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Inafune On Quality Of Japanese Games: "It's Gotten Worse"

Last year, Keiji Inafune wasn't shy about telling everyone about the dire state of Japanese gaming. And that hasn't changed.

Former Capcom boss and Comcept founder Inafune spoke to GameSpot about how Japanese developers still aren't up to snuff; in fact, he said since his statements, he thinks things might've gotten worse. Said Inafune:

"I had wanted Japanese games to be better. But looking back on the last couple of years, it hasn't changed. I had hoped it would have gone better, but because it hasn't changed, it's probably gotten worse. But compared to when I started being vocal, now everybody knows for sure that it's not in a good state. They just haven't come to a conclusion as to what they should do, so I'm still hoping it will be better."

That's the silver lining, really. Everyone's attention was drawn to the seemingly obvious fact that even the best Japanese franchises were starting to pale in comparison to the Western masterpieces. Previously, another outspoken gaming personality, Tomonobu Itagaki, suggested that budgets simply aren't high enough for Japanese game projects.

Inafune also reiterated his belief that Japanese devs have to learn how to go global, and they're not really trying:

"There are a lot of specific problems, but a good example would be that this is GDC. It's the Game Developers Conference. Out of the Japanese creators, how many of the major ones are here at the show? It's very limited, and that itself states that Japan is not taking global business seriously. They should be here at the show, giving sessions and mingling with the rest of the world more, intentionally. But I don't see that, and that's one of the biggest problems...that Japan is not looking at the global perspective. We all know for sure that we have to go global, but the actions are not there."

Personally, I think what we really need is for Hideo Kojima to come through big time with MGS5 (and maybe that secret project, too), and for The Last Guardian to make an appropriately large splash. That could help a lot but of course, there's still a long ways to go...

Tags: keiji inafune, japanese games, japanese video games, gaming industry

3/12/2012 8:41:14 PM Ben Dutka

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Comments (33 posts)

stealth
Monday, March 12, 2012 @ 9:50:55 PM
Reply

This is perphaps is most ridiculous and hypocritical statement

He goes on and on about ios and then........HE MAKES A 3DS AND A VITA GAME. So why the hell is he complaining about that?

Japan doesnt have a big franchise like call of duty?

Its called monster hunter, mario, zelda, dragon quest, pokemon, final fantasy ect........he seems butt hurt over the lack of shooters or ios games HE ISNT MAKING

At least he admits the west also has problems

But he comes off as hypocritical


Japanese master pieces this gen lap western games. It isnt even really close. Not in platformers, rpgs, fighting games, puzzle, whatever you name it

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Teddie9
Monday, March 12, 2012 @ 10:02:13 PM

Too true, I don't see Inafune raising the bar for his country's industry.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Monday, March 12, 2012 @ 10:05:04 PM

But all those games are generations behind in tech, story, and gameplay.

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Highlander
Tuesday, March 13, 2012 @ 12:56:48 PM

@Teddie,

Inafune is proving that it's easier to complain about something than do something about it.

Last edited by Highlander on 3/13/2012 12:57:00 PM

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Jawknee
Monday, March 12, 2012 @ 10:05:02 PM
Reply

This coming from the guy who hasn't made a good game since MegaMan.

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Kevin5
Monday, March 12, 2012 @ 11:00:38 PM

Fail.

Onimusha & Dead Rising were both solid, well established franchises lead by this man.

Not just Megaman.



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Jawknee
Monday, March 12, 2012 @ 11:24:20 PM

And neither of those games are worth the discs they're burned on. Especially Dead Rising.

Nice attempt at putting me in my place. Maybe next time champ.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Monday, March 12, 2012 @ 11:50:34 PM

Woah...wait a minute. Onimusha was great.

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GuyverLT
Tuesday, March 13, 2012 @ 11:21:55 AM

Onimusha was one of Capcom best franchises last gen.

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pillz81
Thursday, March 15, 2012 @ 11:59:02 AM

Gonna respectfully ask Jawknee to "Check yoself" regarding Onimusha. With the exception of Onimusha 2, I have played all Onimusha games to the end and can say they are worth the discs they're burned on.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Monday, March 12, 2012 @ 10:09:29 PM
Reply

I just wish there was some way to update everything about Japanese games without westernizing them and ditching great traditions. You don't need to sell out to go global, just to catch up to this generation in execution.

MGS4 excluded of course.

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archs13
Monday, March 12, 2012 @ 10:49:29 PM

I agree. I want weird games like Catherine and Katamari from time to time.

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hellish_devil
Monday, March 12, 2012 @ 11:50:06 PM

I want weird games all the time!

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Beamboom
Tuesday, March 13, 2012 @ 3:27:20 AM

Me too! I just don't really care what continent the weird game were created. :)

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BigBoss4ever
Monday, March 12, 2012 @ 11:29:02 PM
Reply

Kojima and Ueda are two of the last standing Pillar in the Japanese gaming industry, the most perfectionistic ones.... I will back up both.

I don't necessarily agree with the Globalization argument, the real problem for Japanese developers are that they appear to have lost their confidence and their worship of their own Japanese flair in the gaming for no apparent logical reasons and blinded by the simple idiotic idea that "westernization" is the key to money making... which fundamentally lead to the derail of the entire Japanese industry.

From the graphics and character building point of view, few developers including the western ones can match up to what SE can produce and they still have it, but they do not have the proper way of thinking that lead them through and they are too tempted to share the western pie which is not their strength to the least.... likewise for the rest of the Japanese developers

...my advice to them is: the western pies are not that easy to eat, just focus on what you originally do at your best and the western pies will come to you themselves and beg for you, you do not need to tailor towards them -- if you are a diamond, someones will figure out and you will shine regardless.... Best latest example -- Operation rainfall in which you made awesome Japanese flair JRPGs and the west beg for you to localize.

Last edited by BigBoss4ever on 3/12/2012 11:35:08 PM

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hellish_devil
Monday, March 12, 2012 @ 11:54:39 PM

Great point, Operation Rainfall, best example of how much we want to have authentic Japanese games!

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___________
Tuesday, March 13, 2012 @ 5:16:32 AM
Reply

how can he say there not considering the global market when all there doing is changing their games to appeal to other audiences besides asia?
in other words appeal to the global market!
FFXIII,RE5,DMC4,sonic,DR, so many traditionally japanese games have changed drastically only to try appeal to the more western market.
so how the hell can you then say there not appealing to anyone outside JP!?
if anything thats the problem, not that their not appealing to wider markets!
ive heard my fair share of ridiculous claims.... but this has GOT to take the cake!

what japanese companies need to do is simple.
look at the new IPs for crapcom.
crapcom releases DMC4 a well known franchise everyone loves.
fans hurl crap at them.
crapcom releases RE5 a well known franchise everyone loves.
fans hurl crap at them.
crapcom releases bionic commando a well known franchise everyone loves.
fans hurl crap at them.
crapcom creates new IP asuras wrath.
fans love it!
crapcom creates new IP dragons dogma.
fans love it!
anyone seeing a pattern?
crapcom releases sequel to beloved IP = crap bath.
crapcom releases new IP = fan praise.
hmmmmmmmm, i wonder why..........
why are crapcom getting covered in the brownies whenever they do a sequel, but am loved whenever they do a new IP?
could it possibly have something to do with them trying to constantly change their beloved franchises?
asuras wrath and dragons dogma are new IPs, so how can they change them?
how can they piss off fans?
they cant!
eureka, we have a solution!

have a little of both!
have a few traditionally japanese games to keep the fans happy.
after all you are a japanese company, i dont go to japan expecting the worlds best italian food!
but to cover the lower sales, lets be honest here japanese games dont sell as well outside asia then what a "westernized" game will.
so they have to release a few westernized games to cover their back pocket.
simple solution, do so.
thats fine!
JUST DONT DO IT WITH WELL KNOWN BELOVED FRANCHISES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

simple, no!?

another thing they need to do, and this is the one area i agree with him.
JP needs to step up their budgets!
you have a look at western games they just feel far superior to japanese games in production values.
its like watching a big blockbuster hollywood film, then watching a indie film at the goodwood festival.
indies may be better, allot of the time they are!
but the budgets, the production values are allot lower.
thats another thing that would help them allot, just make their games feel as high budget and AAA as western games.
MGS4 for instance would be the exception of the rule that STILL looks freaking amazing!
other then that everything from the land of the rising sun looks pretty low budget.
maybe AA but definitely not AAA.


Last edited by ___________ on 3/13/2012 5:30:47 AM

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Highlander
Tuesday, March 13, 2012 @ 9:37:37 AM

You forgot the part where the beloved franchise games were changed to the western audience's supposed preferences.

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BikerSaint
Tuesday, March 13, 2012 @ 11:32:10 AM

____________,

Well, here's one of the rare times when the moon turns into Bleu Cheese, & I agree with you.


But I still think you could have said just about the same thing......in 25 words or less.

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Temjin001
Wednesday, March 14, 2012 @ 11:05:29 AM

hehe Crapcom
still gets a chuckle out of me =p

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Beamboom
Tuesday, March 13, 2012 @ 5:36:57 AM
Reply

What I think it so strange is that it seems no Japanese speak English, not even "the big guys" in international companies.
Seeing how Gamespot had to use a translator, Ben needed to get his WKC questions translated to japanese, etc, my impression now is that simply put *none* speak any other language than their own.
I've also seen other interviews or video clips where a translator were needed. No wonder few Japanese developers are at the big developer conventions then (as this guy complains about) - they probably would not understand a word that had been said!

It's so weird since Japan is such a huge country on exports to the entire world, with their car and electronics brands etc.


Last edited by Beamboom on 3/13/2012 5:39:09 AM

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BikerSaint
Tuesday, March 13, 2012 @ 11:54:26 AM

Beamboom,

I think you really hit a key point there.

If the Japanese CEO's & such can't take the time to at least learn the languages of some of their overseas country's consumer/sales base, then just how in the hell can they even begin to understand how other gaming cultures & likes/dislikes other than Japan's own, actually work.

I think that in their eyes, all they now see is the West, so therefore they must become the West.

But what they're failing to realize is that we want they to continue on being their own East.

And I think Japan has also become legally-blind by all that game-jacking money grab that COD has been doing.

"Japan, beware of false prophets"

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JackC8
Tuesday, March 13, 2012 @ 7:08:52 AM
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The impression I get is that these Japanese developers are the pinnacle of top-down management. The studio head fancies himself a rock star and may or may not show up at the office on any sort of regular basis. The programmers are little drones who would never dream of making a creative decision on their own. Everyone is perfectly happy to sit and do nothing until the Big Guy shows up to make all the decisions, no matter how minuscule, lest the little worker drones be accused of forgetting their place in the corporate hierarchy.

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Robochic
Tuesday, March 13, 2012 @ 8:45:40 AM
Reply

the problem is they dumb down games if they release them to NA why i'm unsure or they just forget the whole world and only release in their country ? If they continue this trend people won't care when they actually release a game in other parts of the country.

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Gamer46
Tuesday, March 13, 2012 @ 8:49:10 AM
Reply

Aside from Nintendo's big first party games, Metal Gear Solid and the occassional strong effort from Capcom or Square-Enix (neither developer is near as prolific as they once were) I'd have to say Inafune is probably right. But things go in cycles. For a long time Western developers were looked at as laughing stocks, that's changed now. The Japanese developers will figure it out and get things turned around. And to be fair, I don't think it's just Japanese developers that are the problem, it's the North American and European gamers as well. Lets face it, if it's not a game with guns and online multiplayer, chances of success drop quite a bit no matter how good a game is.

Last edited by Gamer46 on 3/13/2012 8:53:03 AM

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Highlander
Tuesday, March 13, 2012 @ 9:36:37 AM
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Inafune-san appears to be more a part of the problem than a part of the solution - to me. I mean, whatever the problems that the Japanese industry faces, one of the biggest is the inability to be satisfied with who and what they are. Globalizing and/or westernizing their games is a failed strategy. Japanese games of the past were popular because of their differences, not despite them. This insane drive to homogenize Japanese games and aesthetic our of existence is more of a problem than anything else. Inafune-san seems to me to be a major part of the problem since he appears to be unwilling, or unable to celebrate that which makes Japanese games Japanese. Instead he berates his colleagues and whines about problems are are not really problems.

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JCARROLL
Tuesday, March 13, 2012 @ 10:17:39 AM
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Some of my favourite and, in my opinion, the best games this generation have been developed in Japan. For example, Metal Gear Solid 4, Vanquish, Bayonetta, Gran Turismo, Street Fighter and the Ninja Gaiden series are fantastic. There are countless other highly rated games that I haven't had the chance to play that have come out of Japan like Demon's Souls, Monster Hunter, Pokemon, The Legend of Zelda, Mario, Xenoblade Chronicles, Disgaea and Yakuza. However, the JRPG genre is arguably in it's poorest ever state, so I can see where he is coming from.

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Highlander
Tuesday, March 13, 2012 @ 10:20:02 AM

People say that, and yet, I am not 100% sure it is really so. Many JRPGs hae switched platform to handhelds, and trhive there. There have been JRPGs on the home consoles. Some with a more traditional style than others. However those games have not always received critical acclaim, despite receiving strong support from those that actually play them. I think that a lot of the issue around JRPGs this generation is perception rather than reality.

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JCARROLL
Tuesday, March 13, 2012 @ 10:51:08 AM

You're correct about JRPGs moving to handheld platforms. I'm sure there's plenty of quality titles on the PSP and DS but I don't own either so I haven't been exposed to them. I think the run of form that Square Enix is on is altering the perception of a lot of people towards the quality of Japanese games.

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Highlander
Tuesday, March 13, 2012 @ 12:55:51 PM

That's a great point, I agree. I think that the impact of the decline of SE is an overlooked factor in all of the perception of Japanese games in the West in particular.

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oldmike
Tuesday, March 13, 2012 @ 5:27:14 PM

i think part of it is the push for the cash they see in the 360

early in the 360 they had all the JRPGs but they did not sell well

the game makers saw that as the need to change the game before the 1st even hit the PS3

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JCARROLL
Tuesday, March 13, 2012 @ 6:01:49 PM

True. For example Final Fantasy XIII sold over twice as much on PS3 as 360 according to vgchartz.

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SS4
Friday, March 16, 2012 @ 8:55:30 AM
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I think that some Japanese game are still great but we don't get them released here because they are not western enough... So devs try to westernize their games which makes them crappy.
They have to stick to their own style and stop trying to cater to the CoD crowd...
Now the problem is that the way localization work is horrible. If the game are too japanese they don't get localize even if they are quality titles but if they are pale copy of westernized game they get localized and its hurting the Japanese scene...

Look at the Wii, it took forever but we are finally getting Xenoblade, The last Story and Pandora's Tower. It took them and eternity to understand and North America lost lots of sale because Europe was faster and ppl have imported the first 2 already...

Now localisation needs to evolve and the Japanese game scene needs to stay true to itself instead of westernizing.

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