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Long lines at TGS 2009

Would you wait in line for 5 hours to play a 15-minute demo? That's how long the line was for Assassin's Creed 2. It's kind of crazy how popular that game was at the game show considering that I don't think the first one did well here.

Ubisoft's other games had long waiting periods as well. Splinter Cell, Rabbids Go Home, and Avatar the video game (based on a movie that hasn't even shown yet), had waiting times of 2 hours, while Red Steel 2 was usually around an hour or more. As far as I know, Japanese gamers have very little interest in those games, so I thought it was kind of strange. And Splinter Cell wasn't even really a demo; it was just a presentation.

I asked my friend who works part-time at Ubisoft about what he thought
about the unusually long waiting times, and he said that it was probably because of the free t-shirts, which is a good deal since most of the demos at TGS gave only cheap items like flyers, fans, and postcards. Add that to the fact that game show t-shirts normally retail between 2500 to 3000 Yen, it's no wonder the demos at Ubisoft were so popular.

Many games from other developers had insane waiting times as well, such as Koei's Sengoku Musou 3 (Samurai Warriors 3) for the Wii; at one point, the waiting time was 170 minutes. That's nearly 3 hours! However, in Sengoku Musou 3's case, it isn't really that surprising. Japan is crazy over Koei's "Musou" games (Dynasty Warriors, Samurai Warriors, Dynasty Warriors: Gundam).

And as expected, Final Fantasy XIII was probably the most in-demand game of the show. The Square Enix staff gave away tickets to play this demo, the number of which I think was calculated based on how many people would be able to try the demo until closing time. These tickets ran out by 12 noon. That basically means that whoever got that very last ticket around noontime was probably not going to play the game until just before 5 pm.

Even stores selling game-related goods were packed. At the Capcom and Square Enix stores, people had to line up just to get into the store. It may be hard to see the long lines in the pictures below, but do you see all those people standing in kind of a group? That's not even the store yet. Those are just people lined up to see what's available in the booths.

Perhaps this isn't really all that odd for the Tokyo Game Show. It's highly likely that it's this crazy every year. I guess I've just never been in one place where literally tens of thousands of gamers have congregated in one place. Also, it was really interesting to see the kinds of gamers at the show. I saw whole families there, all with their own individual Nintendo DSs. I even saw some folks who look like they'll be hitting their senior year soon, enjoying a game on their PSP or DS while waiting in line to play a demo.

While I do know that gamers come from all walks of life, it's kind of nice to actually see that in real life, and quite interesting to be with people you have something in common, to feel this energy and excitement going around. And with that, I finally came to understand the meaning of TGS's theme, despite the rather funny English translation.

Games really are energetic.

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