Square-Enix: "We Look More To Player Preferences"
There was a time when any game designed by a Western developer was met with skepticism by the knowledgeable gaming crowd. But these days, some see it in almost a reverse light and even Japan's biggest developers have admitted they're lagging - in some respects - behind their Western counterparts.
This is why you're seeing a definite "Western push;" a concerted effort by the aforementioned studios to create games that will appeal to a wider audience. It's well known that Japanese titles tend to have a different artistic flair to them, and some designers have tried to sacrifice this tradition and instead of making something that looks like a JRPG on the PS1, they opt for a Gears of War style. However, despite what you may think, Square-Enix says that while they're certainly trying to appeal to the mass worldwide market (their new studio just opened in LA), they're actually not going out of their way to make a game with Western influences in mind. According to what Final Fantasy: The Crystal Bearers producer Akitoshi Kawazu told Destructoid, they don't separate the target audiences into "West" and "East." Said Kawazu:
"The presence of Japanese games is not as strong within the international market these days, and as a business that creates and sells games, the reception in the Western market is naturally a point of interest to us. However, when developing a game we do not separate our target audience into categories like 'Japanese' or 'Western.'
We look more to player preferences, such as those who like higher difficulty levels, those who enjoy more of a collection element, those who look for more freedom in a game, those who like to have set objectives, and so forth. I do feel that one major difference in the Japanese and Western gamers’ preferences lies in the art style."
In other words, it seems they only want to incorporate new gameplay aspects in order to appeal to more gamers outside Japan. These elements aren't "new" by modern-day standards but most are new to the Japanese market, and some have yet to be embraced in the East. There will always be differences in terms of preference, simply due to the inherent cultural differences, but Square-Enix isn't as concerned with that; they just want to make games that everyone will enjoy. Really, that's the goal of all developers these days.
12/29/2009 10:30:50 AM Ben Dutka