Hackers attack website of Japan’s biggest board game fair, ‘years of irreplacable information’ lost

Hackers have broken into the website server for Game Market, the organiser of Japan’s biggest board games events, causing tens of thousands of images to be deleted from the site.

Game Market runs fairs three times a year in Tokyo and Osaka, with the most recent event last month attracted about 25,000 visitors.

The company said in a statement that its servers were accessed illegally at about 10am Japan Standard Time on May 15, with the hackers replacing all of the images posted on the site with ‘fraudulent’ ones.

Game Market has more than 11,500 games listed on its site going back almost a decade, in addition to over 26,000 blog posts from publishers, designers and businesses such as board game cafes and game bars – all of which lost their images through the attack.

A statement from the organisers posted on the site said exhibitor information and applications for future events were not directly affected, as they are kept on a separate system.

It said, “We sincerely apologize for the loss of the irreplaceable information that you have accumulated over the years. When I think of everyone’s hearts and efforts, I feel an indescribable amount of remorse and apologies.”

The statement said Game Market was working on restoring deleted information, but asked affected companies if they would be able to help by re-uploading images.

It added, “We also take this incident seriously and will take measures such as strengthening server security to prevent it from happening again. We will continue to do our best to ensure that you can use the game market site safely.”

Game Market was launched in 2010 by Arclight, one of Japan’s biggest board game publishers. Its fairs have grown massively in scope over the last few years, with the most recent Spring and Autumn events beating pre-pandemic highs for the number of exhibitor booths.

The Spring 2019 Tokyo Game Market – the last before a year of cancelled events due to the pandemic – had 906 registered booths, which had risen to 1064 at last month’s event.

Last month Arclight was bought by multibillion-dollar Japanese entertainment conglomerate Kadokawa Group, bringing the business into the same stable as companies including video game maker FromSoftware, famous for video games including Elden Ring, Bloodborne and the Dark Souls series.

BoardGameWire reported last December that Essen Spiel was hoping to launch a co-promotion partnership with Tokyo Game Market, to help boost awareness of both events.

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