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TGS Needs New Line Policies

Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy XIII lines close as soon as show opens its doors.


One of the biggest stories from last year's Tokyo Game Show was Monster Hunter 3's legendary five hour waits. This year, presumably in an attempt to combat such lines, show organizer CESA implemented a show-wide ticketing system, where players could obtain reserve tickets for particular games in advance.

Whatever the plan was, it didn't work. While I didn't see any five hour lines on the show's first public day yesterday, two hour waits were a pretty common sight. Waiting two hours to play a game for fifteen minutes is just as stupid as waiting five hours, if you ask me.

I already detailed this on the TGS event mobile blog, but the lines got ugly real quick. As has been previously promised, CESA opened the doors about thirty minutes in advance of the scheduled 10:00 opening time. I raced in from the press entrance at the end of the hall opposite the general entrance en route to the Resident Evil Darkside Chronicles demo area. While I was one of the first people in line for that, upon leaving 20 minutes later, a line of over 100 minutes had already formed!

Touring the show floor at this point just 20 minutes into the official starting time, I saw that Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep and Final Fantasy XIII's play tickets had already been distributed for the day. For games that went the line-only approach, like RE and Tales of Graces, waits of 120 minutes were not uncommon at this point. Some of the smaller titles, like Lunar, which had just a couple of kiosks available, had already closed off their lines at this point (Lunar's would open up again later in the day, but with waits of 120 minutes).

Probably the two biggest games at the show, Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy XIII filled up quick.
Resident Evil, Bayonetta, and End of Eternity were all closed off by about 1:00 or so.
No chance for Valkyria Chronicles 2. Even Sega's official booklet ran out by 2:00 or so.
More Square Enix waits: Dragon Quest VI and Four Warriors of Light Final Fantasy Gaiden.

Sony took a somewhat interesting approach to its bleacher-like PSP play area. Tickets for individual games, which included most major third party offerings, were distributed every hour. If the tickets for the upcoming time slot had been distributed, you could come back later in the hopes of getting a slot.

Sony's PSP games billboard. All the time slots for two hours later were taken.
At around 2:00, Gran Turismo 5 had 30 minute waits for the controller version and 100 minute waits for the cockpit version.
Front Mission Evolved's lines varied on if you played it in the Sony booth (left), the Square Enix booth (center) and the Microsoft booth (right).

The worst line I saw at the show was, oddly enough, Halo 3: ODST. It had waits of two and a half hours. Even more baffling was that it had actually been released to retail earlier in the day. If you wan to play the game that much, how about buying an Xbox 360?

Tales of Vesperia on the PS3 was also another baffling case. It commanded waits of two hours, despite having already been released on the 17th.

Namco Bandai lines. Graces and .hack were closed off. Vesperia had a two hour wait, even though it's already available in stores.

I may have actually missed the worst line of all, though. Famitsu.com got a pic of an Assassin's Creed II line with a five hour and thirty minute wait. The site speculates that the wait could be due to the t-shirt that Ubisoft was giving to those who sampled the game.

Halo and Assassin's Creed. Popular, these foreign games are.

To give you an idea of the kind of numbers publishers are dealing with here, Famitsu.com provided a couple of interesting line stats. TGS's public days usually get between 60,000 and 70,000 visitors. According to Famitsu.com, Square Enix distributed 1,300 tickets for Final Fantasy XIII and 660 tickets for Kingdom Hearts.

I imagine a lot more than that wanted to sample at least FFXIII. Perhaps Square Enix should consider doubling their kiosk count next year.

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