Tokyo Game Show 2017 report
-VR with smells sends my heart racing, and planning for the first global eSports competition!- Part 1

Tokyo Game Show 2017 (or TGS, for short) is the largest gaming event in Japan. This is not only the most important day of the year for the gaming industry, but also a must?see event for the entire entertainment industry. This year a lot of buzz focused on two specific parts of TGS: eSports and the VR corner! We’ll introduce each of their main points, and then take a look at the developments on display at the booths of some promising companies.

The main floor of Tokyo Game Show 2017

■ The eSports Era: Year Zero

TGS was held from Thursday, September 21st until Sunday, September 24th, at Makuhari Messe. The total attendance didn’t quite reach the same heights as last year, but still a whopping 254,311 people attended, and there were displays from 609 companies and organizations, which is very close to years past. The excitement was plain to see.
“Monster Hunter World,” “Hokuto ga Gotoku,” and other consumer games received a lot of buzz.

 

The booth for “Monster Hunter World”

The popular game school corner

There were many unique creations on display again this year in the indie game corner

This year, for what they’re calling “year zero of the eSports era,” halls 9 to 11 held special eSports arenas. There were special competitions throughout the event, but the excitement reached its peak on Saturday and Sunday, the days on which TGS is is open to the public. Many spectators gathered, and the excitement reached unbelievable levels.

 

The eSports championships main arena on the 24th

The biggest topic in eSports was the announcement of an alliance between the Computer Entertainment Supplier’s Association, the Japan Online Game Association, the Japan e-Sports Association, the eSports Promotion Organization, and the Japan eSports Federation. These five organizations have hosted numerous successful eSports events within Japan. This newly formed alliance is being built with an eye towards the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, the latter of which has already pledged to incorporate an eSports event.

■The Diversification of VR/AR Technology

Below you can see the five most common impressions of people who experienced VR, according to the “Fields Yoka Survey” (*1) carried out by FRI.

 

As you might have expected, “real” was the top keyword.
And at TGS as well, we could see all manner of techniques, and especially new developments in equipment, designed to enhance the realness of the experience.The longest lines in the VR corner were for the Korean developer Sangwha’s “GYRO VR” (hosted at Suho’s booth).The waiting time reached 5 hours on business day. I waited three hours for the experience. The capsule held two people and could move and spin all about in 360 degrees. But anyway, the G?forces were just incredible! It felt like my goggles were about to come loose. The game itself was a shooting game set in the near future, and you rode a fighting robot. But the sense of speed was so intense that there was little time to appreciate the 360 degree VR scenery.
The woman beside me, who I think was Korean, shrieked so loudly in response to something in the game that I imagine she may have attracted the attention of the entire hall…

 

“GYRO VR”

“GYRO VR” display

There were many devices on display which enhanced the “realness” of the experience, for example by letting you actually feel things with your hands, or give you the sense that you were walking, but the device which stood out the most was VAQSO’s unit, the “VAQSO VR,” which emitted odors and scents. Many people gathered here as well.
It’s a simple device which attaches to the bottom of any VR headset on the market and produces smells.

 

VAQSO’s booth

The VAQSO VR device. Scents are emitted through the small holes.

There were a number of VR experiences available which made use of VAQSO VR, but I tried one called “Tomei-Shojo.”
I was in a room with two girls on either side of me, and they repeatedly talked to me. When they’d speak, they would come so close that our faces were almost touching, and I could smell a faint girlish scent. From this faint, momentary scent I felt an unprecedented level of “realness.”Of course, each of the two girls had a different smell.
Aside from “Tomei-Shojo,” cooking games and such were on display as well.

 

“Tomei-Shojo” display

A cooking game

Kawaguchi, the CEO of VAQSO, said “the most difficult part was making a mechanism to quickly eliminate the scents.”VAQSO VR sends a small volume of scent in a beam. This beam is aimed directly under the nose, and is sent at a high velocity. In this way, the user is able to smell the scent quite well, but it can also be eliminated in under one second, so the scents are never mixed.
It is currently capable of emitting three scents, but they hope to soon be able to emit five.

■Our selection of noteworthy companies!

I’d like to introduce some companies from the VR corner that caught my eye through their uniqueness.

■Notable company 1:JPPVR

The JPPVR booth managed to accumulate a line just as long as the aforementioned GYRO VR.
There were three kinds of capsules, starting with “Photon Bike.”

 

 

The JPPVR booth

“Photon Bike”

“Photon Bike” display

There were very large capsules on display, but the most eye catching thing of all was the announcement, which said that in 2018 “[they] will host Asia’s largest VR game competitive event.”All manner of eSports competitions have been hosted, but there is essentially no precedent for a VR game competition. And yet according to a JPPVR representative, they are planning a prize in the tens of thousands of yen. In contrast, the largest prize awarded at the TGS eSports event this year was one million yen.

 

In order to find out what on earth they might be planning, I visited JPPVR’s office in Nihonbashikayabacho in Tokyo, immediately following TGS.

Tokyo Game Show 2017
http://expo.nikkeibp.co.jp/tgs/2017/business/en/

>>Part2

>>Part3

■Recommended Articles

・Three VR Trends Seen from the Newest Places to Experience VR -Part 1-
・How will TV shows change with IoT and VR? First half
・A report on the “JAPAN e-SPORTS LEAGUE” final tournament -First half-

(Article by: Kenichi Nakamura)

Fields Research Institute (FRI) conducts research in entertainment.
This article was written by a member of FRI, through the original coverage of his/her interests observed in their daily lives.

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(※1)Fields Yoka Survey 2017
A web survey carried out in December 2016 which surveyed 11,646 people across the nation from elementary school age to 69 years of age. It queried their behaviors in relation to and their sense of values regarding free time.
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