Microsoft was probably the most agressive of the big three over the past few years when it came to trade shows. They would be at E3, Gamescom and Tokyo Game Show trying to convince people of all regions that they had the best games. Unfortunately, that won't be the case this year.
Larry (Major Nelson) Hryb announced on his blog this morning that Microsoft would be skipping out on Germany's Gamescom and Japan's Tokyo Game Show this year. For those unaware, Gamescom and TGS are by far the largest gaming events in their respective region drawing thousands of people who want to try out the new games in store.
Previously, Microsoft would use Gamescom to display the new content they had in the works from their European studios. The departure of Peter Molyneux, who headed Microsoft Game Studios Europe and Lionhead, may have had something to do with their absence this year.
The absence from TGS, however, isn't surprising in the least bit. While the Xbox 360 has enjoyed continued success in the U.S. and Europe, it has never found much of an audience in Japan outside of hardcore otaku who love the console's selection of visual novels and shmups. It could be a sign that Microsoft has finally given up on trying to reach any kind of success in the country.
Hryb realizes that this news may be a bit saddening for Xbox fans in these regions who were looking forward to the events. He says that Microsoft will be "focusing on smaller, more localized promotions and experiences for press, partners, retailers and customers around the world." In a way, it's pretty smart. Gamers appreciate smaller events instead of the large industry events that are harder to get into. Sony has seen massive success out of its PlayStation meetups and Microsoft could be hoping to achieve similar success.
The lack of Microsoft and Nintendo at Gamescom and Tokyo Game Show gives Sony a major advantage. They will be the only big player at both of these events so they will be able to grab all of the attention without having to compete. Of course, gamers may flock to Nintendo's and Microsoft's smaller events since they promise to be more intimate.
If all these publishers start skipping out on these big trade shows regularly, it may put them at risk. Gamescom's relevance is already being questioned and Japan's games industry is shrinking to the point where TGS might not even be worth it. It's good to remain optimistic and hope that these trade events stick around, but the industry seems to be heading for what Microsoft and NIntendo are doing now - small, localized events tailored for gamers.