Pride clouds vision for Japanese devs, says Inafune

Mega Man, Dead Rising designer Keiji Inafune claims pride keeping Japanese outfits from learning from Western studios.

Mega Man and Dead Rising designer Keiji Inafune has opened up on the state of the Japanese game industry. Speaking to IGN, the former Capcom developer said Japanese studios are beginning to become aware of the "problem," but still have a ways to go.

"I hope Japanese game developers are breaking through the stagnation," Inafune said. "However, the reality isn't as good as I want it to be. I see they’re starting to be aware of the problem and that they have to do something. They know they have to learn more from Western games and create games that'll sell more in the western market. However, they don’t know what to do or how to do it."

One of the main reasons Japanese developers are coming up short, Inafune argued, is due to pride.

"Even worse, their pride gets in the way, preventing them from learning from overseas developers. As a result, they end up staying in the domestic market rather than going global," he said.

Inafune said he appreciates the Western media's interest in and concern about the health of the Japanese game industry. He noted that continuing to ask "Is Japan's game industry OK?" helps hammer home the point that something may be amiss.

"So we much appreciate the fact that the world is concerned, however, [Japanese developers] still don’t really get it," he said. "Some developers are saying [the] Japanese game industry is still doing fine, but that's wishful thinking. Words are not enough, we must act and prove it. Unless at least a few titles from Japan make it to the top 10 games of the year worldwide, we won’t prove it."

Inafune has long been vocal about the state of Japanese game development. He left Capcom in 2010 and founded new companies Intercept and Comcept the next year. His latest game is PlayStation Vita title Soul Sacrifice, which launches April 30.

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413 comments
louie_cloud
louie_cloud

look at capcom's resident evil they want it to become call of duty.

Kiyosuyo
Kiyosuyo

I'm perfectly fine with their style of game and development. The only problem is I'd like to fucking play them some day.

genjuroT
genjuroT

Someone needs to make Gihren's Greed into a next gen game. Just saying. I also think that all the wrong games come to the U.S. The bad ones come here, and all the good ones stay over there. Example- I would have preferred G generation Spirits come out here instead of getting that first dynasty warriors gundam bullcrap. That was a HUGE mistake in my opinion. My friends and I had to grow up getting emulators and modding our ps2s just to play these great Japanese games. We use to hotseat on a snes emulator playing SD Gundam G Next.

starfox15
starfox15

Pride clouding Japanese judgement... That sure is a rare thing isn't it?  In all fairness however, the US market is the same, the developers just do a better job catering to their market than the Japanese market.  I have faith in developers providing new and interesting games and concepts to keep me going for quite a while.  One of the key areas I see this expanding in is the now-powerful indie market.  Games that I didn't think I would ever see are now beginning to become more commonplace.  The bigger devs and publishers are starting to notice and take notes.  With all of this competition from not just each individual market, but also from different country and developer creates a breeding ground for new and innovative games and ideas.  It's a great time to be a gamer right now, and anybody that disagrees really isn't looking hard enough at the offerings on display right now. 

Ledah
Ledah

This is funny because the Western Industry makes a lot of bad games too, just for the sake of money. It is rare to find a truly good game in the western industry nowadays, some of this "appeal everyone" games aren't cutting on sales and most of them are corridor shooters,  I'm sure there's a lot of bad games in the Japanese Industry also, and they do get their rare miracle like the western, Dark Souls for example, of course it is not fair to make an actual judgment when 90% of all Japanese games never get localized for English speaking countries.

POWAHOG
POWAHOG

Dark Souls did everything right

Kuari999
Kuari999

Well I can think of two things the Japanese market can do...  actually GET some of the better games over here and improve localization.  Jump Ultimate Stars for example.  Its as good as Smash Bros and its an anime game, yet never was brought over to the US.  As for localization...  there are some games that are brought over with terrible voice acting among other issues that should be amazing games, but are unbearable as a result.  Pride might be an issue, but the isolationism is just as bad if not worse.

Skyrim25
Skyrim25

The problem with japan is that the games that they make games/anime that us western people hate, such as having every...single...detail explained to us. Its like EVERY single japan character has an inner dailouge and EVERY SINGLE villian...HAS TO...tell the hero how and why HE is more powerfull and will not be stopped by the hero. 

Its like they cant have a single scene in any game or anime that is without words. They cant figure anything out without some kind of inner dailogue from the charactor. Some of the most powerfull scenes in movies/games have been WITHOUT any wrods and they are western ones.

Isamu_36
Isamu_36

The core of the issue is this: Japan used to feed arcade and console games to itself and the rest of the world meanwhile the West only fed point-and-click tittles for PCs. One day, Microsoft decided to launch its own Western-friendly-designed console, Western developers gathered to develop for it and the void that the Japanese game industry used to fill became an industry in itself where Japan hardly had any space left.

The Western game industry expanded and cannibalized the Japanese presence in Europe, Oceania and America [the continent].

The Japanese game industry used to fed the West whatever they wanted because the West did not have anywhere else to resort for games but now the West can sustain its gaming needs for itself and its gamers prefer its tittles over the Japanese for logical and cultural reasons.


The cowboys and blue-blood princes from the West crushed the samurai and they can't accept it because of cultural pride.

Three continents are a much bigger market than one island country and they are losing all four because the Western game industry is very slowly crawling into the Japanese market year by year.


Veeery slooowly.

GrgSpunk
GrgSpunk

Japanese developers are too "prideful" to make games that sell in the west? Seriously? Is this for real?

How the hell are we to judge whether Japan's market is suffering from "stagnation" or "low quality" if 99% of Japanese titles never even make it here? The problem with Japanese developers is not that they don't make games that cater to westerners, it's that they don't bother to bring their games over to the west. PERIOD. On the off-chance that they do, they never market their titles to make them known more, and they frequently allow the content of the games to be altered over here to make them suit the western audiences "tastes" to where they aren't distinguishable from western titles. 

You call this "pride"? What a crock full of shit.

If they really did have some pride in what they do, they'd wouldn't be afraid to bring every single one of their games over with no alterations or censorship in their international localizations, regardless of whether the content appeals to a western audience. If they had some pride in their work, the Japanese companies would make every conceivable effort to change the western audiences' tastes to be more like theirs, NOT THE OTHER GODDAMNED WAY AROUND. 

They definitely should be more efficient about making games in general, but they need to focus on what they're good at doing and sell it to the world exactly as they do in Japan. After all, what's the point of having a Japanese developer release something here if all they do is copy something that US/European companies have years of doing without introducing something unique?

Look not to what Capcom's been doing--Look to Konami instead. In TGS 2010, when the developers of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance were asked about what they thought about Japanese companies releasing games to an international audience, they said while it is beneficial to do so, Japanese developers shouldn't just copy what western companies can do--They have to do what they're good at doing and make something that only a Japanese developer can make and can't be easily be replicated by western developers:

http://www.gamespot.com/metal-gear-rising-revengeance/videos/metal-gear-solid-rising-tgs-2010-interview-6276320/ 

Skip over to 3:44 and watch until the end. THIS is the kind of pride that every Japanese developer should have.

jsmoke03
jsmoke03

japanese gaming is only healthy when it comes to handheld

Enforcer246
Enforcer246

I hope they never learn from Western Studios. Keep making original, and weird, but awesome games Japan.

DAOWAce
DAOWAce

I'm fine with most aspects of Japanese game development, but.. their decisions on what platforms to release games on is by far the worst part about them.

Capcom and their Monster Hunter IP is perhaps the biggest example I can give of complete idiocy.  Hardcore series has been released mostly on casual platforms instead of something hardcore like the PC or even the 360/PS3.  It's mindboggling.


And on PC; Japan focuses on consoles instead of PC due to how proliferated consoles are there over PCs.  Compared to western markets (NA/EU), PCs are FAR more prevalent and have so much more horsepower than consoles which would allow them to create incredible games.. but they just don't bother with the platform.   It took the Dark Souls petition to wake up FROM SOFT; what's it going to take for the rest?

Eric8315
Eric8315

When are dumb, fat Americans going to start making games that appeal to other cultures as well?  Funny that it's always everyone having to make games for Americans, but not the other way around.  The next Call of Duty fuckfest better be a metroidvania, or American devs are going to have to start "soul searching" and figure out what's wrong with them.  

GTA5 better not be as stupid as it normally is also.  It better have Zelda-esque action adventure gameplay, otherwise GTA will continue to be shit, and its developers will have to start "soul searching" in order to figure out what's wrong with them, and how they can make their games better so as to not only appeal to American idiots.

golden_ashen
golden_ashen

Hm, why do people think western means Americanized, hellllloooooo, we Europeans DO exist and we do contribute to the games industry on a massive scale

dussan2
dussan2

See, I call BS with this.  Dark Souls prime example of japanese gaming done right.  It swhen they try to emulate the US games that they fail miserably.  They are getting their asses smoked by Western devs is the r community involvment.

Sqauare: How long have we asked for Final Fantasy 7 for this gen consoles?  It is not that freakin hard.  FF13 graphics, use the SAME battle system and release with voices.  ANd you win.   

Namco:  WTF is wrong with you and why on god's geen earth did you think making a Battlefield wannabe Ace Combat would be fun?  Remember Ace Combat 3, 4, and 5?  Do that but longer with better graphics.  Rinse and repeat assoles.  Where is the Tenchu update? 

Konami: Dont' get me started.

Capcom: Total hit or miss.  Good idea with the update in RE4, but seriously, either learn how code a real 3rd prson shooter engine or get someone else to do it for you. 

Tecmo: You murdered Ninja Gaiden. 

I could go on and on. 

Philly04
Philly04

Every Devloper should hold their unique perspective of what their game should be. The market is what's really holding their creative flow back and also making anticipated titles to become stale on release, but it is also what pushes games out faster for the most part.  

Selfpowered
Selfpowered

Funny, a Japanese Dev wanting to invigorate their games by using western ideas. Right at the time when western games are stagnating to the point of crisis, and Japanese games are becoming more popular in the west.

Rimsa_Laded
Rimsa_Laded

That's crazy.

Everyone making games for americans is the worst fucking idea EVER

Crossel777
Crossel777

Oh and your westernization of the DMC franchise also didn't work.   DmC was an amazing resounding SALES FLOP.  DMC4 sold far better. LOL.  Come to think of it, what was the last Capcom game that did sell well?   They've been pretty fail lately.

JRLennis
JRLennis

Finally.  Someone in Japan understands what's gone wrong with their industry.  Inafune couldn't have laid it out any plainer.

I think the problem is inherently cultural.  Japanese don't like admitting fault when they have been in a dominant position for so long.  That would be an enormous loss of face for them, and saving face matters greatly to Japanese.  In their minds it is better to ignore the truth and just pretend nothing is wrong than own up to their decline.  It will be very difficult to break themselves out of this cycle.

bongsyas_23
bongsyas_23

just give us Elder Scrolls 6 please..oops, wrong forum

fierro316
fierro316

Japan still has the talent but not the huge budgets to create gaming studios that resembles an assembly plant like EA or Ubisoft.

Coco_pierrot
Coco_pierrot

I'm sad that the gaming market will be americanized like the movie world ... lot's of gun everywhere, no story, lot's of blood and explosion ... Everything that will try to be different will be crush by the American culture.

So we will see a FPS mario game ... a sand box Final Fantasy and a RTS Pokémon game ...

So let's the end of the creativity take what is left of this industry

PlatinumPaladin
PlatinumPaladin

But don't the Japanese developers do pretty well for themselves in Japan? (Not a rhetorical question.)

Overall, there may be more gamers in the whole of the west than in Japan, but does that mean the Japanese industry should change in order to appeal to us? So what if the best selling game from Japan is 11th in the charts? So long as it's not losing the developers money, let them get on with it.

This all strikes me as capitalists looking down their noses at the Eastern industry for being traditional.

WCK619
WCK619

giant lips giant lips giant lips

immanuel_aj
immanuel_aj

I know that a lot of people here disagree with him because there are some new Japanese games out there that are good.  But really, how many games in the last 3-4 years form SquareEnix (not counting their western studios), Namco and Konami have you been excited about?  (Capcom... seems to have adapted/is adapting)

I feel that the smaller (relatively, they're still quite big) Jap developers like Platinum Games, Atlus and Level 5 have doing a better job than the bigger names, though.  Moving on, it's not going to be easy to develop a game that is well received by Japanese/Asian and Western audiences (though it's possible), and that's the challenge they'll have to aspire to accomplish.

PETERAKO
PETERAKO

that sort of explains ace combat 3.

unbentonslaught
unbentonslaught

@Skyrim25 The problems your listing are more anime/manga related, and less game related. I feel that most western games are devoid of meaningful stories now compared to Japan's games. I actually can't think of anything outside of the shonen genre that has the problem you're talking about.

galvenize2
galvenize2

@GrgSpunk

Apr 12, 2013

"Japanese developers are too "prideful" to make games that sell in the west? Seriously? Is this for real?"

So many people missunderstanding what was said. The Japanese are too prideful to TAKE ideas from western games to use in their own. Nothing makes them more happy than see their local game make it worldwide.


BlackBaldwin
BlackBaldwin

@GrgSpunk 

I agree with pretty much everything you said.  Rule of thumb is send ur stuff over and we probably buy it but we can't do it if its never sent across the ocean.

godzillavskong
godzillavskong

That's fine but it's getting fewer and and fewer vs quality over quantity for them. Yes they still have their hits and great games here or there, but not near the amount of success, and accolades that their western counterparts are getting.

Articuno76
Articuno76

@B00GIEL0VE There is also the pride of not recognising or not wanting to admit that you've been bested in many respects.  Japanese developers don't need to necessarily beat western developers at their own game (in fact that is likely to be counter productive) but they do have to realise where they have fallen behind and why.  Can you believe that many Japanese developers still don't use mo-cap or lip synching tech?  They do it all by hand, wasting a load of time and money (no wonder they can't keep up).  The Japanese haven't really grasped how to make the technology work for them to help them save time and money.

I'm totally not of the opinion that the Japanese should stay isolated and only make games for their own home market.  They don't need to make games that are 'westernised' either (history shows that the consumer can see through a fake and will pass it up: see all the failed western-y franchises this generation). 

What they do need to do is bring their unique flair into game design whilst getting up to speed on all the developments over the last 10 years.  Even if they can't compete in terms of technology I am sure there is a massive untapped AA market (the term being used to denote production values/tech rather than quality per se).

What they also need to do is build localisation-friendly tools into the game engines.  For instance tech that makes it easy to re-lip synch for different languages to avoid having to match 'flappies' (which results in sub-par dub performances).

Another big thing they should do is stop hiring anime-grade voice actors.  The quality of writing in Japanese games and the translation is only made worse by actors like that.  Japanese dubs of western developed games have been well translated and highly natural for years (even if the tempo of the conversations is somewhat English-y) so why don't they go the extra mile and get good voice work done when going out of Japanese?  Maybe those small developers can't afford it but SE certainly can afford to on their next big FF game.  There is really no excuse.

Some people are making the argument that a lot of Japanese content isn't translated.  This point doesn't really sit well with me as most of the Japanese output for home consoles is in fact localised.  The games that aren't localised often are doomed to sell badly or have proved themselves niche titles.  I can't think of many sleeper hits hiding behind the language barrier (and I speak the damn language).

FoxeoGames
FoxeoGames

@DAOWAce I have to say that it was nothing short of a minor miracle that From Software released a PC version of Dark Souls. They're doing the same for Dark Souls II. It's amazing, really. So few game developers in Japan will even consider the PC, much less put in the full effort and follow-up with a sequel. 

Articuno76
Articuno76

@Eric8315 Dude, Grand Theft Auto is made by a British studio, not an American one.  And US studios do make games that appeal to cultures outside of the US.  Take a look at the charts in any European nation if you want proof; loads of American games.

FoxeoGames
FoxeoGames

@Eric8315 Perhaps you've failed to realize that American-made games have widespread, worldwide appeal. Japanese games do as well, but they are diminishing while western developed games, particularly from the US, are thriving. 

You picked two series that despite your distaste for them are hugely popular throughout the world. I don't much care for CoD, and I hate the GTA series. Personal distaste is not a measure of worldwide appeal. 

galvenize2
galvenize2

@dussan2 

You do realize that Demon's souls and Dark Souls are successful because they were inspired by western games right?

parrot_of_adun
parrot_of_adun

@Rimsa_Laded That's clearly not what the guy's talking about. Also, "western" usually refers to a huge number of countries and cultures, the US is just one of them.

Philly04
Philly04

@fierro316 I'll take quality over quantity, content over rigid simplicity.

Articuno76
Articuno76

@PlatinumPaladin Look at this from a gamer perspective:  it would mean a further retreat from high quality home console games.  As someone who loves that stuff it saddens me to see those games disappear.

Last generation we had hits like Resident Evil 4, Onimusha Series, DMC, FFX, Ninja Gaiden etc;  

PlatinumPaladin
PlatinumPaladin

@PETERAKO I'd say Namco tried embracing a Western style of game with Assault Horizon and, ironically, I'd say it's the worst Ace Combat ever.

immanuel_aj
immanuel_aj

@PETERAKO Huh, what?  That was released back in 2000.  I think something weird happened there and the English versions had a massive amount of content cut out of it.

BlackBaldwin
BlackBaldwin

@FoxeoGames @Eric8315 

Isn't Electronic Arts a American owned company?  Could be wrong but hey I think they ship out quite a few games a year just saying..

dussan2
dussan2

@DaneGamer @dussan2 Im not saying rehashing or reusing is good thing, but it's not bad either. 

Call Of Duty.  the standard for multiplayer FPS experience these days.  COntrols as well. 

When I like something I want more of it.  Pretty up the graphics, add something fun you may have taken out of the last game but don't lose perspective for what made the game great to begin with.

I applaud a lot of these companies and designers for trying something new, but what Japan is doing is looking at numbers and thinking they need to bring the same experience to teh west.  Why are all the good JRPG's on the handheld consoles?