Virtual reality is the name of the game for the next few years

Virtual reality is the name of the game for the next few years
The PlayStation Booth at the Tokyo Game Show 2015, held at Messe convention centre in Chiba, Japan.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

This year's Tokyo Game Show (TGS) was a harbinger of the shape of the gaming landscape over the next few years.

The booths that dominated the show floor and drew the longest queues showcased virtual reality headsets, which are expected to hit the shelves early next year.

Japanese consumer electronics firm Sony's first virtual reality headset PlayStation VR was a big draw with those attending the show.

Other virtual reality headset makers include United States start-up Oculus VR, which social media giant Facebook acquired in March last year for US$2 billion (S$2.8 billion), and South Korea's Samsung.

Samsung's Gear VR is essentially a Samsung smartphone strapped to headgear.

Mr Tan Chee Ming, business development strategist at Singapore University of Technology & Design's Game Lab, said that initial demand for these headsets may come from commercial users.

"I do see a potential for VR headsets to be used widely at activities and events with interactive on-site installations," he said.

Consumers may come on board only after more games that work with these headsets are introduced, he added.

Mobile games also put up a strong showing at the four-day event, with a whopping 40 per cent of the 1,283 games exhibited during the event being mobile titles.

One of the most extravagant displays at the convention was an airship, carrying models dressed in costume. It was promoting Granblue Fantasy, a role-playing mobile game released in 2013 that was developed by Japanese company Cygames.

The shift in consumer demand from console games to mobile games has also affected studios such as Japan-based Konami, the company behind well-loved console titles such as Metal Gear and Pro Evolution Football.

It has reportedly ceased the development of such blockbuster titles to focus on games such as a mobile version of Pro Evolution Football and mobile baseball game Power Pro.

The localisation of games for the Mandarin-speaking market is another focus area for Japanese game makers. At Sony's pre-TGS press conference, the company said it will be localising games for the burgeoning Chinese market, where the PlayStation 4 (PS4) was released in March this year.

Sony Computer Entertainment Japan Asia deputy president Hiroyuki Oda said that the company will be making Chinese versions of the soon-to-be-released Call Of Duty: Black Ops III and Star Wars: Battlefront titles.

This is the first time in the history of both franchises that the games are being translated into Chinese.

"When we first launched, we had only Japanese and English versions... We attracted the hardcore gamers," Mr Oda told The Straits Times. "But to reach casual users, they need to have it in their own language. That is the reason we are making an increased number of localisations."

When asked whether Sony would be localising VR content for the Asian market, Mr Oda kept mum, but gave a hint of what is to come.

"We haven't released any official comment... but many developers from all over the world have shown interest in developing VR content," he said.

"This includes developers from Singapore, Taiwan, China and other places in Asia, and we are very keen to expand growth in these Asian regions."


This article was first published on September 25, 2015.
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