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Mikami: Japanese Devs Need To Spend Hollywood-Like Money

We've heard this before: Japanese video game developers just aren't spending enough money to keep up.

The latest to make this statement is Shinji Mikami, the guy who has helped deliver everything from Resident Evil to Shadows of the Damned. In a new PSM3 interview (as cited by CVG), Mikami said these days, 80% of the games he plays are in fact not Japanese.

And while he did say that a statement like "Japanese games suck" (made by Fez developer Phil Fish) is a bit harsh, he added that Japanese designers are going to have to start shelling out the cash. He also admitted that "most gamers overseas aren't interested in anime," mentioning Okami as evidence of a great game that didn't sell: "Westerners obviously don't like that sort of game," he said. So in the end, he believes Japan needs to approach gaming the way Hollywood approaches movies.

"Hollywood spends like 200 million dollars producing a movie, and you can make an incredible movie with that sort of money. But Japanese movie studios don't spend anything like that. The difference in [the] scale of the budgets [is] the same in games. Japan needs to make games like Hollywood makes movies. I think Capcom and Hideo Kojima's team are trying hard on that front.

I hope Japanese developers can take this hobby that we originally propagated and once more offer something special to the world."

Although Mikami saying that Western gamers maybe want something "a little more straightforward" (in reference to Okami) sounds a little insulting in my years, I have to admit it also sounds accurate. It's unfortunate, but true. It's why Call of Duty reigns supreme. As for spending more money on their games...yes. I think that much is obvious; the vast majority of Japanese productions from this generation just don't have that same level of polish and refinement we see in the best Western titles.

Tags: japanese games, gaming industry, video games, shinji mikami

7/10/2012 9:31:03 AM Ben Dutka

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Comments (17 posts)

Kiryu
Tuesday, July 10, 2012 @ 10:06:36 AM
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Yakuza Team,every game from them is highly polished and big budget.

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Amnesiac
Tuesday, July 10, 2012 @ 10:18:15 AM
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Shouldn't it be about ideas first?
Some of the best Japanese games I've ever played were based on originality.
Okami is a bad example because it is a fun game, but was released before most consoles allowed motion control gaming.
The Wii helped inspire some new designs to the atypical game experience, but fell short a few years ago as they lost focus trying to compete with the Ps3 and Xbox 360.
So what stops the Ps3 MOVE from being the new corner stone in motion control gaming?
Well just ask this guy who's convinced that "westerners" just want some slopped together garbage that tanks faster then BATTLESHIP did in the box office.
No it doesn't matter how much money you throw towards a dull & boring game- Shinji Mikami
it will still be a dull and boring game I won't want to play.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, July 10, 2012 @ 10:28:54 AM
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More money yes, Hollywood no, ditching anime as a design medium NOOOOOOOO!

*grumble* I really hate being pushed to the margins of gaming society by a bunch of kids.

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Rogueagent01
Tuesday, July 10, 2012 @ 10:48:09 AM
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Us westerners may not make a anime style game sell 10 million copies, however that doesn't mean we don't like them. He is crazy thinking and making a comment like that.

And World nailed it with that sentence,

"More money yes, Hollywood no, ditching anime as a design medium NOOOOOOOO!"

DO NOT copy Hollywood, not unless you really want to kill japanese development altogether.

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Highlander
Tuesday, July 10, 2012 @ 3:00:03 PM

I think that everyone is losing perspective thanks to the mega-bucks involved with CoD and similar games.

It seems that titles that don't sell 1 million copies are considered abject failures. Yet look at games like the Atelier, Persona and Disgea series. They will never compete in the CoD market, but they remain healthy and profitable and thoroughly anime styled and influences. they need to stop before they lose site of the fact that anime fans do spend money, quite freely.

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Deathb4Dishonor
Tuesday, July 10, 2012 @ 11:04:15 AM
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Persona does pretty good and it's sorta cartoonish... I think titles like these would fair better on th Vita... As much as i would like them on PS3 i think they would do better on handhelds like the Vita or PSP on terms of sales

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WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, July 10, 2012 @ 11:31:24 AM
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Mikami should play Catherine and then look at those unexpected sales numbers.

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DrRockso87
Tuesday, July 10, 2012 @ 12:19:52 PM

Demon's Souls as well.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, July 10, 2012 @ 12:39:06 PM

I was alluding to the anime but sure why not?

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Ignitus
Tuesday, July 10, 2012 @ 12:46:01 PM
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I really enjoyed Vanquish(PS3) and Bayonetta(Xbox360). I also liked all the Tecmo games of the Itagaki era.

The Japanesse can make really good games when they want.

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gumbi
Tuesday, July 10, 2012 @ 2:42:13 PM
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"most gamers overseas aren't interested in anime," It pains me that there's truth in this statement... sigh.

My opinion though: Bigger budgets are not the answer to Japanese Developers problems. Japanese games have always been more popular in Japan, with a decent Western following. But now, out of greed and delusions of grandeur, they're trying to shift their focus and cater more to Westerners hoping for CoD like results. The problem is they're not very good at it, and they're alienating an entire fan base in the process.

Time to re-focus. Spending a ton of money trying to develop a game that focuses on a market you don't understand is a recipe for disaster. Better to spend a modest budget developing a game that focuses on a market you've mastered. Then consider any outside interest a bonus.

Your games don't have to sell like Call of Duty to be successful.

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Highlander
Tuesday, July 10, 2012 @ 2:54:46 PM
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Sorry, but I beg to differ.

There is a high correlation between video game players and anime fans. The proportion of anime fans that play games is extremely high. The fact that gaming as a market is so large now means that a niche interest in the west - such as anime - will obviously only include a minority of gamers. It could never be any other way.

However, anime fans spend lots on their anime and figures and games. They have money to spend and are typically willing to spend it. Look at the way that NIS America can sell out their premium versions of things like the Atelier games.

The problem I see is less that Japanese developers do not spend huge sums of money on their games. The problem I see is that their games are not developed with easy localization in mind. Any game, whether it be a JRPG, one of their innumerable dating sims, or something like the Vocaloids or Idolmaster games, should be built to allow an easy text only localization for distribution in the west. In fact given the actual size of the anime market in the US and elsewhere it would be work Japanes developer's time including the English translation with their game so that westerners can import the game and play it. I mean, in many cases these games are never going to see a western release, but the inclusion of an English text option in the games would open up a large import market for Japanese games.

The thing we never see here is the huge number of games by smaller devs that never, ever, see the light of day here. All we ever hear about are the high profile titles from major Japanese publishers/developers. If they want to spend huge on big blockbusters, that's fine, but I think they need to stop generalizing about the game industry in Japan. the developers of the smaller, more Japanese focused games are never going to spend like that, and it would be a huge waste if they did.

To me a lot of it comes down to this. There are very many gamers and anime fans that would be quite happy to have the Japanese versions of games and anime with English subtitles & menus. Compared to the audience of a game like Call of Duty however that audience is very small. But then, that's true of so many other games and genre too.

Last edited by Highlander on 7/10/2012 2:57:16 PM

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WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, July 10, 2012 @ 3:43:11 PM

I would definitely become an importer if they just made their games with English text or voice options. A lot of Japanese speak the language so I think the minor extra cost of making the game that way in the first place would certainly pay for itself and then some.

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Highlander
Tuesday, July 10, 2012 @ 4:33:15 PM

Indeed, and although some will learn Japanese to play their favorite kind of game/watch their favorite anime as originally aired, most will not. So it would really be a good idea to include a straight up translation of the game/anime in subtitles and English menus.

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BikerSaint
Tuesday, July 10, 2012 @ 8:16:39 PM
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I think that's why "Monkey Paw Games" localizing service is more important than ever.

They've stated quite a few times they're more than willing to localize any Japanese developers game, to help bring it over to the West too.

Last edited by BikerSaint on 7/10/2012 8:17:08 PM

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shadowpal2
Tuesday, July 10, 2012 @ 9:57:47 PM
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As a person who loves film...I can't say how FUCKING WRONG THAT STATEMENT HAS TO BE. HIGH BUDGET is THE ONLY PATH TO A GREAT MOVIE?!

Are you kidding me?!

And what Japanese films aren't good?! So this guy prefers to see a bunch of explosions with camera turning around 360, planes flying into the sunset...BS repetitive cliche - Michael Bay fan - got the picture.

There are fantastic japanese films which didn't have much of a budget.

Confessions?
Memories of Matsuko?
Love Exposure?
BATTLE ROYALE?!

IT'S THE IDEAS THAT GO INTO MAKING A FILM/GAME - which make it amazing. If the idea can't be fulfilled with the current budget - then of course it's certainly understandable as to why one would require a greater budget.

BUT HOW ABOUT YOU ACTUALLY PRESENT THE IDEAS!! Then money will come.

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___________
Wednesday, July 11, 2012 @ 6:13:26 AM
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westerners obviously dont like anime?
really?
congrats bud you just made yourself look like a complete moron!
anime is freaking huge everywhere, not only in asia!

where they do need larger budgets, it certainly is not going to do jack sh*t until they get it through their thick heads that not everyone should be making the same game!
japanese games are going down the crapper not because of low budgets, but because their refusal of doing something different!
the whole industry is turning into a me too train and to be frank its driving me up the wall!
were a inch away from having NOTHING but COD and gears wannabe, every other genre will disappear off the face of the planet!

like how crapcom say RE is too big for survival horror.
how do you know?
there in the mind set that no one wants these types of games, but how do they know if they dont release it for crying out loud!?
another thing just because a game does not sell well does not mean no one wants it!
if japanese developers stopped trying to be infinity ward and bungie, and started making games that you use to expect from that area of the world, than they would be in a very different position!

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