The Japan Amusement Expo (or JAEPO) is the premier Japanese event for news on the latest games and attractions coming to Japanese arcades. It’s at these events where many major arcade manufacturers show off their latest plans, such as in 2019 when Konami showcased updates for popular titles like Bombergirl and the 20th-anniversary edition cabinet for Dance Dance Revolution. The 2020 rendition of the event went ahead in February before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in Japan and elsewhere, and though there’s still 4 months until the planned 2021 event, the Japan Amusement Industry Association has taken the pre-emptive decision to cancel JAEPO 2021.
— am-net公式アカウント (@amnet_official) October 1, 2020
Although JAEPO 2021 wasn’t scheduled to take place until February 5th and 6th, 4 months from now, the current COVID-19 pandemic has been cited as the reason for the event not going ahead next year. In the association’s view, since the COVID-19 pandemic shows no sign of ending anytime soon, the risk of holding an in-person event in February would be great. Also, due to the effect the pandemic has already had on manufacturers and operators alike, even if the event were to go ahead, many wouldn’t have new machines to display to the public, while arcades themselves lack the cashflow needed to purchase new machines due to lower attendances.
While the reasons for the event’s cancelation are understandable and the impact of COVID-19 on the amusement industry is severe, JAEPO 2021 will go ahead in a scaled-down format as an online-only event. Details of this new operation procedure are yet to be announced, but this was unanimously approved by the Japan Amusement Industry Association board.
While the cancelation of this event may be disappointing for many, the risks associated with hosting such an event at Makuhari Messe as originally planned make the idea unfeasible. It also goes to show just how severe the effects of COVID-19 have been on the amusement industry, and many will be hoping it can recover whenever the pandemic eventually subsides.