TOKYO -- Japan's biggest game event will kick off this Thursday, with developers and publishers from around the world gathering in Makuhari Messe, a convention hall just outside Tokyo.
With close to 700 exhibitors, the Tokyo Game Show 2019 is expected to be bigger than ever and will showcase an array of content, including games that use cutting edge technology including 5G, artificial intelligence and blockchain.
Top Japanese mobile carrier NTT Docomo has caused a buzz after announcing its participation in the event. The company, which is preparing for Japan's commercial roll-out of fifth-generation network technology, will have a booth with a built-in 5G environment to allow visitors to play games using the new tech.
People will be able to use 5G accessible smartphones to participate in multiplayer esports (or electronic sports) games. Games such as PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds by South Korean game studio PUBG Corporation and U.S. game company Epic Games' popular title Fortnite will be featured. Visitors to the booth will also be able to watch a professional esports competition of Konami's Winning Eleven soccer game.
The keynote speech at the expo will also focus on 5G. A panel of experts, including Kazuki Morishita, president of GungHo Online Entertainment, which is famous for hit smartphone game Puzzle and Dragons, and Ethan Wang, vice president of Chinese game group NetEase, will discuss the future of gaming and the impact of 5G technology.
The advent of 5G networks will see faster internet speeds and could create a more reliable smartphone connection with fewer delays. Some analysts are predicting it will help the spread of cloud-based gaming. U.K. based market research company TechNavio forecasts that the global cloud gaming market will see a compound annual growth rate of more than 30% between 2018 and 2022.
Major global tech companies including Microsoft, Google and Japan's Sony have all announced plans to launch or start research on next-generation cloud-based gaming platforms and services.
As of the end of August, the number of companies and organizations participating in the Tokyo game show had reached 655, including household names like Sony, Konami, Capcom and Sega Games. Of these, nearly half are from outside Japan, from countries including China, Taiwan, South Korea, Thailand and Malaysia. The expo, with its large scale and massive visitor appeal, is an important business opportunity for Asian game startups who wish to spread awareness about their content and services.
Overall game titles and content that will be displayed by participants will be over 1,500 and will include popular content such as esports and virtual reality.
The event will run for four days until Sunday, with companies competing to draw visitors to their booths. Last year, the number of visitors exceeded 290,000.
By comparison, the E3 annual global game convention held in Los Angeles gathers around 200 exhibitors on average. Last year, about 66,000 people visited over the course of its three-day run.