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Tokyo Game Show 2012 verdict: Record attendance, rapid diversification

The Western games press has been spending the past few years bemoaning the decline and fall of the Japanese video game industry. To the group that puts on the Tokyo Game Show each year, the question might be "What decline?"

The 2012 TGS event, held from September 20th to the 23rd, attracted a total of 223,753 visitors, far outclassing the industry-only E3 expo and placing second in overall size only to Gamescom in Europe (which attracted over 275,000 back in August). No mean feat, considering that two out of TGS's four days are industry only.

TGS 2012 set a couple other new records: A total of 1043 games were on display, and an amazing 94,989 people crammed the Makuhari Messe expo center on Saturday, September 22nd, a new single-day record. It was to the point where one Famitsu reader reported having to wait over an hour to use the men's bathroom in the afternoon.

What were gamers looking for at TGS? Capcom software, for the most part. The company overwhelmingly won the "best booth" award as voted upon by Famitsu readers, thanks in large part to playable demos of Monster Hunter 4, Ace Attorney 5 and Resident Evil 6. Namco Bandai Games was a fairly distant second (big draws there included Tales of Xillia 2 and a bunch of otaku-oriented stage events), followed by Sega, Konami and Square Enix.

Big games were no doubt a major draw for TGS visitors, but as Famitsu's editors put it in their recap, the attendance record is also a testament to how the show organizers at the Computer Entertainment Supplier's Association have reinvented the show in recent years to be a more diverse entertainment destination for Japanese people.

"What I'm seeing is that the event's going beyond just having demos and promotional videos and is trying hard to have a lot of different stuff for visitors to enjoy," one writer put it. "That trend's been growing more and more prevalent each year, to the point that it's becoming more of a generally entertaining weekend event the whole family can come to. That's not a bad thing, and I think that's a big reason why attendance set a new record this year despite the generally gloomy feeling some people have about the industry. I get the impression that most visitors coming out of the expo hall felt like the future of games is brighter than ever."

And lest we forget: In the all-important booth babe survey, Capcom also won handily, fending off other lady-laden stands like Sega, GREE and social-game developer Gloops. "Capcom's booth, which featured a wide range from sexy to cute to enthrall visitors, scored the top spot easily!" Famitsu breathlessly wrote.

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