Tokyo Game Show 2012 is one of the world’s biggest industry expos, where the great and good from across the sector gather underneath the glitzy lights of Japan’s most futuristic city, to showcase eagerly anticipated titles of the next twelve months or so.
Previous years have seen everything from Sonic the Hedgehog to Halo’s Master Chief stealing the show. Yet, with the exception of the latest Assassin’s Creed instalment, 2012’s affair was noticeably devoid of big name computer game franchises. Instead this year was all about indie studios and their mobile offerings.
A staggering 507 of the 715 games available to peruse were for tablets and smartphones. Compare this with XBOX 360’s paltry 24 titles and you have an idea of how the gaming environment in Japan is shifting ever further away from consoles.
Everyone knows that the current consoles are coming to the end of their lives and that tablets have always had a bigger following in Japan, but the sheer size of shift has still taken gamers and studios aback. Personal preference aside, price may have a big say in why tablet and smartphone gaming is taking over.
A top of the range console game requires something in the region of £15-25 million to get off the ground, whereas a well constructed tablet equivalent may need a comparatively cost effective £150,000-300,000. Then there’s the cost of the games. You can enjoy a directly downloaded smartphone game for under a pound, while the latest PS3 shooter will hit you for over thirty quid.
However, CEO of Crytek (Crysis and Far Cry) Cevat Yerli has a different theory. He says “The longer we wait for the next generation of consoles, the higher the likelihood that they could fall behind tablets in terms of being the first thing people reach for when the time comes to play games.”
Rumoured problems with the development of next gen consoles mean we could be waiting a lot longer than we expected for the most up-to-date Microsoft and Sony offerings, which then means that come Tokyo Game Show 2013 we might not have any console games of note to look forward to.
Whether the top indie studios specialising in tablet games can carry on their growth remains to be seen, but one thing’s for sure, Crytek and their peers have their work cut out for them in the battle for our gaming time and money.