true strength at the moment. It always really excites me to see developers really pushing portable systems and trying to make games that are larger in scope on weaker hardware.
What does the rest of Siliconera have their eye on?