September 19, 2013 4:50 PM | Lena LeRay
For the first time in its history, Tokyo Game Show has an Indie Games Area. It's a very small part of the show, but it's there. For the business days, there are 18 indie game developers showing off their stuff at booths which each take up about 1 square meter of floor space. When the public days hit, that number will almost triple to 51, including the finalists from Sense of Wonder Night. In spite of the relatively small amount of floor space they took up today, however, the impact of indie games could be felt throughout the venue.
It started with the keynote speech, where representatives from Sony reaffirmed a commitment to working with indie developers. Nothing particularly new was said, but it was nice to hear it right at the beginning of the day. Ads from Sony and Famitsu highlighted some indie games coming to Japan such as Octodad: Dadliest Catch, Contrast, and Blacklight: Retribution. The same ad booklets included a few other indie games such as Terraria, though since those other indie games found their way onto PlayStation devices via publishers, they weren't featured as indie games.
Tomorrow brings a two-hour talk about independent games scheduled for late afternoon, titled Can you eat off of indie games?! The new circumstances of Japanese indie games. Now that it's easy for anyone to make games and deliver them to consumers, a lot of new gaming experiences are being created. How can developers, particularly Japanese developers, take advantage of this and still make a living?
The indie games area itself was constantly abuzz. The developers had barely enough room to show their games to more than one or two people at a time, but as soon as one person left, another was ready to take their place. The developers themselves came from all over the world; Japan, Taiwan, Canada, Sweden. Games such as Analogue: A Hate Story and They Bleed Pixels were there to promote localizations of games long established in the English-speaking world. Others were there promoting games which are being produced in Japan, though the developers want to expand into other markets. And the games were as varied as their developers.
Overall, it felt to me like the indies, though only a small part of the show, were there because they were wanted. They didn't have the longest lines or the most spectacular displays, but their presence was no accident.