CHIBA, Japan - The Tokyo Game Show opened on Thursday with enthusiasts testing how ultra-high-speed 5G mobile data networks will impact the gaming experience ahead of the technology's commercial rollout in Japan in 2020.
Game makers, related network developers, and esports promoters cite their sector as one which will benefit from next-generation wireless networks that are expected to allow players of increasingly popular online games to utilize faster downloads and smoother connections.
"5G technology featuring large capacity, high speed, low latency and allowance for simultaneous connection by multiple users will innovate the world of gaming," Hiroyuki Yoshida, director of major mobile phone carrier NTT Docomo Inc.'s consumer business department, told a crowd gathered at its booth at the annual extravaganza in Chiba Prefecture east of Tokyo.
Docomo is allowing visitors to experience augmented reality game "Street Fighter V Arcade Edition," where users can watch battles between three-dimensional characters that are superimposed on their current physical location via their smartphone screens.
The carrier, which will start commercial 5G services in 2020 along with rivals KDDI Corp., SoftBank Corp. and Rakuten Inc., will also organize tournaments where up to 100 players can be simultaneously connected at the Makuhari Messe convention center.
The next-generation services can send and receive data around 100 times faster than current 4G technology. Smartphone users, for example, will be able to download a two-hour movie in just three seconds.
The technology is also expected to contribute to the expansion of cloud-based gaming on computers and smartphone connected to the internet that do not require users to purchase dedicated game consoles, such as Sony Corp. PlayStation or Nintendo Co.'s Switch devices.
Google LLC said in March it will launch its own cloud gaming service in 2019, while Apple Inc. is set to roll out new game subscription services, posing a major challenge to traditional game console makers.
Continuing the trend of recent years, the Tokyo Game Show also featured esports competitions on two big special stages each with 500-seat stadia for spectators. Organizers are hoping to entice more domestic players into the fast-growing competitive gaming market.
Esports is already popular in South Korea, the United States and Europe, but not so much in Japan where online competitive gaming is still at a relatively early stage.
The four-day game show is expected to draw over 250,000 visitors to see the 655 exhibitors, including 305 from some 40 countries, showcasing their latest products, according to organizers Computer Entertainment Supplier's Association and Nikkei Business Publications Inc.
The event is open to the media and industry officials for the first two days and to the public for the remainder.