Welcome to Famiboards' first (and hopefully inaugural) BitSummit thread! Now in its 9th (!) year, BitSummit is Japan’s premiere indie games expo. Despite running for so long it’s remained a relatively obscure event to many Western enthusiasts largely due to a lack of coverage outside of Japan. I can’t make any promises that this thread will convince people to pay more attention, but my hope is that by having a designated place to discuss the event and news coming out of it that it’ll help raise public consciousness about the event and encourage more coverage in the future.
Sorry not sorry for the terrible Kingdom Hearts BBS reference in the title
First things first, when is BitSummit this year?This year’s show is BitSummit X-Roads and is happening Saturday August 6th and Sunday August 7th. Much like the Tokyo Game Show, the first day of the show is strictly for business with the second day open to the general public.
What is BitSummit exactly?BitSummit is an annual video game show / conference specializing in Japanese indie developers although there is a small presence from teams from outside of Japan. Probably the best way to think of it is something like the Indie Megabooth on a larger scale mixed with Tokyo Game Show.
You can learn more about the show on the official website: https://bitsummit.org/en/
Where is BitSummit held?BitSummit is held annually in Kyoto, Japan which is the big hotspot for indie developers in Japan and is home to several of the indie developers behind the show such as Q-Games (PixelJunk series), 17-Bit (Galak-Z), and Vitei (Steel Diver).
It’s also home to a certain company I'm not going to name. However, I will say that many of us on this forum should be very familiar with them.
Is there a schedule?Here's the official schedule if you can read Japanese: https://bitsummit.org/10th/
Luckily, Gematsu has an English version available: https://www.gematsu.com/event/bitsummit-x-roads
Panels of note this year:
- 8/6 10:35 to 11:05 – Introduction to asobu, a Community that Supports Games to Go Global, with ElecHead as a Case Study – An introduction to asobu, a community that supports games for global expansion, with the developer of ElecHead discussing their own experience as a case study. Featuring Anne Ferrero (asobu manager) and Nama Takahashi (ElecHead developer). - ElecHead is one of the indie darlings of the past year and we have our own ST celebrating it
- 8/7 10:30 to 11:00 – RPG Time! The Legend of Wright – Featuring Tom Fujii (Deskworks director) and Fujikawa-Q (Weekly Famitsu editor). - Legend of Wright was recently featured in Nintendo's June Partner Showcase
- 8;7 12:25 to 13:55 – Special Interview with Raw Fury‘s Gordon Van Dyke by Layer-Q – Gordon Van Dyke talks about the development of the Kingdom series and more. Featuring Gordon Van Dyke (Raw Fury co-founder) and LayerQ (content creator). - I can't speak to the Kingdom series, but Raw Fury is one of the indie publishers in the West I always keep an eye on.
How about a map?Here you go: https://bitsummit.org/ja/venue_map/ This is a bit more English friendly and you can click on most exhibitors for a page with a trailer for what they’re showing if you’re interested
So where can I find coverage?Unfortunately, BitSummit tends to run under the radar for a lot of non-Japan centric websites. The 2020 show (BitSummit Gaiden) picked up a little more attention due to the online-only nature and dearth of gaming events that year. However, there was very little coverage of last year’s show by Western media largely due to the event not allowing foreign visitors due to the pandemic.
With 2022 being open again to everyone my hope is that we’ll see broader coverage again, but your best bet is going to be with sites like Siliconera and Gematsu that specialize in the Japanese side of the industry
What can we expect this year?Honestly I have no clue! That’s kinda the neat thing I think about this show, there’s a lot of unfamiliar name so it’s a complete mystery what gets talked about during the show. Much like the Indie Megabooth that used to make the convention circuit.
That said, typically Inti Creates announces their next game at BitSummit and they literally just released Azure Striker Gunvolt 3 so there’s a good chance there will be some exciting news if you’re a fan of their games.
Q&AQ: Can you tell me some history about the show?
Sure! BitSummit was started in 2012 by Dylan Cuthbert (yes, that Dylan Cuthbert) and some friends. The first show only had 200 attendees, but it’s grown significantly since then with 11,000 attendees in 2018 (which was the last show I could find attendance numbers on).
Q: What’s with the Darth Vader looking guy with a Famicom on his head?
That would appear to be Prof. Sakamoto, an 8-bit chiptune artist from Japan who is the opening act for this year's show.
You can learn more about them on their website https://www.p.sk-mt.com/
Or watch this episode from Archipel’s old Toco Toco show:
Q: Got any links to coverage from past shows?
I think the best, or at least most by volume, coverage I’ve seen in the past was from USGamer (RIP) which was largely driven by Kat Bailey from 2015 - 2019 and was what initially put the show on my radar. You can find a fairly complete archive of their coverage with these two links:
In particular, I highly recommend their primer on the show from their 2016 coverage: https://www.usgamer.net/articles/a-brief-guide-to-bitsummit-japans-indie-expo
PCGamer covered the show in 2019 which makes sense with PC being the platform of choice for indie developers, and hopefully they’ll be back this year with the show open again to the rest of the world: https://www.pcgamer.com/were-at-japans-indie-festival-bitsummit/
Eurogamer has been known to throw out a piece or two about the show but not anything specific coverage-wise:
And lastly, here’s Rob Fahey over at GI.biz reflecting on the 2016 show: