We've all heard the gamer and analyst reactions to E3, but what about the Japanese development community? The latest issue of Famitsu scored brief comments from Japan's most respected development staff on May's big trade show. While the comments ended up being, for the most part, neutral, there were a few hints at where priorities lie in the next generation race. Many of the developers mentioned PS3 and Wii but ignored Xbox 360. Flight Plan's Masami Watanabe (Black Matrix, Summon Night series) said that, given its specifications, he imagines the PS3 being the standard for the next 10 years. The PS3 is something that a developer has to make games for, he said, while the Wii is something developers out to try out if they have a good idea for it. Sega's Takumi Yoshinaga of Feel the Magic fame said that his attention is most focused on the PS3, as he's interested in seeing what type of developments the Cell will bring about. He's also interested in the connectivity between the DS and Wii.
A few developers were surprised by the PS3 announcements at E3. Capcom's Hiroyuki Kobayashi was surprised that Sony set a firm price and release date at E3. He noted that, looking at the PS3 titles that are being developed overseas, development for the system seems as though it's being handled differently in Japan. The thing that made him most glad about going to E3 is that he was able to get a final image for Devil May Cry 4.
Kobayashi's former coworker, Noritaka Funamizu, who now heads up Craft & Meister, also experienced some Sony shock at E3. While he was surprised to see the PS3 controller lose its rumble, the biggest impression from the show was the PS3's price. He actually expected the 60,000 price point, but he was also expecting Sony to hold off on release until March of 2007. He doesn't feel that Blu-Ray will have as much impact on sales as DVD did, and he believes the PS3 has yet to show what will make it sell. He believes the system's networking will be a sales point.
Gaia's Kouji Okada had a somewhat pessimistic reaction to E3. He was most surprised by the PS3's price -- cheap for a Blu-Ray player, but expensive for a game machine. He noted that, for people who just want to play games, this price point will be difficult. For the Wii, Okada believes that playing the system for lengthy periods could be tiresome. He also feels that Wii games will have to, from here on out, avoid being extensions of current style games and instead make proper use of the controller. Noting that console gaming could be entering a period of confusion, he suggested that players can expect great things from portable machines.
Some developers look a more neutral stance, touching on all three platforms. Level 5's Akihiro Hino (Dragon Quest VIII) had praise for the high visual quality of Final Fantasy XIII. Wii gave him the sense of taking gaming back to the basics and simply being fun to play. For Xbox 360, he noted that the system seems to have strong software going into its second year.
Q Entertainment's Tetsuya Mizuguchi also commented on all three platforms. He feels that E3 offered a more solid image of the different approaches being taken by the hardware manufacturers: the PS3, with its movie-like qualities, the Xbox 360, with its Vista connections and digital convergence of content, and the Wii, which inherits its sense of control from the toy world.
Finally, because we don't have enough Xbox 360 love in this article, we turn to Team Ninja's Tomonobu Itagaki. The chief ninja said that it took guts for Sony to change the controller design back to the original Dual Shock design, but added that as a developer of action games, Team Ninja has to consider that the controller no longer has rumble features. Regarding the Wii, he disclosed to Famitsu that someone asked him to make beach volleyball game using the controller. This made him wonder if one might get tired using the Wiimote for something like Dead or Alive Xtreme 2, which can be played for over 100 hours. Itagaki feels that the 360 had its usual strong showing, but he expressed hope that the heated overseas Xbox 360 market could be brought over to Japan.