Payton: Japan "Disinterested In Next-Gen Gaming"
For years, everyone identified Japan as the hub of the video game industry, and while that may remain true in terms of sheer ratios and numbers, industry insiders seem to be accepting the fact the primary focus on game development seems to be in gradual shift mode. Where? To the U.S., of course.
Kotaku sat down to talk with Ryan Payton, fresh off his gig with Kojima Productions and now home in North America once more. He spoke a lot about the differences in Japan and the U.S. in terms of gaming these days, and how - in some ways - the Japanese just don't feel like moving forward.
"The Japanese public seems to be disinterested in next-gen and high definition gaming. There is a stigma still attached to western technology there. There have been a lot of good mainstream games built for the Japanese Xbox 360. But they only sold a small number of copies. I think that kind of drained a lot of expectations. ...it's not about the tech in Japan, it's about the games, it's about nostalgia."
As for one Japanese developer that appears to have embraced the new generation and everything it provides in terms of technical capability, Payton singled out Team Ninja. They're responsible for the high-quality and high-tech Ninja Gaiden titles, and Payton hinted that he likes the idea of Square-Enix nabbing Tecmo; the marriage could prompt something very special. Payton is still looking around for his next position, but he just wants to "go wherever we can make a big massive game." That makes sense, considering he just came from making Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots.
But in the end, what Payton says is certainly true. Many developers have noticed the power shift going on, and that the Japanese gaming public aren't quite as drawn to technical accomplishments. But eventually, everything is going to come together - just an opinion - because the industry becomes more and more global every day. The future is bright, regardless of who's making the best games.
9/1/2008 Ben Dutka