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Inafune Explains Why "Japan Can't Win"

Former Capcom boss and Comcept founder Keiji Inafune hasn't exactly been soft-spoken in his ultra-bold statements concerning the lagging Japanese game industry.

And in speaking to Wired, Inafune has once again issued a series of bold statements, evidently in the hope that Japanese designers will wake up and smell the coffee.

"You should tell the truth about Japanese games not being what they used to be. Unless they get that criticism, Japanese game creators are just sitting on the glories of the past. They won't get the message that the Western audience is turning its back on us."

That last bit could be interpreted in a number of different ways. Perhaps the Western gamers are only "turning their backs" because the quality from Japan hasn't been up to snuff. Or maybe it just means that with far more Western influences, gamers are more likely to flock to products that reflect more of their own culture. But the most interesting part was when Inafune claimed that Japanese developers are actually in a big ol' state of denial:

"Right now, Japan believes that other Asian games, and American games, aren't as good as theirs. But across the world, American games are the best-selling and considered the most fun. But Japan's gamers and game creators still won't accept this. This is why Japan can't win."

He went on to say that the only answer is for Japan to admit they've fallen behind and "when they're embarrassed and feel obliged to change," that might make all the difference in the world. He also suggests working more closely with Western game makers. Finally, he added:

"It's impossible for Japan to win with just Japanese power. Everybody in Japan should work with foreign developers. Not just paying them money and letting them make whatever they think is good, but really working together, coming up with new ideas together and discussing how to make something brand new. That would result in a chemical reaction in a good way. There's no way that Japan can be on their own anymore."

Doesn't get much stronger than that.

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

4/12/2012 9:24:17 PM Ben Dutka

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Comments (21 posts)

TheDarkoutkast
Thursday, April 12, 2012 @ 10:04:10 PM
Reply

Blah blah blah western games -_-. Look the only reason they are not doing well is, because they spend soo much time trying to be more "western". They are like those kids trying to fit in by pretending to be cool or like everyone else, just go back to being Japanese. I don't want to DLC just to get the whole story of a game *cough* square Enix *cough* and I rest my case >.>. Also don't try making shooters we have enough of those thanks ^^.

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GuyverLT
Thursday, April 12, 2012 @ 10:10:17 PM
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"Not just paying them money and letting them make whatever they think is good, but really working together, coming up with new ideas together and discussing how to make something brand new."

LOL Capcom and Ninja Theory and the new DmC comes into mind when he says this also this seems very true about Capcom and Slant Six relationship during the RE:ORC game.

Still like the new DmC though and that new trailer has me even more excited.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HsHtFcDyjTU

Last edited by GuyverLT on 4/12/2012 10:26:34 PM

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Highlander
Thursday, April 12, 2012 @ 11:02:52 PM
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"They won't get the message that the Western audience is turning its back on us."

Oddly enough, I think the problem is that the Japanese devs and publishers are turning their backs on us in an effort to chase the larger mass market that's too busy blowing each other away in CoD to notice.

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Dancemachine55
Friday, April 13, 2012 @ 12:03:32 AM

So true Highlander, so very true.

Japan has fallen because they have shifted their focus from making games for core fans to making games for casual CoD lovers, therefore abandoning their intial fanbase.

If you observe the most popular games from Japan, eg Mario, Zelda, Gran Turismo, Metal Gear Solid, Xenoblade Chronicles... you will notice that ALL of these games do not try to cater to casual CoD fans, they cater to the core fans with challenging gameplay, deep stories and brilliant characters. (Or in GT5's case, more features and better realistic handling)

If Japanese developers stop trying to dumb down their games for the CoD fans, they won't be in this mess any longer.

Also, I'm sure it wouldn't hurt for them to take a few cues from Epic Games, Naughty Dog, Ubisoft Montreal or even Bioware in terms of game design, polish and how to make a high quality game in less than 3 years. (I'm looking at you Square Enix and FF Vs XIII!!!)

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Highlander
Friday, April 13, 2012 @ 10:08:10 AM

Indeed. As I have long said, instead of chasing gamers that do *NOT* like Japanese style games, they should be sticking to what they know best and making the best damned games possible in their own style/genre/manner. As it is they are losing the fans and customers they had, and are not really gaining the audience they appear to be shooting for. Then along come Inafune and Itagaki, both of whom think that bad mouthing Japanese developers is the way forwards. I've never found badmouthing people to be a particularly good motivational tool.

The answer here is not to westernize the games, it's not to add guns to everything and it's not simply to throw some graphical gloss on the games. The answer is simple go back to making your games, your way, without worrying about catering to a particular market or demographic in NA. Make the best damn game you can. That's what made Japanese games popular, not somehow catering to shooter fans.

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xenris
Thursday, April 12, 2012 @ 11:14:45 PM
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Dark Souls, Demon Souls, Xenoblade, The Last Story, Binary Domain, White Knight Chronicles, Ni No Kuni.

These games feel VERY japanese to me, and they are all amazing amazing games.

To me the problem is Japanese devs trying to score a market that quite frankly just wants more of the same every year.

There are millions of fans who grew up on the PSX and PS2 and want the great japanese styled games they grew up with. But apparently they are too dense to realize this.

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Dancemachine55
Friday, April 13, 2012 @ 12:14:35 AM
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If most Japanese devs stop chasing US dollar signs and look at making games from the heart (like Ni No Kuni, Demon's Souls, Lost Odyssey, Gran Turismo) they would no longer be in this mess.

As for established franchises, the Japanese publishers (not developers) should listen to the fans who have been with them the whole time. Turning your back on your fans and chasing the CoD fans will only end in disaster, because CoD fans are only interested in one thing.... guess what it is!

Here are some things Japanese devs could do to win back the Western crowd...

1. Stop dumbing down your franchises in an attempt to catch the CoD crowd, it won't work!! Square Enix are the worst offenders in this category.

2. Embrace Japanese culture and art, play to your strengths and the Westerners will respond. Simply look at Ni No Kuni and Xenoblade Chronicles.

3. If you want to make a big AAA title, ask for advice from places like Naughty Dog or Bioware, or even Epic Games who are masters of AAA games at this present time. They will be more than glad to help, really!!


If ALL Japanese devs follow these guidelines, I feel Japan could make a real comeback in the games industry. They just need to stop beating themselves up about it and actually DO IT!!

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Fane1024
Friday, April 13, 2012 @ 6:24:18 AM

I do agree with you, but I also think Western fans of Japanese games (particularly JRPG fans) over-estimate the size of the market for such games and therefore their viability as moneymakers.

Of course, the solution to that problem is for Japanese publishers to publish moneymaker games *in addition to* their niche-y Japanese-developed products (see SE's acquisition of Eidos).

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Highlander
Friday, April 13, 2012 @ 10:18:47 AM

Fane,

The JRPG audience in the west isn't as big as in Japan, obviously, but it is there, and it's grown year on year in population. The trouble is that localization costs spiral when games are fully localized because not only is there voice work to dub the games, they do all the translation and re-working of things to fit the west. It's not a straight up Japanese to English transfer. A lot of dialog and even whole scenes can be re-written for the western audience. That all costs money, which makes games less viable. However, take a game that sells 1 million copies in Japan. Let's say that the original game budget was $5-10 million. If the game sells 20% of that total in the west that's still 200,000 copies. If most are sold at full retail, that's coming close to $5million in straight revenue to the publisher to cover costs and generate profit. If it costs $1 million to localize the game, there is still a lot of money on the table.

Even games that do poorly in sales still generate this kind of income. WKC2 has sold more than 200,000 copies in the West which is something like 40-50% of the sales in Japan. That represents a significant chunk of the revenue for that game and certainly covers the localization costs.

To me though, it would actually be better for games to stick with the original Japanese script and voice work, but offer English menus and text. The cost of such a localization is a fraction of the fully voiced localization, and yet it would appeal to all of the same players that make up that JRPG audience.

I think this is true of other games as well. I played Vanguish through with the Japanese audio. I loved it. All the text was English, the game was still awesome, I knew what was going on thanks to the subtitles. It's not just JRPGs that could benefit.

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Fane1024
Saturday, April 14, 2012 @ 2:40:59 AM

Oh, there's definitely a market for "Japanese" games in the West, one which was inexcusably ignored on PS3 for many years.

700,000 units worldwide is pretty good and certainly enough to warrant making the game, break-even or not, but it's not blockbuster sales either. And WKC is at the successful end of the spectrum.

I'm very much in favor of these games being made, even if I don't buy them. I just don't think that the Japanese companies would *definitely* be financially viable in today's market by *only* producing "authentic" games.

Still, I'd rather they try that and fail than whatever they've been doing lately. At least *someone* would be happy with their games.

As I said elsewhere, I favor what happened with MGS4: Western participation (Ryan Payton) resulting in an evolution of the series without it losing its soul. That's what Beamboom and I are advocating.

Last edited by Fane1024 on 4/14/2012 2:48:37 AM

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BikerSaint
Friday, April 13, 2012 @ 1:01:18 AM
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Japan needs to keep their own originality.

Case in point.....games such as Okami, & the Vita game...Sumioni: Demon Arts

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Dancemachine55
Friday, April 13, 2012 @ 8:09:59 AM

I LOVED Okami!!!

One of the best games from the PS2 era I ever played next to Shadow of the Colossus.

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___________
Friday, April 13, 2012 @ 6:04:16 AM
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seriously what bubble is this guy living in!?

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Fane1024
Friday, April 13, 2012 @ 6:27:26 AM

Who? Inafune?

WTF?

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___________
Friday, April 13, 2012 @ 10:29:37 AM

no, Santa Claus!

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wackazoa
Friday, April 13, 2012 @ 11:42:35 AM
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Im wondering if Mr.Inafune is more interested in being the guy who is "getting his name in the papers" or a guy trying to solve the problem.

I dont disagree with him but, he seems to do a interview bashing the Japanese development topic every other week. After awhile it's like "Hey dude, stop talking and start doing" you know ?

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Highlander
Friday, April 13, 2012 @ 12:34:16 PM

what's the line from the movie? You're either part of the solution or part of the problem. Hey, Inafune-san, quit being part of the problem.

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stealth20k
Friday, April 13, 2012 @ 1:12:08 PM
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I am happy most media outlets didnt pick this up. Its really just sad at this point.

Saying how you feel if fine, but this is like his 10th time with this shtic, and thats really all it is


Inafune is a bias, hypocritical, jerk. Thats really what it comes down to.

The first thing inafune needs to do before he speaks again, if finish his japanese 3ds rpg......really.......thats it.....be a game creator, not a shit stirrer

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stealth20k
Friday, April 13, 2012 @ 1:13:07 PM
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Want to know what the real funny thing is?

The interviewer said he still loves japanese games and inafune just ignored him and continued on with his tirade

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stealth20k
Friday, April 13, 2012 @ 1:16:25 PM
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The funny thing is he refuses to work with western devs, hes making a very niche japanese rpg on the 3ds, his favorite company is idea factory........

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Temjin001
Friday, April 13, 2012 @ 9:24:59 PM
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I'm still trying to figure out how Famitsu gave NG3 four 9's. That's 4 dudes agreeing the game is amazing.

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