Ever thought of dining in a sports bar while watching gameplay videos and other related videos? It may sound a little strange but this has been already happening in Tokyo (東京), Japan since October 2016. SQUARE ENIX, a popular Japanese developer and publisher of long-running video game series, has recently opened a sports bar in Ikebukuro’s (池袋) neighborhood. It is a casual yet stylish place following the concept of “theater cafe & dining.” It is expected to promote the fun of video games to several customers.
For great live sports coverage, it is best to head to sports bars in Japan. There are so many celebrated night spots which are great places for watching sports, playing pool, listening to live music, or simply hanging out with friends or meeting new ones. Some of these bars are elegant and sophisticated in nature.
Among the different types of sports bars, the popularity of e-sports is increasing. This is a form of competition by using electronic systems. It is also said to be popular even in the West where certain theater chains host live gaming tournaments for some special events. For those who are not fully aware of this, it actually means business. It is a competition between professional players wherein huge exhibitions are also being conducted. The participation and spectatorship of such events has proliferated which was seen to have a large surge in popularity from the late 2000s to the early 2010s. The growing number of viewership has been supporting a significant number of professional players and teams. Take for example popular games such as DotA (Defense of the Ancients) and StarCraft which have annual tournaments where players compete on the big screen for money.
A popular video game streaming service in the West called “Twitch” allows anyone to set up their own channels and stream their gameplay. However, in Japan, it is still fighting to get noticed. It is still a long way off from the dominance they actually enjoy in the U.S. On the contrary, some players even quit their jobs in the country to live off the subscription and sponsorship revenue. Though e-sports can be done online, almost all e-sports tournaments are always physical events with live audiences. There are referees or officials who monitor the cheating.
SQUARE ENIX has made quite a name for itself. It has several franchises as well as employees worldwide. It is a merge between the companies Square and Enix. Some of its video game franchises are Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts, and Dragon Quest. The company also owns the arcade gaming corporation called Taito which is best known for Space Invaders, Lufia, Arkanoid, and Bubble Bobble.
Square was founded in Yokohama (横浜) by Masashi Miyamoto who graduated from Waseda University (早稲田大学). At first, it was unsuccessful in releasing several games which resulted in its relocation to Ueno, Tokyo in 1987. It then developed a role-playing game called Final Fantasy which sold 400,000 copies. It spawned multiple sequels over the years which ultimately became the company’s main franchise.
Enix was founded by Yasuhiro Fukushima, a Japanese architect turned entrepreneur. It is famous for publishing the Dragon Quest series which became the company’s famous franchise. It was listed as a “large company” on the Tokyo Stock Exchange on November 1999.
Square and Enix merged on 2002 with the goal of mutually decreasing development costs and competing with foreign developers. The company gained possession of Taito’s arcade infrastructure and facilities and entered the arcade market in 2005. It also provided two forays into the film industry.
Though there were several challenges faced by the company, it continued to be successful by acquiring a number of companies since its foundation. It became a holding company in 2008 and was then renamed to SQUARE ENIX HOLDINGS. The main concentration of the company is on video gaming as it is primarily known for its role-playing video game franchises.
In order to give people the chance to enjoy e-sports while dining, SQUARE ENIX recently opened Theater Cafe & Dining STORIA last October 2016. It is closely located to a newly opened gaming center on the west side of Ikebukuro Station.
Apart from the concept where customers can enjoy gameplay videos and other related videos, it will also be offering lunches and dinners for them to enjoy.
Other than SQUARE ENIX’s own published video games, STORIA will also be featuring other publishers’ games. You will be able to see various gameplay videos playing on the screen. Various events for gaming will also be conducted on the stage where customers can join as participants. The company believes that video games are not only enjoyed by playing them but also by spectating videos and online streams.
The concept is something new in the country which is probably very exciting for game lovers. It is hoping to provide an area where video games can be part of everyday life. It is the perfect place for family, friends, and co-workers to hang out at. You can enjoy having meals and tea together while checking out the gaming action at a lighthearted pace. For detailed information, you can check their concept page here (Japanese only).
STORIA, as a dining cafe, is aiming to promote game spectating in Japan. As a country where animation, manga, and video games are proliferating, Japan is indeed the perfect place to offer such advertising. Apart from promoting the competitive playing of video games, the establishment will also help people recognize and appreciate the video gaming industry in the country. So if you’re a video game fan, head to this gaming and dining paradise now!
STORIA Website *Japanese only