Essen Spiel, Tokyo Game Market are looking to team up to promote each other’s events

Essen Spiel, the world’s biggest board game fair, hopes to launch a co-promotion partnership with Japan’s largest tabletop convention Tokyo Game Market to help boost awareness of both events.

More than 193,000 visitors attended this year’s Essen Spiel fair at the start of October – up more than 30% compared to its 2022 event. Tokyo Game Market, meanwhile, attracted about 25,000 people last weekend for its Autumn show – one of two major events it holds each year.

Essen Spiel communications director Robin de Cleur told BoardGameWire the pair plan to collaborate at Nuremberg’s Spielwarenmesse – the world’s largest toy fair – in January, and again at Essen Spiel 2024 next October.

He said, “We want to help each other promoting the shows, making them even more well known in the respective communities.

“As we all think of games as a great way to bring cultures together, we also plan to work together and bring more Japanese games and exhibitors to Essen and games and exhibitors from SPIEL to Tokyo Game Market.

“As a start of the collaboration, we had a small booth at Game Market and I went there to present SPIEL Essen to the visitors during an interview together with Akihiro Kusano of Arclight, which hosts the show.

“We now continue talks and develop ideas together to further the exchange. That might include a Japanese Pavilion at SPIEL Essen or a Game Market booth as well as in the future a SPIEL Essen presence maybe with European exhibitors at Game Market.

“At this stage we are only starting the conversation and cannot say where it will finally go.”

Imported games are attracting an increasing amount of attention at Tokyo Game Fair, with games such as Spiel des Jahres winners Dorfromantik and Cascadia and Kennerspiel winner Challengers! picking up significant interest, according to a report on this year’s show from Japanese board game news website Tabletop Games in the World.

Japanese publishers such as small box specialist Oink are also gaining increasing amounts of traction and awareness in the European and North American markets.

Oink’s circus-themed hand management card game Scout was nominated for the Spiel des Jahres in 2022, and currently sits in 137th place in the BoardGameGeek rankings.

Oink was present at Essen Spiel this year, jointly exhibiting with fellow Japanese publishers Saashi&Saashi and Itten – a strategy also employed for their appearance at this year’s UK Games Expo.

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