So Capcom boss Keiji Inafune really thinks the Japanese game industry is locked in a downward spiral . But while I agree that Japan should do something to adapt in an admittedly shifting environment, I also believe they're quite simply trying too hard. Either that, or they're giving in to untrue (or at least partially untrue) stereotypes.

We see the evidence everywhere. Square-Enix's upcoming lineup reads like something from EA and their flagship franchise, Final Fantasy , appeared for the first time on a Microsoft/American console this year. Many will also claim that the altered gameplay style was to appease the more action-oriented Westerners. Then there's Metal Gear Solid: Rising , which takes the legendary stealth series and makes it look like Ninja Gaiden . And speaking of NG, Itagaki teamed up with THQ to work on Devil's Third , a game that combines Japanese-style sword-slashing and third-person action elements from common Western shooters. The evidence of Japanese developers desperately trying to cater to Westerners is everywhere; take the intro of Nier , for instance. They actually opted to lead off with a poorly voiced, profanity-laden rant, which not only immediately paints the game in a bad light – which is unfortunate, because it's actually really fun – but also sort of sums up what Japanese designers think of Western gamers.

But even if they're wrong and even if they continue on this path, I have yet to understand why this requires them to abandon their very own fans. Has anyone even bothered to ask Japanese gamers what they think about these obvious changes from their favorite game companies? It's not like Japanese game makers are trying to drag in new fans; it's like they're only trying to focus on the West while almost entirely ignoring their very own countrymen. Why can't the two styles simply play nice? Why can't we take masters from East and West and just toss them in a room together more often? Maybe then the Japanese devs will realize that not all Westerners require Call of Duty ; that we can really love stuff like Heavy Rain ; that we love great games like Uncharted 2: Among Thieves that don't reek of cowboy-like bravado, intense violence, a combination of stupid and fast gameplay, dark overtones, and huge amounts of profanity…the very elements Japanese overdo when trying to make Westerners buy their products.

You know, it's interesting to compare this movement to the time when Western game developers couldn't possibly match up to the best efforts of the Japanese. But I don't really remember if the West attempted to give in to Japanese stereotypes and make similar-style games; actually, the way I remember it, I think they sort of presented their own style and atmosphere and just kept working on it. But either way, if the two "opposing" sides can't find a way to work together and cater to both Western and Eastern tastes, and Japan continues to stigmatize all Western gaming fans, then yeah…I guess Japan's game industry is in trouble.

One final note to the Japanese game companies: the average age of a gamer in the US is about 34 years old.  …we all grew up with your stuff .

Subscribe
Notify of
73 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
hellish_devil
hellish_devil
12 years ago

Funny how my favorite games of this generation are japanese: Valkyria Chronicles and Demon's Souls.

And is also funny how both of these games have very loyal cult-like fans, not just the brainless fanboys that Halo or Gears have.

hellish_devil
hellish_devil
12 years ago

And also my PS2 favorites were japanese: FFX, Dragon Quest VIII, Okami and Resident 4

Mavfan321
Mavfan321
12 years ago

Okami was too good trying to explain the merit of that game to my friends who for the most part are the MW2 kind of gamers is laborious.

gangan19
gangan19
12 years ago

you gave us rouge galaxy!!! how about part 2 for ps3….and be yourself 🙂


Last edited by gangan19 on 6/23/2010 3:54:16 AM

Gamer Girl Gemo
Gamer Girl Gemo
12 years ago

I played the crap out of Ookami again and again 😀
Gotta love Amaterasu.

coverton341
coverton341
12 years ago

Oh sweet monkey! Okami was the jam! I would pay good money to see that make the HD jump to a Blu-Ray disc for the PS3. Put it on there with God Hand or some Viewtiful Joe games. BAM!

King James
King James
12 years ago

Okami HD*

*PS Move Compatible

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
12 years ago

This trend can only end badly. I love Japanese games for what they offer, and Western games for what they offer. I don't even think they should interbreed, but I agree that Japan way overdoes their attempts to appeal to the West. Honestly do they really think of us like this? It's insulting to tell you the truth.

That rant at the beginning of Nier is way out of left field. Doesn't belong there. I'm enjoying the game but really wish it had been polished beyond its PS2 look.

bentl78
bentl78
12 years ago

hellish_devil pointed out, while Valkyria Chronicles and demon's souls were great games~

did they sell as well as halo and gears of war?

why do japanese companies want to make western games? coz they sell.. its all about business.

The japanese market is small.. they think by 'westernizing' their games.. or incorporating their games w/ western ideas.. they can sell more copies. $$ is all it finally comes down to.

ex:
games like Tales of vesperia, very very japanese, and sold decent in japan.. dont even get a US port for PS3.. why is that? coz Namco Bandai thinks it wont sell.

big6
big6
12 years ago

Even though your message has the flavour of an annoying rant, I can't help but totally agree with your core argument.

I truly believe it's all about sales, ultimately.

However, I really like how Kojima catered to the Western audience with MGS4, where he let the player move the camera fully. For years (decades?), Japanese 3rd-person games never allowed for a free-moving camera, because Japanese gamers didn't like it. That's about the only extent of a "Western direction" as I like to see.

TheHighlander
TheHighlander
12 years ago

I liken it to the way in which Japanimation and then anime have driven western cartoons. A masterpiece like the Avatar (The Last Airbender) series would not exist without the influence of Japanese Anime. And in fact rather than appealing to the usual western tastes this show manages to retain the whimsy and philosophy you might expect in a 'tier 1' anime.

But there was a time when cartoons in the west were typified by the formulaic junk that cam out of Hanna Barbera for decades. Shows likle Scooby and Scrappy Do, the various re-dos on that formula with talking dogs, mystery solving and even the same voices. Half the time it sounded like the same sound trck with slightly different matte paintings. But somewhere along the line US animators started to get it.

Japanese game developers are cutting off their nose to spite their own faces and producing formulaic nonsense.Abandoning your own home market and existing audiences to chase a new audience only works when you can guarantee a new audience to replace the one you abandoned. However it also creates a large consumer base that will always look at you with suspicion because you abandoned them. I feel like Japanese gamers and RPG fans are in that position right now. Hopefully Japanese developers will eventually realize that they can still make masterpieces without the junk and can stop trying to cater to the lowest common denominator and stereotype.

Alienange
Alienange
12 years ago

I can't believe you just threw CoD under the bus again.

I mean really, if Japanese developers are foolish enough to westernize their games, then they should at the very LEAST be trying to copy the success of a game that's sold 20 million copies rather than the one that's sold 2 million. Since they're not even doing THAT, I suggest they stick to their queer lead characters and long winded treks through the wilderness.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
12 years ago

I think he is correct in assuming that "…not all Westerners require Call of Duty"

BeezleDrop
BeezleDrop
12 years ago

Just because it sold 20 Million copies, does NOT mean MW2 is a good game, or worth anyones time. 20 Million people were prepared to pay for recycled gameplay, and other similar attributes that will never end. Others can consider copying CoD "successful" but in reality its nothing more than the lack of everything creative, intuitive, and original. IW clearly demonstrated, how mindless gamers cannot really tell the difference between mediocre action, and the same gameplay over, and over again. Bungie has done this with Halo, its the same game essentially, and look at how many people fell for that!

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
12 years ago

First of all, I'm once again disappointed in the reading comprehension around here. Nowhere do I even insinuate Call of Duty is bad. I imply that most Westerners like it, so the Japanese think we want every game to be that way.

Really, people…try to read more carefully. I shouldn't have to explain myself like this, when there's really nothing that needs to be explained.

Godslim
Godslim
12 years ago

BeezleDrop what are u on about the mw series is brilliant the singleplayer may be short but i have sure enough never played one like it there are so many epic bits and the characters like gaz and ghost are luvable!
and u lot keep using the same gameplay excuse isnt that what most sequals do keep the core basic stuff…..even uncharted 2 did that!


Last edited by Godslim on 6/23/2010 8:26:00 AM

Jawknee
Jawknee
12 years ago

Godslim you're obsessed with Call of Duty. Plus i think your the only one on the planet who actually liked the single player in MW2. Just about everyone i know who still plays MW2 hated the single player but still plays it because of the multiplayer.

For $60 bucks the single player was garbage. Probably the worst FPS single player experience I've had.


Last edited by Jawknee on 6/23/2010 10:17:26 AM

MadPowerBomber
MadPowerBomber
12 years ago

Jawknee: He's not the only one. I very much enjoyed Modern Warfare 2's solo campaign, more so than the first, and a lot more than World at War, and even though I've recently jumped into the multiplayer pool, I still prefer it over the multiplayer. MW2's single player campaign wasn't bad at all, if maybe a little short, and the plot behind it — while very similar to RED DAWN — was quite fascinating. More so than most action films centered around military whatsits nowdays.

I see lots of complaints about the single player campaign on MW2, but I don't understand the points to their arguments as they're all pretty off base. Same with Resident Evil 5.

Godslim
Godslim
12 years ago

you've just bigged it up so much in your head that the mw series are such bad games!

Phoelix
Phoelix
12 years ago

I almost feel insulted when Japanese game makers do stuff like this; "westernize" should not mean "dumb down"–at least in my opinion.

I think they need to get over their westophobia and just make games that they would want to play. Just because the devs in Japan are Japanese doesn't mean that I'm expecting the game to be "Japanese" in whatever regard.

Something tells me that they feel that they have something to prove (i.e. "look at how good our Japanese games are–they're better than the American ones!"), and this is undermining their efforts.

Gamer Girl Gemo
Gamer Girl Gemo
12 years ago

The sad/scary thing is… The games they're mkaing "westernized" ARE the games they want to play…

Hezzron
Hezzron
12 years ago

Well there's a little Japanese gaming company called Nintendo that has been doing pretty well for itself lately. Japan knows how to create fun games.

MATURE fun games that would appeal strictly to "34" year olds seems to be another story. The old JRPG gameplay we remember from our youth doesn't cut it anymore in this day and age of technology.

The artificial lengthening of a game by having you trek across the same map back and forth fighting the same bad guys over an over again with a menu based battle system akin to "playing" Windows 95, all the while enduring atrocious dialogue, doesn't appeal to the modern gamer. Sales have made that loud and clear.

Western developers have shown up Japanese developers many times over in various genres this gen…..and I don't think its particularly a bad thing. Who knows, maybe Japan will be forced to come up with some new gems.


Last edited by Hezzron on 6/22/2010 11:44:33 PM

TheHighlander
TheHighlander
12 years ago

Speak for yourself Hezron, I love that 'old fashioned' JRPG gameplay, give me a good old 50+ hour long turn based JRPG and I'm there. I think you'll find that a lot of people agree with me. It's not that that kind of gameplay doesn't cut it anymore, it's more that there are other gamers for who is doesn't work. Sadly game developers and publishers would rather cater to those gamers than the ones that have been buying their games for decades. So much for customer loyalty.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
12 years ago

I dunno man, most of the old JRPG lovers are still around, we are just older. I still don't mind saving the world with a group of teenagers from time to time.

kraygen
kraygen
12 years ago

I started laughing like crazy when I was reading what Hezzron wrote. I can easily say I'm with highlander and world on this one, I'm playing Final Fantasy IX right now for the first time and loving it.

I kill to have a ps3 rpg with turn based gameplay, 1 of my favorite rpgs this year has been Record of agarest war, which I didn't buy, I got it from a friend and it reminds me of FF Tactics, one of my favorite games of all time.

That and I doubt I'll ever find a game that does everything as right as FF VII.

Gamer Girl Gemo
Gamer Girl Gemo
12 years ago

WWNDD…
What Would Naughty Dog Do…?
And for the record, I love the whole walk everywhere, back and forth, fighting the same monsters/bad guys again and again, get this, do that, to get this, to do that, JRPGs. The airships everyone loves nowadays were really just kinda pushing it for traveling everywhere in FF.
Everyone just really wants their endings and no one wants their quality fun time.


Last edited by Gamer Girl Gemo on 6/23/2010 9:59:04 AM

Jawknee
Jawknee
12 years ago

I'm with Highlander, World and Kraygen on this one too.

shadowscorpio
shadowscorpio
12 years ago

I'm with Highlander , World, Kraygen and Jawknee as well.

How do Devs truly know what games appeal to who? How do you or I know? Everyone has different taste. My favorite color is blue so does that mean that blue is the best color in the world or that everyones favorite color is blue? Last time I checked Japanese devs didn't ask me if I would support a product that THEY think caters to me, a 'westerner'. Most devs for that matter don't truly listen or seek out in doing what their core fans want. i.e. Square -Enix.

We clearly want them to stay true to their Eastern culture but they want to westernize. Simply ridiculous.


Last edited by shadowscorpio on 6/23/2010 1:40:32 PM

just2skillf00l
just2skillf00l
12 years ago

My favorite color is blue too…that's 100% of the participants so far…just had to be an ass for once. 😉

StangMan80
StangMan80
12 years ago

I Hate that MGS and FF went multiplate. Because now those games we grew loving are now changing.
We want our games back.

shadowpal2
shadowpal2
12 years ago

You're damn right Mr. Dutka! Like I posted on the original article…I want my Ar Tonelico to be an Ar Tonelico…I want my Atelier Iris to stay Atelier Iris…Disagaea – DISGAEA…RYU GA GOTOKU – RYU GA GOTOKU…Shin Megami Tensei – Shin Megami Tensei…Final Fantasy – Final Fantasy during the PSX/PS2 ages!

And you bring up an excellent point in asking how Japanese fans will react. How will they react? Doesn't anyone remember here how everyone in Japanese went completely insane over Dragon Quest IX? A DS game? Akihabara nearly blew up.

Stick to your original fan base! Like a commenter from the previous article mentioned…just because you're getting less of a percentage in the gaming market – IT DOES NOT MEAN that your fans have abandoned you and want something different! It just means that there are more new gaming fans which is a +.

Now try and show those gaming fans what you're made of by showing off your stuff – NOT GIVING the same thing they've been fed over and over again. Give the gamer a variety!

Snaaaake
Snaaaake
12 years ago

The stupid ones are being blinded by GTAIV and MW2's record-breaking sale……..

Call me evil, but I'd love to see the demise of Square Enix, Capcom and Namco.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
12 years ago

I would be okay with adding/changing some things to bring in more fans, but throwing the baby out with the bathwater is not okay.

Snaaaake
Snaaaake
12 years ago

No kidding, it's like selling burger in a restaurant only to realized that hot dog is becoming more and more popular and then dropping the burger from your menu……

BikerSaint
BikerSaint
12 years ago

Japanese developers need only to search within themselves to find their lost zen.

Either make the very best artistic masterpiece based on the know-how that you've already gained over your life's time.
Or sell your soul to the West for a few yen more

So Japanese developers, which fork in the road WILL you choose?

Will it be the more slower Eastern road to mastering eternal serenity????

Or will you be blinded by the greenback route and travel the quicker Western path to forever ruins & foolish damnation.

"Think wisely, young grasshoppers"!!!!!

TheHighlander
TheHighlander
12 years ago

Sometimes I think that such 'Eastern Wisdom' is felt more in the West.

BikerSaint
BikerSaint
12 years ago

Highlander,
Yes, it seems that some of these developer's want to walk away their craft, their history, and their culture.

I don't get it, to add on to it is one thing, but to blindly disregard who you are, and whom you've always been, and to forsake your own gaming heritage???

Maybe I'm wrong, but I have always thought of the Japanese as being proud of their culture & traditions, so again, I just don't get it.


Last edited by BikerSaint on 6/23/2010 2:01:04 AM

Scarecrow
Scarecrow
12 years ago

Yeah, it's really weird…

Japan is a very proud country but at the same time they love learning 'bout other cultures/countries.

So there's always that conflict of ideas and what they should be like.

I think they Japanese just need to take what they like from other cultures and not FORCE themselves to like what they don't like (guns, blood, and simple/dumb gaming)

They need a savior, they need a company which makes a distinctly Japanese game which sells like 10 million and they realize that quality > eastern/western

TheHighlander
TheHighlander
12 years ago

It seems that there is an undercurrent of self loathing among certain sectors of the Japanese development community. It's almost as if they have intense culture envy. Which is ironic considering how fascinating many in the West find Japanese culture.

I don't know how this will shake out in the end, but I do honestly wish that Japanese developers would learn to love their own cultural values and develop games that harmonize with that. Sure there might be certain game forms or even styles or development techniques that they can use. But in trying so hard to cater to the 'Western gamer' they are creating caricatures of Western games. Which is a pity when you consider the obvious talent that the Japanese gaming industry has.

Lawless SXE
Lawless SXE
12 years ago

As I've said before. It's about the money, not the fans. These companies don't give a damn about the people that have faithfully bought their games for the last 20, 30 years. All they care about is the damn dollar signs hanging in front of their eyes as they glare in envy at the sales numbers of games like GTA, CoD and Halo.

They think that by incorporating these ideas into their classic formulas they can derive more success. When they realise that no such thing happens, they cut out the pieces of their originals in an attempt to cater to a wider audience, when really their audience is getting smaller because they are telling their fans to get f'd and the people they are trying to attract simply don't care.

You're right that they go way overboard in their attempts at creating a Western game, but when their type of games don't work anymore, what else do they see themselves doing? I would personally like to see an eastern company tell "the logic of business" to take a flying leap and create something more graded towards the older style and see how it goes.

Enough ranting from me.
Peace.

Gamer Girl Gemo
Gamer Girl Gemo
12 years ago

I'm pretty sure eastern devs would give the oldies a try again, if they weren't such pansies. For two reasons, which I understand, yet resent.
One: Fans may bash the devs for doing such a "haneous crime" in trying to reattempt what they had made so long ago and ultimately screwed over by trying to add things. (i.e FFVII remake. Many want, yet many are afraid of SE screwing it up.)
Two: Money. That's just it. They think they're doing a "great job" currently, and they're just going to keep going on the "western money train". (I.e FFXIII)
So, until these devs can get the idea of sticking-with-their-own-stuff-works-better in their heads, all aboard! Choo choo!

Scarecrow
Scarecrow
12 years ago

Sad, if the Japanese game industry boils down to FPSs and Call of D00ty like games then this is when gaming starts entering Hollywood territory

Money > quality (creativity, art, etc.)

Zorigo
Zorigo
12 years ago

who one downed him. he's got a point. how often do you see brilliant films in hollywood these days. sure there are comedies and whatnot, but there aren't epic films in such abundance in hollywood any more.

i mean uncharted 2 and MGS4 where better films than what cineworld can offer me at the moment (for epic movies, i still love comedies though)

Gamer Girl Gemo
Gamer Girl Gemo
12 years ago

Hollywood just hasn't hit their milestone (besides Avatar, that got pretty close to it) and it'll take some time to get out of their rut. Hollywood is running out of ideas, thus they're ripping ideas off of each other, and now the gaming industry, and just putting a new, although all the same, shiny label on it.

Hollywood is finally reaching its limit and will someday lay down its cliches and bow to the ultimate form of entertainment… Gaming.

kraygen
kraygen
12 years ago

We all make mistakes, hopefully we realize it, fix it if we can, learn from it, and move on, making ourselves better.

I'm just hoping that these devs will soon realize their mistakes and get back to doing what they do best.

Snaaaake
Snaaaake
12 years ago

I doubt it, at the moment western games are still selling better, they're gonna do it until one of their products sell like MW2 did.

Snaaaake
Snaaaake
12 years ago

They're following the western way but the west ain't following the Japanese.

Sheesh…..DON'T FOLLOW THEM IF THEY'RE NOT FOLLOWING YOU!!!

___________
___________
12 years ago

i would not say giving in to stereotypes its more expanding there fan base in hopes to make more cash.

Snaaaake
Snaaaake
12 years ago

Expanding?
They're ignoring the current fans just to get new fans aka more money and you call that expanding?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

Zorigo
Zorigo
12 years ago

and not exactly understanding what western gamers want either.

not all of us are 15 year old fanboys who swear because we're cool…

altho i am 15, and i do swear a bit. but im not cool.