Okami, Viewtiful Joe Creator: "Western Developers Are Superior"
You know the winds of change have swept through your industry when a man like Hideo Kojima says his team needs to "start from zero" and attempt to make titles that appeal more to the worldwide population. Then there are many other Japanese developers who all hint at lagging behind Western game development and now, one of them comes right out and says it.
In a recent DevelopMag interview, executive director for Platinum Games (comprised of "key members" of Capcom's Clover Studio), Atsushi Inaba, made a bold statement. The man behind the likes of Okami and Viewtiful Joe admitted that currently, Western developers are "superior," and Japanese designers need to step up to the challenge. Said Inaba:
"To be honest, I think that western developers are superior to those in Japan overall. So we the Japanese developers should realise that we have to work hard to reach the western level. We're fast reaching a stage where it's going to be about individual developers and not about what country they are in, globalisation is coming to our industry too."
That last bit is certainly true; the globalization of the industry seems to solidify with every passing day. As for which is "better," the argument continues to rage, but there's no denying that things have changed drastically in the past decade. Remember a time when, if you went into a store to examine the available console games, and you saw one that was Western-made, you put it down in disgust? I remember that time. But these days, many of the best titles every year come from Western studios and the Japanese impact has indeed lessened.
You may want to read that whole interview; Inaba also talks about the importance of original IPs in gaming as well, and says his team's "vision has always been to create new IPs." He admits that it's a difficult process but if you can pull it off, "the rewards are massive." Well, sure...if an IP is a massive success, it spawns a massively successful franchise. ;)
2/19/2009 Ben Dutka