Once again here at Chiba’s Makuhari Messe convention center, media pass in hand, for Tokyo Game Show (TGS) 15 minutes before the doors opened at 10am And yet, by the time I’d made it to the exhibitor floor for the day, the halls were already swarming with attendees that had gotten there before me, already slashing away at monsters on screens.
Aside from all the anticipation surrounding the games — Final Fantasy VII Rebirth, Tekken 8, Persona 3 Reload and more — one question loomed large over the pre-show buildup: Could TGS 2023 manage to recapture even a fraction of its old, pre-COVID glory? After all, the death of E3 — Los Angeles’ one-time king of gaming conventions — proves that in-person shows are anything but immune to the direct-to-consumer livestreams Nintendo and others have hitched their wagons to as the future of mass-market gaming communications.
However, upon arrival at Kaihim-Makuhari station, the crowds were already hitting Day 1 of TGS and that indicated to me that gamers will still make the trek to Chiba for this annual mecca of mobile, console and PC titles. By the time I made onto the floor at TGS, I could see small clusters of media shooting panoramas of the convention floor. By 12noon, the line for the Persona 3 Reload demo at the Atlus booth was 90 minutes, while Persona 5 Tactica was a 60-minute wait. Resident Evil 4 VR ran out of timed-reservation tickets by 11am, and when I returned to the Atlus booth at 1pm, the line for Persona 3 Reload demos had been closed. Too many gamers to handle.
Keep in mind that Sept. 21 and 22 are media-only days at TGS. The real crowds won’t make their way out to Chiba until the weekend, but it seems safe to make a call now: TGS is coming through on its promise to come back from some dark years with its “largest-ever” show.