[TGS 2018] The PC Renaissance

I have been attended Tokyo Games Show for many years now (more than 10) and it has always been a gaming event focused on consoles. This is the land of the Playstation after all. The land where PC gamers are shunned because of the local indies hentai games scene that is popular on the platform. People who usually care about PC Hardware are definitely more likely to be otaku – a designation that still carries a number of negative connotations.

In light of such a situation, it is understandable that the biggest game show in Japan focuses more on what attracts the general public to gaming, which is by large the consoles market… and more recently mobile gaming. Traditionally Nintendo does not participate in the Tokyo Games Show. They tend to see themselves as different, and there may have been a history with the organizers of the show in the first place, who knows. During my first visits of the TGS during in 2007 and beyond, there were two main booths that would carry most of the games that mattered. It was Microsoft’s and Sony’s. After the launch of the Xbox One and their utter lack of investment in Japan, Microsoft has stopped all of its presence on the show floor. You can’t see any Xbox anywhere now (while some games are still released locally, in small numbers). Sony has become the new master in town. Most local titles are now aimed at the PS4 first and foremost. This was still the case last year in 2017.

But this year marked a surprising trend. You could find PC games announced almost everywhere. First, on Capcom’s booth. Not surprising, after all, Capcom has been a big proponent of the PC games market overseas, with numerous ports of their big titles over the years. This year’s reveal of Devil May Cry 5 and Resident Evil 2 Remake for the PC surprised no one. But there was something else going on.

Namco Bandai were showing Soul Calibur VI. The return of the famous sword fighting franchise. I thought it was only planned for PS4, but marketing material announced a release for PC on Steam as well. An exception maybe? Far from it. On the same booth, Namco announced the upcoming release of Ace Combat 7 on Windows as well. I guess their first experiment with Tekken 7 proved successful enough for them two new franchises on the PC platform at once. They even plan to release One-Piece: World Seeker on Windows. I guess the popularity of the anime beyond borders is helping.

Was that all? No. The nearby booth of Koei Tecmo showcased Dead or Alive 6. For PS4, of course, but also confirmed, and playable on PC (Windows). Not a first, since Dead or Alive 5 was also released on PC, but still somewhat unusual.

Dead or Alive 6, at the show

Sekiro, the new game from From Software (creators of Dark Souls), will also be hitting the Windows platform in March 2019. Death Stranding, the new game by Kojima after his work on the Metal Gear Solid series, only announced for PS4 at this point, has been hinted a PC release at a later time following a timed exclusive. Tales of Vesperia‘s remastered edition will also land on Windows. God Eater 3, the same. Megaman 11, marking the 30th anniversary of the series, will be granted a Windows version. Tri-Ace is planning to release a full HD version of End of Eternity (which was consoles only back in the days). And guess what? It will be on Steam, too, for Windows.

Of course, there are still a few titles that are apparently not making it to the PC: Kingdom Hearts 3 from Square Enix, or Catherine Full Body, from Sega-Atlus, seem to be decidedly made for the PS4 in mind. Project Judge, by Sega, created by the same people behind the Yakuza series, will only target Playstation as well.

But what excites me the most is that by far and large, the number of “worthy” consoles exclusives is slowing dropping year after year. Japanese publishers were probably the last ones to “hang in there” in support of the local giant, but the era of overlooking the PC platform seems to be over.

Note that this has nothing to do with the local PC market. Japan’s PC gaming market hovers probably just above zero % market share. This is all about capturing overseas’. And Steam has now become a well-known platform to be targeted by such publishers.

Which brings us to good news. More games on Windows don’t translate necessarily to make games on Linux – but there is a good likelihood that some of them will work with Steam Play/Proton (Tekken 7 was whitelisted right at launch of the Steam Play/Proton initiative). And absolutely a much higher probability to ever play them on Linux than if such games only saw the light of day on the PS4.

Linux gamers who have been craving for Japanese titles should finally be able to enjoy a lot more choice form now on. Most of the newer titles are built on Unreal Engine (and some on Unity) as well, opening the door for actual ports in a (distant? mid-term?) future. We will survive with what Steam Play/Proton can support in the meantime. Good times!

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