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Inafune: Japanese Developers "Still Don't Really Get It"

Former Capcom boss and Comcept founder Keiji Inafune has always spoken his mind. And when it comes to the subject of the lagging Japanese video game market, he's always candid and even brutal.

During a recent IGN interview, Inafune said that on the plus side, Japanese developers are starting to recognize the problem, but there's still a ways to go. He said they realize they have to learn from the western market, but "they don't know what to do or how to do it." This has been an issue from the moment Japanese game makers began attempting to appeal specifically to the continually expanding Western audience.

So is it a lack of talent or understanding? In fact, Inafune argues that it's more about pride:

"Even worse, their pride gets in the way, preventing them from learning from overseas developers. As a result, they end up staying in the domestic market rather than going global."

In recent years, some Japanese publishers have sought Western assistance, even for the biggest and most iconic franchises. For instance, Capcom turned to Slant Six for Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, and opted to let Ninja Theory produce the Devil May Cry reboot. As for whether or not Japanese designers truly understand what's necessary in the near future, Inafune says it's just "wishful thinking."

"So we much appreciate the fact that the world is concerned, however, [Japanese developers] still don’t really get it. Some developers are saying [the] Japanese game industry is still doing fine, but that's wishful thinking. Words are not enough, we must act and prove it. Unless at least a few titles from Japan make it to the top 10 games of the year worldwide, we won’t prove it."

He does have a point. But what can Japanese developers do to return to their former glory? Perhaps nothing; the industry is a very different place these days, after all...

Tags: japanese games, gaming industry, keiji inafune

4/3/2013 9:12:24 PM Ben Dutka

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Legacy Comment System (18 posts)

Wednesday, April 03, 2013 @ 11:14:30 PM

Return to their roots, return to the glory days that made them international successes.

Why, why why why! Can't ANYONE over there realise this?!

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Thursday, April 04, 2013 @ 1:19:57 AM

My impression from standing on the outside looking in is that they indeed has tried so, several times recent years, only on small screens.

There's been a rather large amount of turn-based, classic Japanese anime style RPGs released for mobile platforms in recent years, it's by far the most common style of RPG on mobiles/tablets.

Furthermore I can't recall any other comparable product where the answer was to return to former ways of doing things. So I'm not so sure if that is the answer - I'm afraid that would rather distance themselves further from the market they want to be a part of.

Last edited by Beamboom on 4/4/2013 1:24:44 AM

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Thursday, April 04, 2013 @ 4:03:00 AM

In these days and age, by returning to their roots may be a double-edged sword.
It could either restore their former glory or just destroy them.

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Thursday, April 04, 2013 @ 3:57:20 AM

I don't think returning to their roots would do much. JRPG's are now a niche market. They have to evolve/adapt and innovate to the changing market. We all have fond memories of companies like Square, but at that time, jrpg's were very popular. Similar to how FPS are popular now. I wouldn't be surprised if we saw an Oblivian style Final Fantasy game. Could be great if done right.

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Thursday, April 04, 2013 @ 9:41:36 AM

what can they do to return to their former glory?
thats easy!
realize just because COD is the best selling franchise of all time, does not mean every game has to be a shooter, and not every game has to be westernized!
when they realize there is still lots of people who want the same games they were producing 10 years ago, when they realize that not everything has to be westernized, then they will go back to their successful days!
but that will never happen because there just too god dam greedy, and stubborn!

im really praying RE revelations will outsell RE6 just in hopes it will be a wake up call for crapcom and they will realize sh*t, people DO still want the RE of old!
but fat chance, ay?
there far more likely to conjure up some stupid BS excuse to explain the higher sales, completely ignoring the fact that is in their face!
the fact that a survival horror RE, and a spin off at that, sold better than a full fledged sequel action gears of war wannabee!

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Thursday, April 04, 2013 @ 11:09:09 AM

Hes not only an idiot. Hes a joke. He made a MH rip off, a ninja gaiden rip off.

Thats it

sales=quality to him?

hes a fool

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Thursday, April 04, 2013 @ 11:09:53 AM

Ben he has 0 point. Japanese games are the most innovate period

sales dont equal quality, that is his point hes a fool

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Thursday, April 04, 2013 @ 11:34:31 AM

The hell?

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Thursday, April 04, 2013 @ 11:44:55 AM

Uh...innovation isn't exactly the Japanese's strong suit right now.

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Thursday, April 04, 2013 @ 2:41:57 PM

This might get entertaining. :)
What titles do you believe best represent Japanese innovation in recent years, Stealth? And what western games do you compare them with?

Last edited by Beamboom on 4/4/2013 2:42:31 PM

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Saturday, April 06, 2013 @ 3:24:26 AM

Yeah. I don't know where he is coming from. He's from Capcom? The company that put out the same lo res Street Fighter game for years with zero innovation? Maybe he's talking about them. I agree that sales do not equal quality. ICO wasn't a mega hit but it was a work of art. Make the game that you or you and your friends would want to play. Don't "westernize" it whatever that means. Maybe I should read that interview...

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Thursday, April 04, 2013 @ 11:19:47 AM

most of these days i just think he's talking to himself
even though i still wish he were at capcom would serve better

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Thursday, April 04, 2013 @ 11:32:23 AM

Japanese games are failing because they are trying to westernize certain genres that shouldn't be westernized.

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Comic Shaman
Thursday, April 04, 2013 @ 11:53:34 AM

"Westernizing," from what I've seen, is mostly about copying the superficial design elements or mechanics of Western games. You end up with second-rate stuff.

Don't pander, damn it. Never pander.

There's a difference between learning from what others have done and trying to imitate them... and Japanese developers have been leaning too heavily on imitation. The scramble to match the success of Western franchises has obscured the understanding of what made Japanese games great to begin with, and you end up with hodge-podge efforts like RE6.

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Thursday, April 04, 2013 @ 1:58:12 PM

What made me fall in love with Squaresoft and Final Fantasy (I started at FF8) was the beautiful cut scenes that intergrated the story to the player. The stories were great, almost novel like. (in the sense that with a good novel you keep reading always wanting to know whats next.) I couldnt wait to get to the next point when a cutscene would fire and I'd be left speechless.

MGS was the story. It was entertaining and different. I wanted Snake to triumph, wanted him to save Merryl. The controls were somewhat clunky but it worked in the concept that was being portrayed.

Now its almost like the concept is constant action, the action pushing the story instead of the other way around. I'll be honest, I rented the "Lightning" Final Fantasy games. It wasnt my cup of tea, didnt grab me like the old ones, but it was decent in it's own right. (Like trying to compare Gene Wilder's Willy Wonka with Johnny Depp's Willy Wonka. They are totally different and if looked at that way, then they both stand on their own.)

I say the problem with Japanese developers are their terrible expectations. They are trying to make COD dollars with Tomb Raider or Final Fantasy. It just doesnt work like that. So they are confused it seems, with how to move foward.

Last edited by wackazoa on 4/4/2013 1:58:51 PM

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Friday, April 05, 2013 @ 8:41:00 AM

The best approach would be to stick with those crucial elements that made them succeed whilst being innovative enough to accomodate western audiences by adding few elements that would appeal.
The idea should be to set a benchmark the entire industry can adopt as standard, as opposed to emulating western developers. Take MGS4, it combined everything traditional about the franchise whilst adopting features nearly all western shooters have, eg a reticule and rotatable camera. Someone new to the title can easily relate to the norm of aiming and looking around whilst being wowed by hiding under cardboxes and such.

In certain cases, such as JRPGs... remaining "Japanese" just works for me.

I think it depends on the genre in question.

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Sunday, April 07, 2013 @ 5:02:14 PM

They have to believe in their work, back to roots, stop trying to appeal to westerns and create the games in their own and unique way with Japanese OST (the OST part it's just me lol) for square enix FFX for PS3 and Vita will show them what we always wanted from them.

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013 @ 3:30:19 AM

Personally, I don't think Japanese developers are more innovative but they certainly are more creative and artistic when it comes to their games; they definitely put more work into that area.

Western devs focus on tech and realistic immersion but forgo story and gameplay, that is why we see many redundant and somewhat boring gameplay with hit-or-miss stories and leave multiplayer as the main attraction.

To back my theory, these games excel in artistic and/or creative quality: Shadow of the Colossus, Viewtiful Joe, Okami, Odin Sphere, Valkyrie Profile: Silmeria, Folklore, Lost Odyssey, Ni No Kuni, etc. Notice how there are no current games sub Ni No Kuni?

Oh, and I think Japanese devs should stop trying to "Westernize" genres that don't fit their makeup. We call them JRPG and Western RPG for a reason. Elder Scrolls and Fallout never strayed from their formula and look where they're at...

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