Smartphones and social networking rule at the Tokyo Game Show

09/23/2012
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Video gaming is big business, and over 200 companies came to a game show in Japan to prove it. But video games are moving out of the den and the living room, into the packets of gamers, smartphones and tablets dethrone the once-almighty gaming consoles.

TOKYO (majirox news) — Japan is known as the home of computer games with millions of users. The world’s largest show devoted to these games opened near Tokyo. With 209 companies showing off more than 1,000 titles and devices.

Games to play on smartphones and tablets stole the limelight on the hardware side. Social networking games took front stage on the software.

“In fact, smartphone shipments are expected to exceed computer shipments during 2012,” said Keisuke Asai, director of Global Management of GREE Inc., a leading mobile social gaming network worldwide with a reach of over 140 million users. “These games used to be for wealthy people, because they had money to buy the hardware and software. But today anyone can play these games on smartphones or computers.”

In 2011, some experts estimated the global market for these products to be a whopping 65 billion dollars.

Old favorites such as Capcom’s “Biohazard” and the latest incarnation of Square Enix’s “Final Fantasy were among the native Japanese offerings, but companies from all over the world were present to demonstrate their developments to the gaming world.

“Some companies also offer viewers a peek at video games for free, and then they can purchase them if they want,” Asai said. “This is one of the reasons that video gaming is growing in developed and developing countries. Regardless of nationality, rich or poor and gender everyone in the world loves playing games.”

Jean, who was at the show, said, “I came from France. It’s incredible and there so many people everywhere. It’s so much fun and the games are so beautiful.”

Once dominant in the marketplace, the gaming consoles devoted to video games are slipping down the ranks. Mobile games played on smartphones, tablets and social media games, are taking over.

Tomoko Honda, who can dress as her favorite character of “Final Fantasy,” said, “I love playing games on my smartphone because I can play it anywhere.”

As gaming is becoming more common, with gamers carrying their virtual lives in their packets and purses to be played anywhere and everywhere. However, here has been concern in Japan about tactics used by game publishers to promote in-game purchases, which have proved expensive luxuries for many gamers.

But whatever the worries of some observers, computer games are still big business. In 2011, some observers estimated the global market for these products to be $65 billion (about the same as the GDP of Ecuador for the same period). This year’s show confirms the continued growth, but also highlights the change from computers to more portable ubiquitous devices, and the use of the Internet as an integral part of more and more games.

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