You know, we get the feeling that if all Japanese developers had simply stuck to this simple motto, everything would've turned out just fine.
Much has been made about the East/West divide in the industry, and how many Japanese publishers have sought to appeal to Western gamers. But BlazBlue director Takeshi Yamanaka dismisses the whole mess and just says, "I only see gamers." Speaking to Edge , the Arc System Works boss spoke about the shifting industry trends and changing business models. When asked if his company would ever go in a direction that would appeal more to Westerners, Yamanaka replied:
"Absolutely not. If you want to make a game that appeals to the west, you might as well have westerners doing it.
Personally, I don’t view users according to their nationality, but rather as gamers. I make games for people who like them. If there are people who like fighting games with Japanese-animation-style motions and a fantasy setting, I’m making the game for them. I don’t understand why some of us in the industry want to draw a line between the Japanese and overseas industries. I see only gamers, with various tastes."
Why? Why couldn't Wada have said this years ago? 'cries' It's the perfect philosophy, isn't it? What has become of most Japanese efforts to cater to the Western gamer? Granted, the changing business landscape may force the hand of various developers and publishers, and we understand being intimidated and maybe hitting the panic button. I.e., "oh my God, if we don't create a shooter, we're gonna go bankrupt!"
But right now, Yamanaka's statement should be the new philosophy for the entire Japanese industry. Take the risk. Do what you've always done. Maybe it won't be so bad…could it be worse than suffering a 92% drop in profits ('cough' Square-Enix 'cough')?
I think I have found a new personal hero. Why can't more developers see it this way?
I've said the same all this generation. Bayonetta, Vanquish and most other really good Japanese games this generation have come when devs and directors have been given freedom to make the games they wanted to make. It's not been so when the west has been the prime concern. It's surprising it took so nlong for a dev to say the obvious.
Christ, IF I can think it out why have so few Japanese industry figures.
More developers don't see things that way due to the one issue that only trails air on the importance list on this planet.
Without it, you can't do anything.
It's more or less that kind of thinking that's really hurting Square-Enix. When money becomes an end unto itself, we're all in big trouble. The notion of pursuing money directly is flawed because it doesn't always work and can really backfire. It's even possible that it can be compared to selling one's soul.
Thankfully there are developers who put being true to themselves first. Developers like Sucker Punch, NIS, Gust, Quantic Dream, Arc System Works, and others.
And of course games like Heavy Rain and Littlebigplanet are very important because they prove that developers can take risks and stay true to themselves and still get rewarded for it. The entire industry should take note.
Last edited by Looking Glass on 1/14/2011 11:23:28 AM
Indeed. Money in itself isn't a bad thing. It's the human nature behind it that usually is!
In the end, the bottom line will always matter when it comes to keeping a business a float.
With the current state of the global economy, the very issue of money will become an even more important facet of the industry.
In regards to studio's staying true to themselves, I agree with the only exception of also having a pulse of the gaming community.
Unfortunately, main stream titles such as Call of Duty have begun to dictate everything, and it's near impossible to ignore the 10-15 million plus sold copies of each title. Every developer want's that, and it's easy to see why.
Not EVERY developer. There are a number of them who are simply content to do what they do best and/or look after their own fanbases. The five developers I already mentioned are some good examples.
Money is no doubt a significant part of the industry. But it by no means rules the industry.
And it's a damn good thing too. Can you imagine the market being flooded with nothing but Call of Duty clones?
Last edited by Looking Glass on 1/14/2011 12:18:06 PM
Ah, but very occasionally someone realizes that lots of money is good enough, you don't need obscene amounts, only what is needed to grow your company and make you and your people comfortable.
I wish that more business men and investors could think like this.
Assuming of course you even want to grow. There are a number of companies that are simply content to be who they are and do what they do. Once again the five I mentioned being some good examples.
And it's probably best this way. Ambition doesn't always work out well. Case in point: the current state of Square-Enix.
Last edited by Looking Glass on 1/14/2011 12:37:38 PM
For starters, Sucker Punch is going multiplatform, and something tells me money and the growth of their business was the reasoning.
Gust, NIS, and Arc Systems never have put out anything that has appealed to me, so feel free to inform me on their sales and growth.
And yes, some companies are content with their current state, but as an owner of a company for the past 10 years, being content and not having in growth is a failed business model.
It's like the cold war again, developing it's splitting into blocks.
The downside is this doesn't generate a games race.
By the way anybody heard of Final Fantasy Type-0???
Sucker Punch going multiplatform? At this point in time that's nothing but rumor and speculation. And they have outright stated before that they don't really do multiplatform games because they love what they do and doing that would take a significant portion of the enjoyment out of it.
They could end up developing a game for the Xbox 360 or something but if they did it would likely be an Xbox 360 exclusive.
A failed business model eh?
Well, I guess we shall see.
Last edited by Looking Glass on 1/14/2011 1:38:19 PM
Forgive me, I mixed up Sucker Punch with Insomniac.
Yeah, you have to have some level of growth in your business. Not saying it has to be exponential, just an increase.
Well, if your talking about stuff like hiring more people and acquiring more work space and so forth, then I see nothing wrong with that.
On the other hand, when it comes to things like throwing away principles and identity for the sake of the pursuit of more money, then I do see something wrong with that. I do believe that's what is known as selling out. Or perhaps it could be thought of as capitalism taken too far so to speak. And this is pretty much the kind of thing I was referring to when I said grow.
But I guess there are different kinds of growth: good and bad.
And yes, I am well aware of Insomniac's intention to start a multiplatform project after they get done with Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One and Resistance 3. I have no problem with that. Insomniac has served Playstation fans loyally and competently for many years.
And it's important to note that even during the very hard early years of the PS3 they stood by Sony and the PS3 at a time when other developers were shifting support away from it (thanks a lot Ubisoft).
This upcoming multiplatform thing really seems to be simply more about a desire to try something new and spread their wings as they put it. Sony respects that, and so do I.
Insomniac is a most respectable company and I wish them the best with whatever they do. And of course it would also be nice if the PS3 could get some exclusive content for their multiplatform game.
Last edited by Looking Glass on 1/14/2011 2:11:39 PM
With regard to the status of Arc System Works, Gust, and NIS. Let me see.
Arc System Works is doing well. They very much understand the advantages of being multiplatform and have certainly fully embraced the concept. But as I think the article demonstrates they also know exactly who they are and what they do and they're proud of it. Very much to their credit.
Gust has also been doing very well. They are a company who sticks to Japanese platforms, mostly Sony, and it would seem they are exclusively Sony supporters when it comes to consoles. One of their latest releases, Atelier Rorona, has sold well both in Japan and the states and they are pleased with the numbers. Their latest release, Atelier Totori, is enjoying similar success and will likely eventually follow it's predecessor to the states to continue the success.
NIS on the other hand has recently taken a hit, likely as a result of the global recession. However I seriously doubt that this will continue. As I mentioned before Atelier Rorona has done well in the states and they are the ones who published it. Furthermore, they are also publishing two more promising titles in the west that both have a good shot at financial success, Ar Tonelico Qoga and Hyperdimension Neptunia. Furthermore and most importantly they are releasing Disgaea 4 in both Japan and the west this year. This title is virtually guaranteed to be a financial success. NIS is a very strong supporter of Sony and almost all of their developed and published titles have been on Sony platforms.
Last edited by Looking Glass on 1/14/2011 3:34:24 PM
My heart skipped a bit when I read about Sucker Punch going multiplatform, although I figured that maxpontiac was referring to Insomniac. And he was. LOL
But man, Takeshi Yamanaka deserves a heck lot of kudos for saying those very words. Wada & co. ought to listen and should be ashamed of themselves!
This makes me even more proud to be a Blazblue fan.
Finally a company who knows what their doing! wooo! i love ARKSYS!
Do not forget NIS or Level 5.
WHOO! Level 5!
Level-5 gets all my love.
Don't forget Atlus too.
This is pretty much how most Japanese developers have been and still are. Square Enix just happened to have a moron in charge and look how that turned out. But I still think about 90-95% of the Japanese developers today are just like we develop games in Japan, so we will appeal to our Japanese audience and if Americans happen to like it too, then good for them(if it comes out of Japan that is).
But on a related note, I hope Aksys brings over Arcana Heart 3.
Last edited by Ar_tonelico on 1/14/2011 11:15:35 AM
That's exactly what happens in Yakuza series. They completely focuses on Japanese market, but when they bring it over to West, the sales are just an added bonus.
We haven't even gotten Arcana Heart 2 yet.
Last edited by Looking Glass on 1/14/2011 11:30:58 AM
Arcana Heart 2 will have to be skipped because 1. It's a PS2 game and think companies are trying to kill off PS2, and 2. The bugs in Arcana Heart 2 were horrible that not even Atlus wanted it and try to debug it.
We can still technically get Arcana Heart 3 but will just have to be marketed differently.
An added problem that needs to be dealt with though is that some just ignore a japanese game and say "The west won't like this" so there's no discussion about localization or distribution for the west at all. (Tales series)
I'm getting tired of grouping one another now. No, the Japanese industry is not trying to cater to West, it's a few select (albeit big ones) studios that are. There are countless studios STILL making traditional Japanese games today.
Oh no! Enix and Capcom aren't so that means the whole of Japans development studios are not….
The actual problem is the publishing side of the fence…..many don't make it over seas.
Also, i have stated many times, let Enix go if you have to complain about them everytime. Many others have replaced them so it ain't no biggie, and you know which company alone i replace them with, yup…Level 5. You know, the ones turning out ACTUAL Jrpgs that rival Square in their prime…..Ni No Kuni looks more promising than any Square Rpg i have seen since FF9….So why no talk of games like that? Project Dark…has it been mentioned here yet?
They completely spoke my mind. There are no Western and Eastern gamers, just gamers with different tastes. I live in the west, but I love eastern games.
I totally understand the need to appeal to "western" gamers because games are getting expensive to develop, but I think there are better solution than changing their style of gameplay. The better solution is just doing more advertising.
I've never played Blaz Blu, but I do agree that the Japanese should stick to what makes their stuff unique and special. Games like Quantum Theory probably would've never happened if that were the case, and franchises like DMC wouldn't have been cowardly surrendered to a western dev.
I think I'm going to buy Blazblue just because of this.
Ben, can you keep this article up in the front all year long?
Article of the year.
Last edited by Scarecrow on 1/14/2011 11:40:22 AM
Cant wait til the next Blazblue patch..Valk arcade mode!
Spring 2011, can't wait!
This wasn't a problem years ago and just because the FPS genre got popular this is no reason to drop everything that was good. They should just quit the western/eastern deal and go back to what they were doing in the PS2 days.
I'm not a fan of BlazBlue or fighting games in general, but I am a fan of someone that knows what they want. He understands gamers are gamers, I have people from all over the world on my friends list and it's funny that we all play roughly the same games "Good Ones". We may not be able to talk directly to each other without using a piece of translation software, but that doesn't stop us from knowing a good game when we see it.
This is why I am such a fan of the Yakuza series. They have never catered to the west just removed content that they thought we wouldn't like, and even that was a mistake which they learned from.
Ben please forward this article to every developer in Japan, I don't care if it takes you weeks do it lol.
Ben I apologize for the multiple post, it normally pops right up so when it didn't I thought it didn't register. If someone could delete my first three and this one if you want I'd appreciate it. Again sorry.
Rogueagent (and anyone else),
If you can edit your post, you can usually also delete it. The delete button appears as a grey trash can to the right of the edit button (which also has the text "Edit", though the delete button doesn't have any text).
Nice to hear this from SOMEbody. Here is my take on it. If you know certain titles (Yeah FF) are going to sell on brand name, AND they are popular for having very Japanese elements then go ahead and give those fans what they want. New gamers will come around to it at the instruction of their elders and everybody is happy.
THEN go ahead and put a team on a western styled IP and test the market to see what you can make that they like then go ahead and produce Japanese and Western games to keep making money while staying with industry trends.
Do this instead of hacking up Japanese games and pissing off fans and critics alike.
OMFG! At LAST! This is wonderful! Finally a developer comes out and says what many of us have been saying here for years now.
Thank you Takeshi Yamanaka, please do keep on doing what you do best and make games for your primary audience and let those who enjoy them in the west buy them as they are. All I ask is a minimal text based localization.
It's nice to hear a dev say what the fans have been screaming all along.
It's sad that at one point I would have bought a game I knew nothing about just because it said square on it, now I see it and start to feel sick to my stomach.
That's how I wound up getting into Star Ocean. It was an RPG that said Square on it so I bought it.
Last edited by WorldEndsWithMe on 1/14/2011 2:08:33 PM
When you consider the fact that Arc Systems primary business is making and releasing arcade games in an industry where arcade games are still big(Japan) its quite obvious as why Yamanaka would arrive at such a conclusion.
For companies like S-E though its a whole different ball game.
Japan is longer a console-friendly market and games are selling less and less(see GT5 which only managed to moved 500,000 copies in japan to date; a 60% drop over previous releases) compared to previous generations and as a consequence large japanese gamemakers have no choice but to move west and adopt western thinking.
With that mind don't blame S-E for the business choice they have made because in the end those decisions were thrust onto them by a changing japanese game market.
Move west? Maybe. Adopt western thinking? I kind of doubt it. I've said this before but they were doing great in the west before they started trying to directly cater to the west and I guarantee you that a PS3 remake of FFVII for example would sell like hotcakes.
The notion that business strategies (and not necessarily good ones) were more important than creativity was forced upon them? Flat out lying to their consumers was something that was forced upon them?
I seriously doubt that. The people running Square-Enix got themselves into this mess. It will be interesting to see if they get themselves out of it, and if so how exactly this will be done.
My thumb is killing me from playing through the end game of FFXIII.
Alright what are we talking about? A dev in Japan has figured out that gamers are gamers? That's good. Problem is, big game companies don't hire gamers to run them. They hire business men. Business men, in general, know that the money is in the States.
Maybe. But even that doesn't necessarily justify trying to specifically cater to western tastes. They've been trying to do that for years now and it's done them no big favors, if any at all.
Barthandalus = easiest FF villain of all time.
Um, actually, no, it's not. The money that is.
The European Union is a bigger market of consumers, and the prices for games, systems and accessories in Europe are penny for penny higher, so game companies make more money there. The worldwide market for games (excluding the US) is larger than the US market alone. This notion that the US market rules the roost is due for a bit of a shake up.