The GAME SHOW must go on: attend, set up, showcase, meet up, wash your hands

Hello. This is a thread dedicated to trade shows, conventions, expos et al. for video games and its peripheral culture at large.

  • * Need tips to attend your first TGS?
  • * Want advice how to feature your game at PAX?
  • * Need to know if Kuala Lumpur Level Up is a safe place for trans developers to visit?
  • * Want to check who else is going to attend MIX in Montreal?
  • * Care to share your experience handling an indie booth at BitSummit?
  • * Want to vent about something that happened to you at EVO?
  • * Thinking of setting up your own game convention in Idaho?
  • * Feeling the urge to share a useful tip for a good tacos joint near GDC’s Moscone Center?
  • * Want to discuss the latest drama and gossip about E3’s comeback?
  • * Etc.
  • This is the place.

    ⚠️This is very specifically not a thread about video game announcements and news featured at such gaming show events.⚠️

    So, three reasons I wanted to start this discussion.

    ① We have had many good advice and anecdotes in the past about gaming show attendance which are unfortunately scattered among different topics and therefore hard to trace back for future reference.

    ② This is my platform to start lobbying for GDC to move to Hawaii by 2026.

    ③ I am quite curious about the news of [ReedPop’s fallout with ESA for E3 2024]( coming just after a newish PAX West set up which apparently had mixed reactions from exhibitors and attendees.

    Everybody is basically latching on the ESA angle of that story, the never-ending E3 blunder etc. I get it.

    I am more interested about the ReedPop angle in all this: I am wondering it they plan to partner with Keighley instead, or maybe even launch their own competing event (something like "PAX LA") before Summer Games Fest becomes too entrenched in that space. I did not attend Summer Games Fest this Summer so I am not sure how popular the event was on site.

    Whoever made this ad placement happen on the Yamanote deserves the fattest Maguro slices at the end of the year party.


    I am curious about @"exodus"#3 ’s perspective as an indie with their game on the show floor, which I am sure he will share on the podcast very soon, but I believe this was the best Tokyo Game Show in years, for a variety of reasons.
    >!Also, Thursday, I was stuck in the only space which did not suffer from the massive air conditioning breakdown that afflicted the entire show floor. So not actually having died of dehydration may be coloring my judgment.!<

    There were already good vibes last year, despite the low attendance (especially from international peers), but that was mainly the aftermath of COVID and coming from people just being happy to roam again the oft maligned Makuhari Messe which they had taken for granted.

    This year was genuinely a great show full of tons of different people and profiles, where tons of significant things happened. I am sure, for many, the weak yen and convenient excuse to visit Japan for the first time since 2019 also played a part in their participation.

    I could not spend much time on the show floor itself but my impression is that TGS has finally digested the switch to its modern configuration: only two halls + a separate hall for shops and indies. Publisher booths seemed better designed, arranged and spaced out. There was also a lot of new, exclusive and exciting contents (thanks to E3’s death maybe). Furthermore, there was may more multiplatform contents than before.

    Until this year, the health of Tokyo Game Show could always be more or less directly indexed upon the health of Sony Japan. They were, after all, the main driving force behind the establishment of CESA and the creation of Tokyo Game Show.

    As such, the golden age of the event coincided with the hegemony of PlayStation 2. The first big bump in the road happened when PSP and PS3 flopped at launch. At the same time, Nintendo kept shrugging TGS off despite the DS/Wii boom (_hmmm the engine makes a strange noise now_) and the first big wave of industry contraction was also happening: Square + Enix + Taito, Bandai + Namco, Koei + Tecmo. (_Daaad! The car is leaking some black goop on the road!_)

    The belated success of PSP deluded some into thinking all would be alright for a few years, but the industry-wide failure of the 3DS/Vita/WiiU/PS4 generation and Xbox tacitly giving up paved the way to a decade of depressing decay. I’ll touch upon topic in more details later but, thinking about it a few weeks ago, I had concluded that TGS 2013 had been the nadir or the Japanese games industry.

    And thus, Playstation’s brutal and symbolic decision to skip TGS last year sounded like the last bell being rung for poor ol’ Tokyo Game Show. And yet, despite Sony’s repeated absence this year, despite perennial TGS-snobber Nintendo now accounting for 60% of the console software market, despite the lack of interest of mobile developers (currently embattled by IDFA), the absence of all big three hardware makers wasn’t felt at all this year. I actually think Xbox missed a good opportunity by not attending TGS2023 in person!

    Most people I talked to were also pretty positive about the show (and surprised to be so). Maybe our collective expectations have been lowered by about a decade of mediocrity at TGS, but I surmise there are four (or maybe five) concrete reasons explaining this success.

    ❶ The death of E3 renewed the industrial, strategic and PR purpose of TGS.

    ❷ I had already felt this way at Gamescom last Summer but it is clear now that Asia leads the industry in terms of investments, tech, new IP bravado, marketing bullshit, etc.

    The return to form of Japanese developers, acted since 2016, certainly plays a part. Even more-so, it is the Chinese and Korean developers who are leading this evolution, as they now need to grow beyond their borders. Chinese devs were making people laugh by aggressively copy-pasting others’ games, but now they both have the initiative in business terms, and begin to release games that others cannot make. And we see more and more smaller SEA actors following in their wake. This year, Americans and Europeans felt outpaced: not enough money, not enough new ideas, not enough proverbial *cojones* (*y ovarios*).

    ❸ Tied to the two points above, many new faces and many new investors ready to jump (sometimes foolishly) into video game investment. VCs, banks, 37 different Saudi cousins of the Prince, all investing in Asia because that’s where things happen presently. Happening just when bubbles like Web3 and the Embracer model are bursting.

    ❹ I could also notice that TGS is way more homogeneous than before. No more putting the foreigners (esp. Chinese and Korean games) in show floor ghetto. Way more - genuine - interest from local companies to meet with pretty much anyone. A lot of publishers actually went to check the indies (and felt the need to mention they did). Smartphone games that look and play like console games. Free-to-Play titans interested in the premium business model. And great games on all platforms!

    ❺(?) Speaking of which, it is of course entirely possible we were also lucky that TGS arrived at the right time for many big games coincidentally closing their dev, just in time for the end of the fiscal year, after a long COVID delay. SQEX, Sega and Capcom all had a big PS5 game at the end of the fiscal year. Konami possibly had this Holiday’s biggest game via Momotetsu World on the Switch. Maybe there will be less big guns of the sort next year.

    In any case, best TGS in about… Fifteen years or so? (_yeesh!_) The Peace Walker TGS maybe? Anyway, in a very long time, in my opinion. And so this happens exactly ten years after the worst TGS in History. Let me put a cap on this by summarizing the dreadful, nefarious, tying a rope to a branch-level of fun that was Tokyo Game Show 2013:


  • * A few pictures to scrap at 4Gamer

  • >
  • * US Gamer (RIP) running a quasi-obit for the Japanese industry at the end of that year.

  • >
  • * If you look at the summary for 2013 in video games on Wikipedia, it’s probably the year during which Japanese games are the least relevant.

  • >
  • * Yamauchi passes away a couple of days before TGS.

  • >
  • * Around that time, the recently released Wii U is failing hard, even in Japan (this is before Mario Kart 8 and Splatoon came out).

  • >
  • * The PS Vita is an even bigger flop (this is a year before the “Minecraft on Vita” TGS which gave it a new lease on life in Japan).

  • >
  • * The 3DS sells, but pretty much only for Nintendo, Pokémon, Capcom (more specifically only Monster Hunter) and Level 5 which was openly snobbing TGS at the time.

  • >
  • * Fortunately, the PS4 will come out End 2013… Except in Japan, which is now considered a Tier 2 country by new Sony management.

  • >
  • * Same for the Xbox One, although to be fair ① that’s the Xbox One ② Xbox is pretty much giving up on local investments from that point.

  • >
  • * Sega unveils Ryū ga Gotoku Ishin as the big launch title for PS4 in Japan… But there is also a PS3 version. Amd that’s when the West doesn’t give a damn about the series.

  • >
  • * GREE of “I know how to defeat Nintendo” (2012) fame has the biggest booth on the show floor. This will become a tradition and running gag each following year until COVID, with a new rich kid on the block (GREE, GungHo, CyGames, Netease, Tencent, Embracer etc.) overspending on their useless lavish booth to gain legitimacy, before realizing the following year they had enough cash and reach to organize their own event.

  • >
  • * The biggest game of the show is Dark Souls II.

  • >
  • * From also shows Armored Core Verdict Day, which comes out the same week as TGS, and nobody in the West gives a crap.

  • >
  • * The three big games of Capcom that year are Geist Crusher (RIP), Sengoku Basara 4 and the unforgettable Deep Down playable demo for PS4.

  • >
  • * The biggest announcement of the Sony conference is… Monster Hunter Frontier G on PS Vita. Sony Studios Japan’s biggest game for PS4’s launch is… Knack.

  • >
  • * The big Japanese Xbox One exclusive is Crimson Dragon.

  • >
  • * The big Square Enix game is… Lightning Returns. No KH3, no FF14 PS4, no FF15 even though they were just shown at E3 that same year.

  • >
  • * The big Koei Tecmo game is… nothing. Koei Tecmo skips the show.

  • >
  • * The DBZ game on the show floor that year is Battle of Z.

  • >
  • * The Sonic game on the show floor that year is Sonic Lost World.

  • >
  • * No Nintendo Direct before TGS (there was already one in early August, to be fair).

  • >
  • * The big ongoing Nintendo plot line that year is The Year of Luigi.

  • >
  • * The biggest 3DS game on the show floor is possibly Puzzle & Dragon Z? This is just when Pazudora (on mobile) is the biggest game in Japan (and possibly the world) revenue-wise.

  • >
  • * Comcept (Inafune) and IntiCreates successfully kickstart Mighty No.9 just a few weeks before TGS. This will eventually have a massive impact on the Japanese games industry in the following years.

  • >
  • * And just a few weeks prior, it was Project Phoenix which had collected $1M from hopeful consumers fearing Japanese-style games would otherwise go they way of the dodo. (Still no trace of that game.)
  • *¡Dios mío!* Do call it a comeback. Until next year, then!

    I actually don't have much to say about it on the show! I pretty much glossed over it. To me as an exhibitor it felt almost identical to last year, except fewer press (everyone was excited to get out last year). Walking around, there were more BIG BOOTHS which is cool, but less I wanted to look at. But I think in general that means it was better.

    My big observations:

  • - less web3 and crypto stuff, and they were PRETTY MUCH the only companies using "booth babes" this year, to just kind of cement that they are losers. I took a photo of a HUGE empty booth about NFT games. But now there were only 4 or 5 of those exhibitors instead of 20 or whatever it was last year.
  • - putting the indies in another hall doesn't really make sense to me. Just use all the halls! Why not!! I definitely felt that the indie section (we weren't there, we were in a main hall) had more "good stuff" in it (big happinet booth, etc) but even on the public days folks weren't coming to play many of the games.
  • - some exhibitors paid for business days only. I wonder how much less that cost. Several exhibitors with big booths near us were gone by public day and replaced by benches. This actually made the flow around our booth worse because it was easier to skip by.
  • - the f2p games that WERE there had their booths mobbed. Basically only the popular ones came, and I think they must've given away unique items or something because people were just slammed around the genshin, star rail, etc booths.
  • - lots of nearly human-sized cardboard or plastic standees in the place of booth babes. Basically characters from devs' games. I hadn't seen much of that before but this year it was everywhere. I didn't see folks taking photos of them so maybe it wasn't a big success, but it was interesting that everyone just decided to do it. Maybe that idea came from another show like comiket?
  • Anyway to me it wasn't so different from last year, but I could see how it would be from your perspective!

    Pretty weird G★STAR this year. It felt much less dynamic than last year, in part due to a lull in some publishers’ releases but also due to some ongoing shifts in the Korean market.

    Four major actors of the Korean game landscape skipped the event outright.

    Neowiz can be forgiven as they are one of the smaller publishers and have just released Lies of P a few weeks ago. The game won the grand prize for best Korean game of the year at the opening ceremony, just ahead of Dave the Diver. Both were flagship titles of last year’s edition, and part of the new wave of premium Korean titles escaping from the F2P model the country normalized two decades ago. The ill-fated The Callisto Protocol was another one. We had no such equivalents this year.

    Nexon, the biggest Korean publisher, pretty much cold-shouldered the event entirely.

    Same for Pearl Abyss, even though they showed off Crimson Desert extensively at Gamescom this summer, and have not given news about DokeV in a while.

    Last but not least, Shift Up (Nikke) decided to skip G-Star and instead follow their Chinese rival Hoyoverse (Genshin Impact, Honkai Star Rail) at the upcoming [Anime × Game Festival]( in December. That’s a big slap to the face for Busan’s event, as Shift Up and Hoyoverse had two of the most popular booths last year, and probably the highest number of cosplays.

    As a result, the two biggest games of the year are the mobile port of Lost Ark (@Smilegate) and the mobile port of Dark & Darker (@Krafton). Yay…

    I won’t go into every publisher’s lineup and booth as it is not the point of this thread, but I did note that the ever-growing indie booth, which is sponsored by local PC client [Stove]( (a Steam competitor run by Smilegate), seems more and more biased towards the female and queer audiences, in stark contrast with the country’s AAA landscape.

    Now, for something a little different I had not thought of recommending here…


    @"Tradegood"#510 and all other otome game fans whom it may concern, in case you had ever planned to go to Japan for Tokyo Game Show someday soon, my recommendation is throw those plans right out the nearest garbage chute and instead plan your entire trip around the **Animate Girls Festival**, usually scheduled around late October / early November (it was Nov. 3rd-4th this year) in Ikebukuro Sunshine City.

    Firstly: the weather is still fine, especially in the modern messed up climate. Secondly: you’ll probably get to celebrate Halloween in Tokyo, which is a cool bonus. Thirdly: less Western nerds around you.

    Lastly: the event itself. Well, I assume you already know this if you are the target audience, but it is the biggest otome game event of the year, organized in Ikebukuro which also happens to be the Mecca of otome game / fujoshi / otaku girls culture in Japan.

    The event personally reminded me of events like NYCC or (even moreso) Japan Expo in Paris, with I’d say a similar crowd of around 100.000ish? people attending both days, and a pretty festive atmosphere (lots of cosplays), except it’s all girls everywhere. I’d say there were max 5% guys? Staff included. Felt pretty alienating as a man, quite frankly, and therefore I assume quite fun and comfortable (for once) for women instead.

    There were also very very very few foreigners – at least when it came to non-Far East Asians – which I know is also part of the fun for such far away trips. It also means the event is presently not at all (AT ALL) intended for non-Japanese speaking audiences, and therefore be careful about having to deal with that.

    There were also tons of rules, details and arrangements related to _fujoshi_ culture which were completely foreign to me, such as very strict rules about where visitors are allowed to trade stuff or not, which felt like you needed to be *in the know* to navigate around them. Goods related to the currently most popular stuff were sold out extremely quickly (obviously).

    Sunshine City is already a maze in its natural form and the organizing of the event does not help so I recommend arriving around noon to both profit from the small lull of lunch time and the natural crowd depression post-opening rush, while still getting plenty of time to figure out how the event is set up and see everything (there were five color-coded areas this year). That said, I am not sure how the event works out in terms of tickets, as I got a staff pass from a friend at Aniplex. I assume they can be bought in advance? Anyway, really cool show for people in the mood for pretty anime boys.

    _My_ favorite band was the JR’s own official Yamanote _~~IKEMEN~~_ _EKIMEN_. Ha!


    Thanks for these reports Chaz! Most surprising thing about your star report is the lack of Nexon. But I had felt a dwindling importance of star since I first went there in 2005 - with everything being online and already in beta there felt like little reason to go. I think mobile f2p increased the show's usefulness because you could have local times events and such, but otherwise it always felt like it occupied a dying physical space.

    Still curious about Stove, but they offer no incentives for western devs to sign up and I'm not sure how large a south Korean steam competitor can get.

    Anime otome fest is also interesting - does anyone still pine for the vita days there? I feel like the psp and vita both were otome central toward their final days.

    Hmm G-Star is really the home of mobile and PC, so rather I think what could eventually kill it is the Korean publishers’ newfound passion for consoles. But it’s a worrying trend if the newer faces like Shift Up agree with emerging foreign actors like Hoyoverse that G-Star is not were their young new audience wants to hang out. Maybe that’s also what Nexon, which is doing pretty well with Blue Archive (another anime waifu harem gatcha paradise) these days, agrees upon… I am seriously considering going to check out that new Anime × Game Festival in a few weeks.


    Back to the other « AGF », Animate and Otomate (Idea Factory) went [full onboard Nintendo Switch in 2019]( and clearly told their audience « that’s where we are going now » so I don’t think there is much pining (anymore: fans were quite a bit disgruntled initially when outright told their Vita was Shinda).

    Right now, between Switch, Steam and girls-focussed _gatcha_ on mobile, I don’t think *otome* fans have much to complain about: they have never been so heavily pampered.

    But, more generally than just *otome* fans, I do personally expect a big nostalgia wave towards PSP (even moreso than more popular consoles like PS2 and DS) to surface in Japan in a few years, since the PSP was such an iconic social item for a certain generation of _Heisei_ youth culture in Japan. >!(That’s in part why I bought over 300 PSP games while the prices are still relatively low…)!<

    Speaking of Nostalgia, I also found out on this trip that Bic Ikebukuro never ever changed their storefront design, which is henceforth back to looking cool again.


    @“◉◉maru”#p141282 that storefront is amazing!

    And 300 psp games!? Having seen your living space I'm wondering if you use them for a mattress or what

    @“exodus”#p141334 I have left them all at work in serious-looking, alphabetically marked boxes (A〜D etc.) and pretended it was for research… I did this when there were just a hundred UMD cases or so, and I discretely add new games to the pile early in the morning or late at night when I am alone at work, hoping no one notices that the cardboard boxes keep getting fuller. :raccoon:

    But my team’s real-life « the older caretaking mom secretary archetype » colleague has been seriously side-eyeing me since the last few weeks. Gulp.

    I recently took the Dreamcast and all the japanese Dreamcast games back home as a hopeful diplomatic compromise.