Travel Insights - Japan 2016 (Part 1)

A Game Dev's tour of Tokyo, an Electronic Wonderland

By Sam Turner on September 4, 2016 at 5:00 PM AEST

What does a Game Dev do when they're in Japan for 10 days? Arcades are a good start!

A busy street in Akihabara on a weekend

A busy street in Akihabara on a weekend

Arcades - A gathering place for gamers of all ages

Japan, being the home of many of the World's most successful Video Games companies (Nintendo, Sony, Capcom, Namco etc.) has a thriving arcade games industry. You just have to walk along the streets of Akihabara to see multi-storey arcades standing proud amongst the electronics stores.

Within these monoliths you'll find gamers hunched over classics like Street Fighter, or perhaps you'll see people waving their hands in front of the newest Mai Mai rhythm games. There are many games here that have never seen play outside of Japan, games that are a unique product of Japanese culture and invention.

A small crowd gathers around the machines

A small crowd gathers around the machines

Unique features of Japanese arcades

  • A multitude of input methods. Some with sci-fi like touch controls or peripherals, others emulating musical instruments

  • Being able to pay for games by tapping a smart card loaded with virtual cash

  • Network connected, multiplayer team games

  • Games with entire series of collectible cards that customise the gameplay

  • Games that offer limited experiences as a free trial

  • The adoption of mobile-app-like retention mechanics such as daily rewards and social sharing

Crossbeats REV Sunrise - A fully touch screen based rhythm game

Crossbeats REV Sunrise - A fully touch screen based rhythm game

Crossbeats REV Sunrise (pictured above) is one of these unique and modern games. It's a newly released rhythm game where the player taps and connects dots on a touch screen in time with music. It features up-to-date track lists full of anime, JPop and video game songs to draw in players.

Additionally, by registering a player's smart membership card, it offers a free trial game, daily rewards and the opportunity to participate in various marketing campaigns to unlock special content.

Learnings and insights

Creating a popular game that will entertain players and stand out is no easy task but nearly all the games I played and observed during my trip were in demand. For older games, brand awareness, nostalgia and the spirit of competition bring back players again and again. Newer games on the other hand, succeed with a combination of innovative control methods, cross promotion with popular brands, retention mechanics and incentives.

If we had the same quality and variety of games at the arcades here in Australia, I'd be there gaming all the time!

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