If there’s one pattern that was clear at this year’s Tokyo Game Show, it’s that the major Japanese game publishers have swung back around to console gaming in a very big way. While we’re still seeing plenty of support for existing free-to-play mobile games and a few new ones, companies are investing most of their resources into console gaming once again. Each company’s approach to that idea is a little different, and we can see that clearly by comparing Konami and Bandai Namco’s Tokyo Game Show 2023 line-ups.
Bandai Namco had a very large and impressive booth, with Tekken 8 serving at the main centerpiece. And hey, why not? It’s not every year that a new mainline entry in that series drops. The last time was Tekken 7, back in 2015. This game obviously isn’t coming to mobile or indeed anything less than top of the line consoles and computers. Beyond that, the company has a slate of new entries in established franchises like Tales of and My Hero Academia plus some completely new things like Sand Land and Synduality Echo of Ada. For mobile, the company was only showing existing games like SD Gundam G Generation Eternal and The Idolmaster Shiny Colors: Song for Prism.
Konami’s booth was less obviously fancy than usual, but that didn’t mean it came with empty pockets. By leaps and bounds the biggest source of attention was its upcoming release Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol. 1, which brings the first three Metal Gear Solid games to modern consoles along with a few other odds and ends. The waiting time to play these games were sometimes up to three hours! I guess the old franchise still has some life in it yet if people are willing to wait that long to play some remasters of remasters.
The other big title Konami was showing was the latest entry in its popular Japan-only Momotaro Dentetsu series. It’s coming to the Nintendo Switch, where the previous entry proved to be one of Konami’s biggest console hits in years. It’s a multiplayer-focused board game-style affair, like a more involved and less torturous version of Monopoly. Bomberman and PowerPro Baseball were there as well, and the latter was one of two mobile games Konami featured at the show. The other? Yu-Gi-Oh, of course. Duel Links, to be specific, which just received a major update. Nothing to run up and down the street shouting about, in other words.
While I have little doubt that both Konami and Bandai Namco will have more mobile games in the future, it serves as a good barometer for the Japanese game industry that they both chose to make their major console brand revivals the stars of their respective booths. In some ways, it makes a lot of sense. Are mobile gamers really watching the Tokyo Game Show? I hope they are, or else no one is reading these articles. But console gamers are definitely keeping an eye on the show, which means if you’re going to splash out some money to promote things it might as well lean that way. At least we’ll always have Yu-Gi-Oh.