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TGS 2008: The Aftermath

With Tokyo Game Show 2008 still fresh on the mind, I took a moment to look back at what happened, and more importantly what didn’t. Who was the big winner, who lost out?

Wii

Nintendo was its typical no show. I still am amazed that they feel no desire to be present on their home turf’s largest gaming show of the year. Yet, there they weren’t. Just like years past, Nintendo, for all intensive purposes, thumbed their nose at the show and still managed to come out seemingly fine. There were a few notable announcements for the Wii; “Monster Hunter 3” and “Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World” topped the list. Then there was “Let’s Tap”, seemingly childish, will more than likely become a huge hit following the gimmicky trend Nintendo seems to have mastered. Again, nothing special but for whatever reason they came out of this in no worse shape.

Grade: C (a no-show earns them nothing higher)

Xbox 360

Microsoft came into the show with seemingly no chance to impress. While they didn’t wow anyone, they certainly didn’t fall on their face either. New notables were sparse but there were some that impressed. For the first time ever, “Tekken 6” will go multiplatform. This is a nice “Me Too” game for MS to have in the market and shows again the developer support strides the 360 & Microsoft have made in Japan. “Ninja Blade” and “Ninety-Nine Nights II” were the two “big” Japanese tilted games announced, but I don’t think they had that home-run feel at the show.

“Halo 3: Recon” was also announced during the show. This is particularly interesting to me. It’s clearly a Western game, yet MS chose to use TGS as their announcement venue. Is this a smart move? From a Westerner standpoint, the game announcement felt like a thud rather than a bombshell. However, MS showed a lot of respect to the Japanese market by making this announcement there. Does it matter? In short term probably not, but in the long run it shows that MS still sees Japan as an important market and continues to show them proper attention.

MS did what they needed to do. They came in force with all their current and upcoming games, had a few notable announcements, made the keynote address, and basically maintained their position with Japan. They didn’t set the gaming forums ablaze but they didn’t take any steps backward either. Considering the recent progress made in Japan, keeping pace is exactly what they needed to have happen.

Grade: B

PS3:

Lastly we have Sony, who might as well not have shown up at all. Sony had no real conference for the show which was very odd given they were attending in force and it is their backyard as well.

Sony promised a number of un-announced titles (11) which became a point of contention and debate in forums abroad. Many viewed this as 11 games they had not announced to be showing at TGS 08, and others took it to mean 11 new games nobody has heard of. The reality is still a bit foggy, but Sony didn’t create any kind of buzz with the newly announced games anyway so it’s a moot point.

The list of notable “new” games is decent, yet what one would not expect from Sony at a TGS event. “Gran Turismo 5 Prologue Spec III” was a tad surprising, only because everyone was expecting to see Sony showing off the full Gran Turismo 5 game. “Metal Gear Online: Meme Expansion” just felt like a money grab, and honestly nobody will be playing this game once “RFOM2” and “Killzone 2” are out, so who really cares? “Quantum Theory”, “Demon’s Souls” and “Way of the Samurai” all could be decent, but it’s far too early to tell and just didn’t pack the punch needed for good buzz. Lastly “Dress” and “Derby Time Online” were also announced. Need I say more?

“White Knights Chronicles” and “Yakuza 3” seemed to be the talk of the show behind “Little Big Planet”. These games all appear to be on track for success with LBP seemingly becoming Sony’s mega hit for the holiday.

All in all, it just felt like business as usual for Sony. This is just coming on the heels of the news that for the first time since launch, the PS3 was in last place for Next Gen hardware sales in the month of September. This is hardly the kind of showing I expected from Sony. Does Sony feel they are in such a good position with the impending launch of LBP that they didn’t need to do too much at TGS? Whatever they thought, they missed the mark and the opportunity to take back momentum to the PS3.

Grade: D (to be fair this grade could be slightly higher but not much higher)

So there you have it. What is more surprising than each of the 3 console makers showing at the event is the lack of excitement TGS 08 gave off to the rest of the world. Just 2 months back, many talked about how TGS would push past E3 as the most important gaming event in years to come. If this is any indication of what we can expect in the future, E3 is just fine.

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