Tokyo Game Show VR is a tiny but important milestone
At first glance, the idea of virtually attending a VR game show looks extremely promising. Events like E3 and Gamescom are thousands of miles from most people, and some gamers can only dream of stepping onto an exhibit to get their first glimpse of upcoming titles. In theory, a virtual version of these shows allows anyone to do just that.
But, as the Tokyo Game Show VR proves, there are still some hurdles to overcome to make the experience truly compelling.
There is a certain buzz about going through the virtual doors of TGS VR for the first time. This social experience, running on the new xambr platform, pays homage to past TGS events with posters of older shows before entering a lobby dotted with giant statues of Sonic, Monster Hunter, and more. I imagine it’s at least a bit like the excitement of visiting Japan’s new Super Mario park for the first time, and there’s the power to finally see iconic characters in VR, even if it doesn’t. is just a static 3D model.
The layout is also well done. Load up in the main area and you’ll visit a circular hallway of recognizable names, from Sega to Capcom and Konami to Square Enix. It’s incredibly impressive to see these big brands – only a few of which have real VR games going on – involved in the event and an encouraging sign that there is a future for this space.
But after 10 minutes of trawling around the TGS VR trailer series you’ve seen for games we’ve known for a while, that’s about all on offer here. Again, some of the booths are wonderfully themed, including Bandai Namco’s giant tribute to Pacman, Capcom’s Monster Hunter booth, and an incredible diverge path that recreates a scene from Attack on Titan in VR. For the most part, the experience really looks like it should, but beyond that there isn’t much to see or do inside TGS VR.
Certainly, it would be nearly impossible to recreate the “full” experience here. You couldn’t have, say, 100 booths with playable demos of the upcoming Final Fantasy game for endless reasons. But TGS VR could take a page from the excellent virtual market experience inside VRChat, which includes interactive mini-games and experiences to keep you engaged in its celebration of pop culture. Why not let users collect some of Monster Hunter’s ridiculous weapons in VR, for example? Or how about a virtual maze reflecting Dracula’s castle to promote the Castlevania collection?
There are a few attempts at this, including a lackluster 360-degree Attack on Titan video and a metagame that rewards you for watching certain trailers, but they’re not as engaging as you might find elsewhere. .
But I’m not saying all of this to deter. In fact, I’m incredibly happy that TGS succeeded in doing this because, frankly, someone needed it. Even Facebook has yet to make a virtual version of its own Connect conference and, while there are plenty of technical challenges involved, it seems that a VR use case is too big not to test the waters in. this moment.
So it’s more encouraging than anything else. Hopefully E3, Gamescom, and the like all look to the example of TGS VR sets as we move into 2022 and figure out how to beat it. It’s a hectic time for in-person events and TGS VR presents an incredibly interesting way forward. Full marks for the effort, then.