Last weekend was the Tokyo Game Show, one of the largest video game conventions in the world. And unlike E3, the general public can attend without any hassle. With the Internet and social media today, chances are you knew all of the details the minute the show started.
What really struck me was the growing presence of mobile gaming. Compared to years past, the presence of mobile-focused presentations has grown significantly.
There are still good games coming out. There are still new systems to look forward to. New Resident Evil, Phoenix Wright, Tekken, Professor Layton, you name it. But I immediately noticed something was a bit different this year. It took a minute to really put my finger on it, but when I did realize, it kind of came as a shock. Mobile gaming has started dominating the industry. Everywhere I looked was a flat screen pinned to a wall vertically, showing off the latest and greatest app.
Companies weren’t showing off the newest graphics or exciting stories, but instead how you can play this game on the fly, and how that game can connect with your friends. Sega’s booth focused entirely on mobiles, Hideo Kojima came up on stage to talk about “Metal Gear Social Ops”, and with exception to maybe Capcom, social network Gree had one of the biggest booths at the show. The traditional games and platforms were there, but they’re losing ground fast.
Everyone’s been saying that mobile gaming is taking over, but to see it at something like TGS, with my own eyes, really makes it hit home. Though at the same time, that brings up a bit of a conundrum. If social network and mobile games are for “the casual masses”, what are they doing at something like this? Are even the hardcore giving way to a much more casual approach to gaming without even realizing it? With the speed at which mobile devices are improving, will consoles even really be a necessity in the future?
It would be unfair to say that I walked away from this year’s TGS without being excited for any upcoming releases (Hello Monster Hunter), but more than anything else it left me with an odd sense of uncertainty as to where the industry will be in 10 years, and if the direction it’s heading is what we really want. Maybe that’s just where the marketing money is focused right now, during this generational gap. Nintendo doesn’t attend TGS, so the Wii U presence was relegated to third parties. In their absence, it seems as those mobile is the only platform with something to prove.