Metaverse, VR in the spotlight at the opening of the Tokyo Game Show

The Tokyo Game Show opened to media and industry figures on Thursday, with the general public allowed to attend in the coming days for the first time since the outbreak of the coronavirus, highlighting the latest titles and technologies metaverse and virtual reality.

The annual extravaganza for video game enthusiasts, one of the largest of its kind in the world, is being held until Sunday at the Makuhari Messe convention center in Chiba, near Tokyo. The general public will be able to access the show from Friday afternoon.

The show has been held largely online for the past two years due to coronavirus pandemic restrictions and the organizer expects to attract some 150,000 visitors over the four days this year.

The Tokyo Game Show opens at the Makuhari Messe convention center in Chiba on September 15, 2022. (Kyodo)

About 600 companies and organizations from 37 countries and regions, including Japanese giants Capcom Co. and Square Enix Co., are participating in the event. Despite reopening to the public, some of the exhibits are still accessible online, according to the organizer, the Computer Entertainment Supplier’s Association.

“People have come to reevaluate the intrinsic value of the games during the pandemic as they serve as a communication tool,” said Hideki Hayakawa, the organizer’s chief, during the opening ceremony.

“We want people to enjoy the thrill of games both in the real world and online.”

The metaverse has become a buzzword in the gaming industry and beyond as more companies, from game developers to banks, have begun to see the commercial potential of a virtual world that allows users to shop, attend events and communicate with each other from anywhere.

During the keynote, Bandai Namco Holdings Inc. said it was developing a Gundam-themed metaverse, a robot featured in its popular animations.

“We want to create a space where fans around the world can gather and connect,” said the company’s Chief Gundam Officer, Koji Fujiwara.

Facebook Inc., the operator of its namesake social media service, changed its name to Meta Platforms Inc. last year to focus on its metaverse business, drawing public attention to the budding technology.

As part of efforts to promote public interest in virtual reality, the company showcased its Meta Quest 2 VR headset for the first time on the game show, along with seven titles, including the popular music game “Beat Saber and a new shooter “X8.”

Capcom has introduced a VR version of its popular survival horror title “Resident Evil Village”, specially developed for Sony Group Corp’s PlayStation VR2 VR headset. which should go on sale next year.

The high-quality graphics and 3D audio are particularly effective at immersing a player in a spooky game world, Capcom said.

Metaverse venture Cluster Inc. has announced the launch of a game based on Pop-Up Pirate, a popular toy that sees players take turns sliding toy swords into a barrel with the player popping the pirate doll out of the losing barrel .

“Metaverse is a big move that goes beyond the game genre,” said general manager Naoto Kato. “We want to create a world where you can be whoever you want to be and live the lifestyle that’s right for you.”

As Japan increasingly relaxes antivirus restrictions, the number of participating organizations is back to around 90% of that seen in 2019, which was 655. The number of titles on display is 1,864, surpassing 1,522 in 2019.

The Tokyo Game Show is one of the three biggest gaming events in the world, along with E3 in the US and Gamescom in Germany.

A visitor tries out a virtual reality game at the Tokyo Game Show at the Makuhari Messe convention center in Chiba on September 15, 2022. (Kyodo)

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