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Itagaki On Gaming In Japan And Being A "True Japanese"

Perhaps the best rant on the state of the Japanese gaming industry to date has been made by Metal Gear Solid guru Hideo Kojima.

But it seems like every Japanese head honcho in the biz has something to say about the flagging gaming environment in the East, and the latest is Tomonobu Itagaki, Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive mastermind who is currently working with THQ to bring Devil's Third to life. Itagaki not only believes Japanese gaming is "dying," he also says all of Japan's rapid industrial growth has come to a screeching halt due to the government's poor investment decisions. This all came out in vivid detail during a recent Edge interview, where Itagaki says "Japan failed to import capitalism or rather, it failed to understand the lessons of capitalism, of a free market economy." When asked if Japan was rising in power between the '60s and '90s, Itagaki replied:

"Yes. They were doing great. But in the years they were doing great, they had to prepare things. The infrastructure, education, the things you need to do to continue to be that way. But the older generation failed to do that. But don’t think I trust those people who are trying to change things now. It’s not a good idea to trust people who are yelling things have to change. They’re salesmen, just salesmen with something to sell."

He calls himself a "true Japanese," and it appears he's actually interested in becoming a political leader in his country. The man has never had an ego problem - he calls himself one of the top three smartest guys in the gaming industry - but that might be exactly what Japan needs. When asked if he was willing to run for office, the answer was: "Yes. There have been some offers for me to become a political candidate in Japan, and we do need a strong leader."

Well, okay. ...could you do us all a favor, though, and make sure all your secretaries and campaign managers look exactly like the girls in DoA? We'd so become Japanese citizens just to vote for ya.

Tags: itagaki, devils third, devil''''''''s third, game industry

8/10/2010 10:36:16 AM Ben Dutka

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Comments (28 posts)

Temjin001
Tuesday, August 10, 2010 @ 10:59:38 AM
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If Itagaki-san goes into politics, wouldn't that mean he'd stop developing games?

I wouldn't like that.

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Highlander
Tuesday, August 10, 2010 @ 11:10:40 AM
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Wait, did you just say that Itagaki has never had an ego problem?

(>_<)

Really? I mean...really?

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WolfCrimson
Tuesday, August 10, 2010 @ 11:17:27 AM

Yeah, like, isn't he the guy who dissed Bayonetta for no reason?

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Vivi_Gamer
Tuesday, August 10, 2010 @ 1:22:53 PM

I don't approve of this man.

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Temjin001
Tuesday, August 10, 2010 @ 1:25:58 PM

I don't think he bashed on Bayonetta. Though, he did bash on DMC (same creator as Bayonetta), Heavenly Sword and Tekken. In fact, he has so much disdain for Tekken he can't engage in a conversation where Tekken is included.

I haven't ever been able to understand why he hates on Tekken. My suspicion is that he has angst against Tekken because it gobbled up a ton of the fighting market. It was his largest competitor. I suspect that he decided to move DOA onto Xbox, where Tekken doesn't exist, so he could perhaps grow his own culture of fighting gamer on XBox.

Seeing that DOA didn't really make a huge splash on Xbox exclusively (except for DOA XBV pun intended), I believe DOA will return to being a multi-platform series.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Tuesday, August 10, 2010 @ 2:26:02 PM

I meant, he doesn't have a problem with having a high ego; a high opinion of himself. I.e., he doesn't exactly suffer from low self-esteem. :)

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Highlander
Tuesday, August 10, 2010 @ 3:20:31 PM

Gotcha, I totally mis-read it in the opposite direction. Apologies.

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Nynja
Tuesday, August 10, 2010 @ 3:40:34 PM

I took it as sarcasm.

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Highlander
Tuesday, August 10, 2010 @ 3:56:52 PM

I should have too, and utterly missed it. Either I'm losing it, or I was reading too fast.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, August 10, 2010 @ 6:39:45 PM

but bayonetta sucked

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Temjin001
Tuesday, August 10, 2010 @ 7:17:42 PM

World, you just love pushing that Bayonetta button, don't you?

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LegendaryWolfeh
Tuesday, August 10, 2010 @ 8:47:38 PM

Bayonetta on ps3, DID suck. And i've always been rubbed the wrong way by Itagaki and I'd probably feel worse for japanese people if he did go into politics for him, I'd rather have Kojima as president instead, LOL

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Xombito
Tuesday, August 10, 2010 @ 11:26:15 AM
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Unless the developers dissed his game. That usually gets him to dissed other devs games.

Last edited by Xombito on 8/10/2010 11:26:36 AM

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RebelJD
Tuesday, August 10, 2010 @ 12:42:35 PM
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Itagaki sounds super cool. He should team up with Kojima and create their own gaming company.

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JackC8
Tuesday, August 10, 2010 @ 12:43:25 PM
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The problems I see in some Japanese games (not that I'm any sort of an expert) is that the gameplay has some major issues. Not a programming problem, but a design problem. I don't quite see how the government could be at fault, but I guess if you've got political aspirations, you can find a connection there :)

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kraygen
Tuesday, August 10, 2010 @ 12:52:11 PM
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I don't disagree with what he's saying, but how is that responsible for japanese devs making their games crappy.

Maybe if they want to make good games they should give up the politics, forget what "western" gamers want and just start making visionary masterpieces the way you want them, so we can enjoy them.

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Highlander
Tuesday, August 10, 2010 @ 1:33:13 PM

I honestly think that we - mankind - try to hard to be all things to all people. I like the differences in cultures between countries, or even regions or states within a country. I don't want everything to be the same. That drive or desire to make everything 'samey' and appealing to everyone is a destructive influence. Whether it's an influence that causes creative individuals to create dull, broadly appealing works that lack the genius of something created for it's own sake, or the drive that causes some individuals to hate the differences they see in others, whether they be cultural, educational, color, gender, size, orientation, whatever. People are different the world over. We are all individuals and should revel in the things that make us unique.

Itagaki, Kojima, Wada, all three men, all three Japanese, and all three with different opinions all pointing to the same issue. The major, global, Japanese developers have an identity crisis. They are each, in their way, caught up in the agony of trying to make their own games, but somehow morph the game to fit western and Asian audiences.

But why did we western gamers attach ourselves to JRPGs and other Japanese games localized for the western market? Was it because they had been made for the western market, or was it because there was something there that we could not find in games developed outside Japan? I feel like part of the reason for the confusion and uncertainty among these major developers in Japan is that they are caught in a dilemma. Perhaps it would be easier for them to focus on their own market, make good games and then localize some for the west?

But there is so much money flowing from the west both in terms of revenue from game sales and from contracts with companies like Microsoft. So from a business point of view, there are reasons to pander to the western gamers instead of simply concentrating on making the best game possible for the core, home (Japanese) audience. Creatively though, I think that the developers would rather focus on creating the best game for their core fans, and worry about localizing afterward.

I would hope that someone like Itagaki would have the strength of personality and influence to stand firm and retain the creative freedom that made Japanese games among the most creative in the world.

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kraygen
Tuesday, August 10, 2010 @ 10:46:00 PM

I see the desire to try and pander to westerners. Money, they all want the money. But when you try to give everyone everything they want, you often give everyone something they don't want.

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DjEezzy
Tuesday, August 10, 2010 @ 1:19:33 PM
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I can see what he's saying. That his governement is keeping the gaming industry, and others, from growing. Don't know how valid his quote is though...

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Temjin001
Tuesday, August 10, 2010 @ 4:47:17 PM

Their legislature is called a Diet, after-all.
And Itagaki doesn't need to get anymore skinny =p

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Fatcat3788
Tuesday, August 10, 2010 @ 2:21:14 PM
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This guy's ego knows no bounds... Never had a self-esteem problem is more accurate cause his Ego is freaking ridiculous...

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Snaaaake
Tuesday, August 10, 2010 @ 2:28:16 PM
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True Japanese?

Says the guy who ditched the PS for Xbox.

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Scarecrow
Tuesday, August 10, 2010 @ 4:09:13 PM
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As a person I kinda like Itagaki. Sure he might diss other games/people too freely but it never gets to a personal level. So it's more of a freedom of speech/expression type of thing

His take on Japan's economy/government is actually interesting. Japan was growing fast in the 1980s-1990s. Now it seems like they're having problems.

On the gaming aspect, well his new game looks interesting. Not sure I like the style, but it's interesting, might check it out.

Japanese devs just need to stop thinking like they need to cater their games to westerners.

Quality is quality no matter who you cater to.

Sadly the gun revolution in gaming will probably prevent Japanese companies from selling as many copies as they would last gen and the gen before that.

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Highlander
Tuesday, August 10, 2010 @ 5:00:31 PM

Japan has been in a deflationary mire for years. It's not a good situation.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, August 10, 2010 @ 6:40:09 PM
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Let someone make a DOA5 mister man, that's all I want. And for PS3.

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Axe99
Tuesday, August 10, 2010 @ 7:02:48 PM
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Hmmmm....I've never understood the amount of respect given to Itagaki - granted, I've only played Ninja Gaiden and DoA4, but neither game struck me as particularly impressive or innovative. Solid enough, but no-one's listening to the lead designer/director of Transformers:War for Cybertron, which I'd rate as easily more accomplished from a design/gameplay perspective than those two.

So from my angle, and to paraphrase Hot Shots, his ego's writing cheques his intellect can't cash. His understanding of capitalism (and infrastructure!) for a start is horribly flawed. Japan has some of the best infrastructure in the world, and has invested (per capita, relative) far more into it in recent decades than the US and many European countries.

As for politics, I can't see someone as ego-driven and lacking in substance as Itagaki making a big splash, as in politics people like that are a dime-a-dozen.

Don't get me wrong, I don't hate Itagaki - but I definitely wouldn't use him as a role model, and if I had to put together a high-performing organisation, or produce an innovative game, he wouldn't be in my top 100 people to be on the team, let alone leading it.

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Temjin001
Tuesday, August 10, 2010 @ 8:07:25 PM

DOA and NG were his only most noteworthy entries. While DOA began as something of a VF2 spin off gone more girly the series progressed with it's sequel. DOA2 innovated in a direction that, previously, fighting fans could only imagine. Large interactive environments were only being flirted with, at the time, by VF3 (removed from future installments). While the the series lost it's arcade presence after DOA2, it managed to still cultivate a small but dedicated fan base who defended it's position as being more than just a button-mashing friendly game that placed too much emphasis on counter-holds. So much so, that a group on Gamefaqs about 10 years ago, or so, conglomerated in on message boards, intense discussions (that I was apart of) eventually led to a dedicated DOA website, named DOACentral. The two site founders, Dahlsim and VirtuaPai, helped bring the series into the hardcore fighting scene. While the two founders have just recently retired from DOACentral, the torch had been passed onto DOA4 world champion "Master."
To this day, DOA4 is still the pinnacle of environmental interaction and complex stage design. It's also noteworthy that no other fighter moves as fluidly in motion as DOA4 does.

Ninja Gaiden was a major step forward for the 3rd person action-hack 'n slash genre. At that time, DMC, Rygar, and 3D Castlevania were all that really defined the genre. Itagaki's experience designing fighting games really paid off because it's evident that the tactical details in play surpassed those of any other games in a like genre. NG was unique to others because the game demanded that you understood the combat. The game would be criticized for being too hard. This wasn't hard as in cheap, poorly designed, no, it was only as hard as a player's inexperience made it. As a person grasped the fundamentals of play they would find that the game really wasn't annoying hard like say PS2's Shinobi, instead, intensely rewarding. NG also looked fantastic, and once again, had incredibly fluid animation.

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___________
Wednesday, August 11, 2010 @ 4:15:22 AM
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they have no one to blame but themselves!
i can see a lack of passion out of japanese developers.
capcom for example use to be the cream of the crop, they use to release so many games and every single one of them brilliant!
these days though there releasing less titles and there no where near as good as they use to be.
than theres the were sending well established IPs to western developers, were only going to work on new IPs ourselves.
that just goes to show how much passion they have for their creations.
if they really did care about their games, than why would they be shelving it off to other devs?

same thing with $E, though instead of laziness and lack of passion they have screwed themselves up by being greedy and changing their games to reach a larger audience.

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