Inafune says Japanese industry has "gotten worse"

Mega Man creator Keiji Inafune says it's a "shame" that game industry in island nation has fallen further, believes Kickstarter is one "fantastic" option to revive the market.

The Japanese game industry has "gotten worse," according to Mega Man creator and former Capcom director Keiji Inafune. Speaking with GameSpot today at PAX Prime, the outspoken critic of the Japanese game scene lamented the state of the industry, but said developers have options to turn things around.

"Ultimately, it's probably gotten worse than when I was talking about it before. And that's a shame," Inafune said through a translator. "But there are options out there. And there are many options that Japanese independent developers can pursue to gain more control, to own their own IP, et cetera."

"And Kickstarter is one of those fantastic options,” he added. "And so, one of the reasons why I was interested in doing this Kickstarter wasn't just because potentially being able to connect with the fans, but also potentially being able to show other Japanese independent developers that there is a way, that there are options."

Yesterday, Inafune announced a Kickstarter campaign for Mighty No. 9, an all-new classic-inspired side-scrolling game. The project has drawn strong initial interest, with more than $650,000 pledged of its $900,000 goal. Funding closes on October 1.

Though the Japanese industry has fallen in Inafune's eyes, he remains of the belief that there are "still lots of great solutions" to bounce back. If developers have "great content" they will be able to get consumers to "stand up and listen and support it" to help improve the Japanese industry, he said.

Check back later this week for more from GameSpot’s conversation with Inafune.

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Discussion

788 comments
loopy_101
loopy_101

I think From Software, Grasshopper Manufacture, Platinum Games, Arc System Works, Cave, Dimps, Eighting, Monolith Soft, CyberConnect2, Game Arts and Tri-Ace would all disagree with you Mr. Inafune.

MadGamer132
MadGamer132

kickstarter? how many success stories did it made? huh?

Valkyrslayer
Valkyrslayer

The western developers milk popular game concepts to death. The western Industry has become like Hollywood. So I dont see how that is better then the japanese Industry.

xMat7x
xMat7x

Canada and USA make the best games nowadays. My top games this year so far are The Last of Us, BioShock : Infinite and Splinter Cell : Blacklist. Then you have games like Watch Dogs, Assassin's Creed IV, Batman : Arkham Origins (Canadian made) coming out that I'm most interested in.


Japanese still make good games (Dark Souls), but they just aren't as good or consistent as the west.

crunchb3rry
crunchb3rry

It's bad when more and more industry legends are having to use Kickstarter because publishers won't give them the free reign and necessary budget to make games like they used to back when they became legends because they had those two things at their disposal.

FELOFLOW
FELOFLOW

i love japan, when i was a kid i like capcom like no other game dev, i still like konami, and more deep HIDEO KOJIMA because thanks to him i like more vide games that movies, squarsoft was epic, but now i feel that i have to grab some cod or bf games because USA dev dont make what japan company capcom do and it should get R.I.P

Aristowi
Aristowi

For all of you saying the industry is dead let me say it's not, in fact it's more alive than ever. The problem is that it has gotten as big as commercial music and films, as a result most of the games out there are made with money in mind and many times those games are really bad. Think about music. All the music you hear on the radio, advertised on TV and the internet is simple comercial pop music. The industry is not dead, it's just that the good and creative games are being overwhelmed by giant corporations.

idosofacility
idosofacility

the problem is allways that the "midle man" is taking all the money. Publishers want all the money and no risk.. and they are not the ones making the content.. its like the distribution business in the movie market.With the digital age is time for the Developers to ditch publishers all the way and publish themselves.. launch digitally anyway try to cut out what is not vital and is eating up the industry... consumers don´t get the games they want, developers don´t do the games they want and are not well paid.. All because publishers just wana publish sure hits... F kin war themed FPSs and the likes. 

wexorian
wexorian

And how West is better? Yearly Cod and AC milk with no innovation and 5-10 good game from 60 last 2 year. 

vshingles
vshingles

year should make def jame  fighting  in your crew gangland do a spare move to and him you fighting any city old school vs  new school to kick  somebody ass

Poodger
Poodger

It is true though. The quality of Western games is not the issue ion question here people. It is true that Japanese made games are losing their edge recently though.

nurnberg
nurnberg

Not too long ago, loser developers who could not make a successful game all turned to "mobile" games, because that was the "future of gaming".  But as mobile gaming flopped even worse than traditional gaming, now the new fad for loser developers is Kickstarter.  All loser developers are jumping on the Kickstarter bandwagon.  I guess it is the "future".  But this will flop as well.

BLaverock
BLaverock

Kickstarter is amazing. I'm glad it's opened up a bright new door for independent developers and other creative innovators who otherwise wouldn't be able to produce their work!

jhpeter
jhpeter

I love Kickstarter, the industry is dead.

Buck_Swaggler
Buck_Swaggler

I just recently played FF5 again and loved it.  I had forgotten just how awesome Square games were on SNES.

Bayonetta2013
Bayonetta2013

Loved FFXIII, XIII-2, Type-0, XIV:ARR (so far anyway), and I'm sure I'll love FFXV an LR. Getting tired of hearing people say the JP gaming industry is going down. I suppose the West's games are just oh-glorious, then? Call of Duty 1,000, Skyrim, Grand Theft Auto? No thanks.

excludedkratos
excludedkratos

the mega man franchise should be handed over too valve. i think their the perfect game developers for the job.

Zeeksie
Zeeksie

Inafune-san's love for the Western culture and Western game development has clouded his judgement.

csward
csward

Still waiting for Shenmue 3, a good 3D Castlevania, a good FPS Contra (like gears of war), Mega Man Legends 3, a true sequel to Mario 64, a modernized Dragon Warrior/Quest, Final Fantasy Tactics 2 (No portable kidde crap please), ect. ect.

excludedkratos
excludedkratos

no shit! i'm still piss about ninja gaiden 3, and razors edge did it no justice. team ninja is a fucking joke without itagkie.

The-Neon-Seal
The-Neon-Seal

Who would have thought in 97 that Canada would be the place for games less thant two decades later?

Morrywinn
Morrywinn

@loopy_101 I actually think they would agree with him, as they are the exceptions, not the rule, and I'm sure that they are annoyed by the lack of risk other Japanese companies take as well. That said, the West isn't much better off. 

Hurvl
Hurvl

@MadGamer132 At least Mr Inafune will have fun with all the money his kickstarter is bringing in. It's currently at almost 1,3 million dollars and there are 28 days to go. 

Many hyped kickstarter games are coming in a year or so, but already Shadowrun Returns has come out and received good reviews.

Arlandro
Arlandro

When they talk about games they're talking about the sales.  Japan hasn't been able to sell that many games in the west.  And developers have fallen behind in some ways.  For instance, it took Japan a LONG time to adapt the concept of camera control in some games.  When Devil May Cry 4 came out and we STILL had to deal with fixed cameras that was a bit much.  Some developers got really great with what they did.  Nintendo was always pushing the bar, for instance.  But the JRPG... the way it's gone downhill is something I wish never happened.  By that I mean that the genre itself has evolved very little in the past 30 years.  It's been kind of sad.  When I played Lost Odyssey and the turn based combat was what it was... it felt very dated.  It was "traditional" (and Japanese developers love tradition) but also very dated.  That's not to say Japan has not been very creative.  Games like The Last Story or Xenoblade Chronicles are saviors of the JRPG genre.  Final Fantasy XII may not have been popular, but the concepts were unique.  Japan can still turn out something creative and "non-traditional," when they want too.

Although... you say that western developers milk popular game concepts to death.  And you say this as though Japanese developers have not done the same thing... when they've been just as guilty (sometimes more guilty) than western developers.  Allow me to explain:

Japan, like western developers, really like to keep running with an idea when it is successful.  And they will also mimic it to death in other games (did you notice how many platformers tried to be Super Mario Bros?  Or how many games tried to be Wii Sports for a time?).  But Japan also suffers quite heavily from sequelitis just as bad as western developers.  How many Mega Man games did we get.  Last I checked it was over 100.  How  Final Fantasy games did we get?  Castlevania, Mario, Zelda...  And this is before we include any spinoffs in some of them.  Dragon Quest, Seiken Densetsu, Pokemon, Metal Gear Solid, Digimon, Macross games (at least in Japan)... DYNASTY FREAKING WARRIORS!, Kingdom Hearts,  Street Fighter, Resident Evil, Soul Calibur, Wild Arms, Suikoden (damn near any JRPG), The "Tales of..." series... it's not like the Japanese industry isn't milking.  And we haven't even talked about these games getting reissues (some of which don't make it over seas).  People can talk all day about HD remakes but this is very tame compared to how Nintendo, Square-Enix and Capcom have subjected us to the same game over and over and over again (almost guaranteed once a gaming generation now).  How many remakes or ports of the first Final Fantasy do we need, really?  Counting the NES release, the dual pack with the second one later on (Japan only), The Wonderswan (also only in Japan), Mobile phones (again... Japan only... at least I think but I could be wrong on this one) the Playstation, the GBA, and the PSP.  And I still haven't named them all (because some are only in Japan).  Or how about the copious amount of times Nintendo has released the original Super Mario Bros?  The NES, a second NES release with Duck Hunt, Super Mario All-Stars, Super Mario Bros. Deluxe, The Classic NES series, the virtual console on Wii... the virtual console on Wii U, the virtual console on 3DS, the reissue of All Stars on the Wii, the hack to unlock it in Animal Crossing.  And how many times within the past decade has Nintendo put Ocarina of Time out on the shelves again?  We have the Master Quest, and then we have the Zelda Collection and then we've got the 3DS version.  Don't forget the virtual console.  And don't even get me started on how many times I swallowed Final Fantasy IV from 2001 to 2010 or so.  The GBA and DS remake came out less than a year apart.  And then a PSP remake followed not long after.  That isn't including the two versions released in Japan initially or the absurd number of remakes it has gotten in Japan that never made it stateside!  And then Final Fantasy IV also got "The After Years."  Don't forget Final Fantasy VI.  Super Nintendo, Playstation and GBA.  Though spread out more apart, Square seems to be intent on making you remember these games... and they keep releasing them for a new generation.

It isn't just Nintendo and Square-Enix either that constantly repackage and reissue games.  How many times did CAPCOM release Street Fighter II?  That game had pretty much it's own franchise.  They're doing the same thing with Street Fighter IV right now.  How many times did Capcom push Resident Evil onto us?  The original, the director's cut, the Gamecube remake, the DS remake and even a port to the Wii.  Or how about Resident Evil 4?  Gamecube... then a PS2 port.  Then a PC port, then a Wii port, then an HD remake (and fans even demanding a 3DS remake).  Namco is pretty notorious too.  The "Tales of..." series has so many sequels and spinoffs in Japan it's a wonder how it's only the third biggest selling JRPG franchise in that country.  Tales of Phantasia got a Super Famicom release, a Playstation release, a Playstation Portable release and a Gameboy Advance and that's just what we know about.  Tales of Destiny is almost worst.  Getting a PSX release, a Playstation 2 remake, a PSP remake and then a director's cut put on PS2 and the PSP. 

My point is that you're NOT WRONG about the Western Industry because Good God do they ever do this to a disturbing degree... but the idea that the Japanese industry hasn't done this exact same thing is just madness.  The idea they can be excused from it is just madness.  The idea that japanese developers don't share this guilt is madness.  They repeat popular concepts all the time.  And they've been doing this for a really really long time.  And many of their franchises have a very specific template that they don't often let their games deviate from.  You already knew what you were going to have to do in the next Zelda years before it came out.  Even though Super Mario Galaxy had some of the most creative levels ever it still followed the formula established by Super Mario 64 ten years prior.  Why, even Mario 3D Land is just a hybrid of Super Mario Bros. 3 with some Super Mario Galaxy thrown in there.  Nothing in that game is new.  Mario Kart has survived making the same game over and over again.  Final Fantasy saw no need to change much of its formula AT ALL until the tenth installment and even then it didn't stray too far.  And Mega Man almost NEVER changes its formula.  Ever.  Even Inafune's kickstarter is pretty much just about making another Mega Man game.  It's just not being called Mega Man.

You're not wrong about western developers I'm only trying to demonstrate that this is done all over the place and that this idea of milking is not new to the industry. 

And who exactly do you think these Western Developers learned to do that from?  Japan.  Because they were already doing this... and it was working out great for them. 

Stardust7
Stardust7

@xMat7x Actually im very bored of all these batmans ,assassins creeds ,bioshocks and all these boring sandbox games .....But new generation players seems to enjoy these bad stuff...in my opnion new generation players and casual players are the true killers of game industry nowdays.

Stardust7
Stardust7

@xMat7x I disagree .Japanese industry is not like before ,but some developers are still making good games...There are 5 japanese games or even more in my top games of this generation... Of the games that you mentioned, the only really good game in my opinion is The Last of us.

Hurvl
Hurvl

@AristowiI have no problem finding great games to play, quite the opposite, but I generally agree with you. The industry is too big for its own good. It has also moved so fast, that people who're under 30 can get nostalgic about the good ol' days of gaming. That's quite bizarre when you think about it, because I feel like people under 30 are too young to get nostalgic and say things like "back in my days...". We're half the age of the old people complaining about the music/movies nowadays. 

Music from e.g. The Witcher 1 is 10 times better than most of the things modern artists cram out. I hardly ever listen to new music, I have lots of great computer game music I can listen to.

PlasmaBeam44
PlasmaBeam44

@wexorian "AC milk with no innovation"

I'm really sick of seeing people say this. Honestly, go AC by AC to see the massive amount of BRAND NEW content they bring to each yearly release. 

monstachruck
monstachruck

@wexorian apparently you guys don't play many PC games- there's still ton of innovation in the West from both large PC developers and indie folks.

Fia1
Fia1

@wexorian i have no idea in what world inafune lives if he hasn't seen the west industry is as bad or worse than the eastern

gamespotgunners
gamespotgunners

@Poodger I wouldn't say its any worse than last time he said this though, yeah there has been some crap like Only the bravest but I think FFXV, KH3, Deep Down all look like very promising AAA Japanese developed titles and that's not to mention MGSV. I think going into Next Gen there is a lot of hope for the Japanese industry (though to be fair I've always loved Japan if only for some of the quality RPG games they put out) these games look to be hallmarks of that industry. Assuming Atlus is picked up by a respectable company games like P5 could be fantastic and in my opinion Catherine was a very innovative and promising title, it may not have been in house at Atlas but nevertheless it was under their guidance. I like the Japanese scene and I hope TGS can show what strength they still have in the industry.

PlasmaBeam44
PlasmaBeam44

@Bayonetta2013  It's fine that you like those games, but it doesn't make them good and it doesn't make his opinions any less true.

excludedkratos
excludedkratos

@csward i strongly believe shenmue should be handed over too rockstars, its the only way i'll be excited about the series again. japanese game developers aren't doing shit with it & even if the were it wouldnt be all that great.

xMat7x
xMat7x

@The-Neon-Seal Yeah, I am impressed with the Canadian made games as of late (Mass Effect, Assassin's Creed, Far Cry 3, Dragon Age, Fez, etc) You also have Watch Dogs and a new IP from BioWare coming out as well. 

 Japanese and Americans were always making majority of games that came out, glad to see Canada rise as a top developer. 

Arlandro
Arlandro

And sometimes these milking concepts in Japan are done in other ways.  Sometimes game franchises get an anime to accompany them.  The Tales of series has an anime for its more popular games.  Some games get Manga or other spinoffs.  Disgaea gave the prinnies their own game.  The prinnies, for heaven's sake!  Yeah, this happens a lot in Japan.  And the idea that they don't sometimes go overboard to a huge degree or that they themselves have not become like Hollywood in that regard is really annoying when you think about it.  Japan doesn't just milk the cow sometimes.  Sometimes they keep squeezing long after the cow is dead. 

xMat7x
xMat7x

@Stardust7 @xMat7x I'm not a new generation player and I enjoy those games still. I've been playing games since the 90's. 

I loved Arkham City, Assassin's Creed may not be as good as it was back in AC II, but I still enjoy their games. These games are still good in my opinion. And majority of people would agree.

xMat7x
xMat7x

@Stardust7 I know Japanese are making good games now, but they're just not as good as in the 90's. I played and enjoyed Japanese games in the 90's and early 2000's more, now I see myself enjoying western games more.

Those games I mentioned were just for THIS year. Not the generation. If you're talking the generation, Mass Effect 2, Portal 2, Deus Ex : Human Revolution, Red Dead Redemption, Fallout 3 and New Vegas come to mind. All Canadian and American made. 

xMat7x
xMat7x

@NandoSupes Yeah, you're right. Also, Quantic Dream, Rockstar North, Arkane Studios and Rocksteady Studios. But that's a whole continent. I was just talking specific countries.

keech
keech

@Bellum_Sacrum @xMat7x  

That's a cop out if there ever was one.  Especially since all you have to do is point a big finger at Nintendo.

I wish the problem were that simple.  It has much more to do with the Japanese gaming industries habit of blatantly ignoring consumer feedback and criticism.  As well as a general inability to adapt and comprehend new methods and trends.

By the time the JP companies admitted they had a problem, they were in a giant hole.  You see companies like Square-Enix and Capcom desperately trying to catch up.  What do we get from it?  We get Capcom handing over It's games to 3rd rate western developers, and Square releasing games like Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy: All the Bravest.

Bayonetta2013
Bayonetta2013

@PlasmaBeam44 @Bayonetta2013 Like Hurvl kind of said, I'm not arguing against his opinion. Now, I am tired of hearing it, but whether you like the games I do or not doesn't make them good or bad. Just a matter of opinion.

Hurvl
Hurvl

@PlasmaBeam44 @Bayonetta2013 Doesn't make them good? So who decides what is good? It's all just opinions anyway. Those games are good to Bayonetta2013 and not to you, that's all we can say about how good they are.

PeejayYeh
PeejayYeh

@Arlandro Well said. At least Western devs develop the game after they establish its core, adding more features usable and innovative, while keeping the old ones on the shelve for future usage.

Concepts in the IT industry go on by using key core concepts on software development already used by different softwares but in different approaches. I consider games as part of IT, so it will work because that is how IT goes in real life.