CHIBA, Japan (AP) — It's not quite game over at the annual Tokyo Game Show opening Thursday, but with smartphones, tablets and other computer-like devices luring people away from the once-dominant consoles devoted to video games, the rules have changed.
Adding to the uncertainty is the long wait for the possible successors to such game consoles as Sony Corp.'s PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox 360 — perhaps a PlayStation 4 or Xbox 720. Nintendo's Wii U home console goes on sale in November in the U.S. and Europe, and on Dec. 8 in Japan.
"The game industry in general is still very much in a state of flux," said game veteran Mark MacDonald, executive director at Tokyo-based 8-4, which localizes and consults about games, including the "Monster Hunter" series, one of the blockbusters displayed at the show.
"Mobile and social games continue to grow, and although some business models have emerged, everyone still seems uncertain of their future. Will they keep growing? Will they be looked back on as a fad? Or are they the future?" MacDonald said.
Some of the booths at Makuhari Messe hall in this Tokyo suburb looked familiar, with big screens running trailers of the latest versions of hit games like "Biohazard" from Capcom and "Final Fantasy" from Square Enix. But some booths also had games for smartphones.
Gree Inc., founded in 2004, has risen to stardom through social games, often played on smartphones, in which players can interact and cooperate with each other. Gree had the second biggest booth at the show after Capcom.
Yoshikazu Tanaka, founder and chief executive of Gree, was not only bullish about smartphones and social games, he said he was also looking to emerging markets for the next wave of growth.
He said game consoles will not catch on in some developing nations, but people there had mobile phones, presenting opportunities for Gree. In a decade, emerging nations will make up 80 percent to 90 percent of the game market, he predicted.
Gree is rapidly growing, tripling its employees to more than 1,800 over the last year. The startup now has overseas offices, including San Francisco, London, Beijing, Sao Paulo and Dubai — determined to conquer emerging markets, he said.