Microsoft’s Tokyo Game Show 2020 Was Super Sad

With E3 out of the running this year, the gaming world quickly turned to the Tokyo Game Show for their gaming highlight fix. This was actually my first time to experience a full-fledged Tokyo Game Show presentation live as I usually skip them since they’re normally done in Japanese. And since I don’t understand Japanese, I usually wait for the translated version or just watch highlight clips on the Internet.

This year was different because, one, there was no E3 so there were no really big announcement presentations or trade shows so far. Two, they did get translated either because they were pre-taped packages or, like with the Sega Fan Meet-Up, done live with a couple of translators valiantly but ultimately failing to translate the rapid fire speeches in a timely manner. It boggles the mind as to why Sega decided to do a live presentation when a pre-taped show would’ve sufficed and would’ve made the job of the translators much easier. I’m not bashing them but praising them as you can tell they were trying their best! Kudos to them for giving it their all!

However, before Sega’s presentation, gamers all over the world were treated to Microsoft’s Tokyo Game Show presentation. To me, this was actually the show I found the most intriguing coming in. After all, Microsoft’s Xbox consoles, despite being a serious competitor in the console wars for years, has not made a significant dent in Japan because, well, it isn’t a Japanese brand. With the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S systems getting a worldwide release in November, this was their time to put their best foot forward and blow everyone who was watching the Tokyo Game Show, which primarily cater to the Japanese audience, and sell the beejeezus out of their upcoming systems.

Since none of the Xbox systems have sold particularly well, I was expecting Microsoft to go all out and show Japanese audiences that this is the year to get one. This was the system you’ve been missing out on all these years and Xbox Series X and Series S had the games you had to play. Unfortunately, what we got was probably one of the saddest, if not the saddest, presentations I’ve seen from a game company. And I’m not even gonna mention how they didn’t have any English translations for the live show!

I guess it was unfair to even put any hopes that Microsoft would put on a showstopping presentation at this year’s Tokyo Game Show. They even said ahead of time that they weren’t going to show any new trailers or anything particularly mind-blowing. But, honestly, I was thinking – no, hoping – it was just some smokescreen for something amazing they had up their sleeves. Maybe they were going to slip in a new project they’ve been working in secret with Bethesda, which is why they purchased it before TGS. Maybe they were going to announce they had just bought out Sega lock, stock and barrel and announce it then and there. Maybe, just maybe, they were going to announce that they were going to get Final Fantasy VII Remake Part 1 and say it’s going to run at a solid 60 fps with 4K graphic resolution… and you can only get that experience on the Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S. I was just expecting something to really entice Japan to finally get an Xbox en masse.

But what did we get? Probably one of the weirdest and tone deaf presentations I’ve ever seen!

Okay, not everything was God-awful. There were a few high points but, sadly all of them were high points in previous conferences or they aren’t going to be exclusive on the Xbox systems. Bright Memory Infinite looked stunning, which is especially impressive when you consider it was made by one guy! However, it isn’t an exclusive. A new series in the R-Type is always welcome on any system but, like Bright Memory Infinite, it isn’t an exclusive. Scarlet Nexus looked kind of flat but the action does look fast paced enough to be good. And, once again, not an Xbox exclusive! Okay, the announcement of cloud gaming on the Xbox Series X and Series S sounds really good for Japanese gamers… maybe? Still, that’s a big thing to reveal, I guess. It was also nice to see a lot of Japanese developers and personalities actually say they’ll be supporting Microsoft’s new console, so there’s hope they won’t be left out in the dust by Japan!

What did Microsoft fill the rest of the time with? Mostly clips that we’ve seen before, so what Microsoft prophesied when they said they wouldn’t show anything new came true. But that would’ve been okay if they didn’t devote so much time to two particular games: Microsoft Flight Simulator and, of all things, Minecraft.

Now, I have nothing against any of these games. Microsoft Flight Simulator does look really good and they did use this time to announce the new World Update Japan package. Microsoft did a good job in showing how gorgeous the game renders all the cities and landmarks of Japan as you whiz on by in whatever flying machine you may be piloting at the time. It was smart to announce it during Tokyo Game Show but, in retrospect, does Microsoft Flight Simulator scream “system seller” to Japanese gamers? I don’t think they’re all that big on plane simulators. Train simulators, maybe. But not plane simulators. Also, the trailer did look kind of boring. At least show the planes taxiing for takeoff or landing in one of the airports or something like that.

But the absolutely worst thing that made Microsoft’s TGS presentation incredibly sad was the focus on Minecraft. For one thing, it’s Minecraft! A game that any system, even the cheapest mobile phones, can play! And they devoted something like half the show to it! Now, I’m guessing they put so much time into this segment because Minecraft must be super popular in Japan. Even I can tell it is since they did show television shows featuring the game as well as hyperactive commentators and Let’s Players in Japan super excited. They did show some of the upgrades Minecraft is getting with the lighting engine. But… really? That’s how you’re going to promote your latest next-gen system? Minecraft? No matter how fancy the lighting is, it’s still Minecraft in my book!

I left the entire Microsoft Tokyo Game Show befuddled with how tone deaf the entire show was to me. This was Microsoft’s opportunity to wow Japan with their new system but it’s almost like they didn’t try. Then again, I’m not Japanese so I’m not sure if this was all a calculated move and, after seeing it, Japanese gamers were all of sudden drooling for a new Xbox Series X and Series S. Maybe all of this was focus tested to specifically target the Japanese gamer’s mind. I can’t answer that.

What I can say definitively is that I really, really didn’t like Microsoft’s Tokyo Game Show presentation as there was nothing there to hook me into getting their new system. To me, it was a very sad attempt and a huge missed opportunity to really highlight the best reasons to get their next generation system.

What did you think of Microsoft’s Tokyo Game Show presentation? Let me know in the comments section below!

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