For many American gamers, their Japanese counterparts are a complete mystery. Train simulators? Dating games? Boong-Ga Boong-Ga? Those idiosyncrasies aside, it turns out Japanese and American gamers have plenty in common. Famitsu recently asked Japanese gamers about next-generation consoles and their general tastes in games, and many of the results seem basically in line with what one might expect from American gamers.
For instance, Famitsu found that the biggest point of interest for most Japanese gamers at the moment is the coming generation of consoles. A sizable 66.3 percent said that next gen was the hottest topic in gaming, far and away the most popular answer. The industry's recent spate of mergers and general restructuring came in a distant second, with 7.6 percent of the responses, and handheld game machines was the hottest topic for 6 percent of the survey takers. Somewhat surprisingly, censorship, an issue brought up in the wake of several Japanese prefectures restricting sales of violent games, was of interest to only 2.6 percent of the gamers polled.
And while publishers keep churning out sequels, it seems that Japanese gamers are getting fed up. When asked what they think is the biggest challenge facing the current gaming market, 22.6 percent said that games are stuck in a rut, with too many similar products and sequels coming out. Another 10.9 cited the high price of games as a problem with the industry, while 9.4 percent looked at the bigger picture and gave the nod to rising development costs, something that plays in to the abundance of reliably profitable sequels, as well as to the increasing cost to the consumer.
When asked what games they've enjoyed the most in their years of experience, the respondents named a lot of titles that are just as popular in the US. Metal Gear Solid 3 scored at the top of the list with 175 votes, followed in the top five by Final Fantasy VII (166 votes), Final Fantasy X (152 votes), Dragon Quest VIII (126 votes), and Kingdom Hearts (113 votes). The rankings obviously showed a preference for role-playing games, but other genres were represented by Resident Evil 4 (sixth place with 68 votes), Monster Hunter G (ninth place with 49 votes), and Super Mario Bros. (14th place with 38 votes).
And much like American teenagers, gamers in Japan are cutting back on their playing time, with 57.4 percent of the surveyed gamers saying they aren't playing like they used to. A busy schedule was the most common culprit, followed by a lack of fun games and then a lack of money.
As for interest levels in the next-generation consoles, the PlayStation 3 won out with 63.2 percent of gamers expressing interest in picking up the console, with the machine's high specs being the most commonly cited reason for it. Of those who remained on the fence about Sony's next effort, 76.9 percent weren't sure of its lineup of games and wanted to see more before making a decision, while 65 percent needed to know how much the system would cost before deciding on a purchase. Metal Gear Solid 4 ranked as the most anticipated game for the PS3, followed by Resident Evil 5, the next Final Fantasy, Devil May Cry 4, and the next Dragon Quest entry.
Interest toward Nintendo's Revolution was somewhat evenly split, with 36 percent saying they want the machine, 40.6 percent saying they aren't sure, and 23.4 percent saying they have no interest in picking it up. The most common reason for picking up the Revolution was its capability to play old games, followed by the Nintendo Wi-Fi connection. 41.7 percent said the innovative controller played in to their decision, and 29.7 percent of the respondents said it looked like a difficult way to control games.
Microsoft's Xbox 360 came in third in the polls, with 23.9 percent of the surveyed gamers interested in picking up the console, and 40.4 percent remaining undecided. While Microsoft Japan has concentrated on creating a lineup of games catered toward the taste of Japanese audiences, Famitsu's survey showed that they still need to work on getting more games. Gamers unsure about picking up the Xbox 360 cited its lineup as the top reason, followed by the console's price. The top three reasons for picking up the machine were its controller design, system specs, and removable hard drive.
The Xbox 360 game that garnered the most interest was Tecmo's Dead or Alive 4, followed by Mistwalker's Blue Dragon, Lost Odyssey, Namco's Ridge Racer, and Square Enix's Final Fantasy XI.