This is a blog post to explain my view on the areas that will see a tremendous demand for engineers in Tokyo soon.
1) Virtual realities
It seems that the social games field is dying in Japan. Recruiting engineers in social games has become very tough.
Several possible reasons for that:
- tighter budget
- more competition among companies to get talented engineers
- no real roadmap for building the next generation games
It seems that there is a trend to build native smartphone games, using cocos2d or unity3d or similar tools. So there is at least a shift from console games to smartphone games.
The reasons causing that shift are the fact that smartphones can now render games that can rival the quality of consoles and the actual cost of the games on smartphones: it is cheaper to download a game from iTunes than buying a console game.
But such smartphone games do not bring new innovation compared to consoles. The realistic rendering of the game itself is not superior than console games.
So that brings us to the next generation of games with Oculus Rift. This will be actually the next trend in the games industry, I believe: games that bring an immersive experience to players.
Therefore, I believe we will see a shift from smartphone games to immersive games soon. And this will extend to virtual realities, not necessarily linked to entertainment, but also to shopping or education….or any other relevant fields.
The consequence of that is that there will be a need for engineers that can deal with 3d graphics, accelerometer, sensors, run-time programming etc, in short any technology involved by such immersive reality.
The next field that will see a lot of demand for engineers is the payment industry starting with mobile payment.
We can see that already through companies dealing with credit card payment on mobile on the one hand and companies that enable payment with 0-fee on the other hand.
Besides, Facebook has recently applied for an e-payment system license in Ireland, that would enable users to directly pay with Facebook dollars (we can imagine so) inside the Facebook ecosystem.
At the same time, it seems that Apple will be releasing soon a payment system bypassing credit card companies within iTunes.
Furthermore, Square has recently accepted payment via bitcoins for their e-commerce service (Square Market).
That brings us to crypto-currencies. It is no secret that bitcoins have had a lot of media exposure recently with its astronomical rise in 2013. It has since that lost more than 50% of its value but it is very resilient.
Other crypto-currencies have gained exposure too, such as litecoins and peercoins, to name just a few.
The VC community of SV has started invested a lot into bitcoins and crypto-currencies related businesses, funding new exchanges and payment processors.
In Japan, after the Gox debacle, no solid successor for the defunct exchange has shown up yet but it is a question of time.
It seems that some famous American exchanges are planning to come to Japan soon.
It seems also that some Chinese exchanges have already created their Japanese subsidiaries.
Besides, OKCoin, the biggest crypto-currency exchange (bitcoin and litecoin) in terms of trade volume in the world, seems to be interested in a plan that would rehabilitate MtGox.
In that scenario, OKCoin would put 1m USD out of its own pocket to become a co-owner of the prospective new exchange.
Furthermore, the crypto-currencies field is slowly getting traction in Japan. That would certainly accelerate over the coming months, I believe.
The consequence of that is that I predict that there will be a tremendous demand for software engineers and Web developers knowledgeable in crypto-currencies and cryptography, capable of implementing secure infrastructures and rapid interfaces for user-friendly exchanges and payment processors.
To conclude, virtual realities combined with crypto-currencies would provide consumers with a totally new realm of experiences.
For example, we could see the creation of new services in which users would do their shopping at a virtual store (instead of a static e-commerce web page involving “links” and “clicks”) and pay on the spot, immediately, without using a credit card, via crypto-currencies, with no possible charge-back for the seller.
This would be a totally new field where innovation would flourish, further increasing the need for innovative engineers in the world, including Japan.