Editorials, Featured

Lost In Translation: Japanese Video Game Industry Only Has Itself To Blame

by on March 9, 2012 12:00 PM 33

For the last twelve years or so there’s been this paradigm shift in video game development and the philosophy that surrounds it. Much of it stems from the newer game creators that are popping up from literally every where. Every single day we’re seeing new creative hot zones spring up across the globe, with North America and Western Europe seeing the biggest influx of home grown talent. It’s safe to say: we’re at the tail end of gaming’s first renaissance.

In that span of time the “west” has been at an all time high, while the “east” — well the “far east” — hasn’t earned nearly as much fanfare. The Miyamotos, Inafunes, and Sakaguchis that I grew up with have quietly been replaced by the Blezinskis, Howards, Notches and Hudsons. Consumers have voted with their wallets and have decided the kinds of games, characters, and stories that they want to experience.

When this change began, Japanese developers decided to stick to their guns and continue to create games the only way that they knew how, and for a while were still seeing moderate success; especially with bigger and well known IPs. Eventually  though, the sales numbers began to dip and a Japanese developed title that would have killed it at retail a decade prior was now struggling to find a publisher for a western release. And that pretty much describes the point we’re currently at now.

I’m not going to try and figure out the smoking gun that brought upon this change because there are just too many variables to consider. Instead, let’s go over how Japanese developers haven’t really tried to adjust to the changes and in the process have lost a lot of what made them unique in the first place. How the downfall of the Japanese games industry is a product of their own creation.

“To win… you must first acknowledge your loss and prepare to start over”

- Inafune-san

Lost In Translation: Japanese Video Game Industry Only Has Itself To Blame

At the 2012 Game Developers Conference, just as he did the year prior and despite the certain backlash he will face in his native Japan, Mega Man co-creator Keiji Inafune has warned that “time is running out.” He believes Japanese developers rely too heavily on the nostalgia factor from “blasts from the past.”  Instead of being innovative, some of them are easily creating the kinds of games that they assume people want to buy rather than something unique and compelling that will be able to sell itself on a global level.

Some Japanese developers, through their choice of  projects and IPs, may indicate that they want to step out and onto a more global stage of game development, yet their actions seem to show otherwise. In a December 2011 interview with Gamasutra, Yakuza creator and SEGA COO Toshihiro Nagoshi spoke about Binary Domain and it’s western influence. When asked about it’s target audience he responded by saying “My ultimate goals are worldwide… I like the idea of breaking out of Japan into the rest of the world — maybe it’s just an image in my mind, but that’s how I’d like to go. That’s part of why the game is set in Japan, after all.”

What’s ironic about Nagoshi-san’s statement, is that the complaints that I had during my review of Binary Domain was that it’s Japanese influence was arguably a bit  too prevalent for a traditional western shooter fan’s liking. And here we are looking at an interview from weeks prior where he’s talking about how he’d prefer to have success in Japan, and have it branch out from there. That train of thought is a prime example of what Inafune is talking about.

“It doesn’t matter where they are from, working with highly motivated individuals is the only way to move forward” 

- Kojima-San

Lost In Translation: Japanese Video Game Industry Only Has Itself To Blame

If you want to take a look at someone who has done things right despite the decline, look no further than Metal Gear series creator Hideo Kojima. While other developers were trying to push more of the same from Japan, Kojima-san and his production studio recognized the industry’s flaws and acted on it. They promoted American-born Ryan Payton to act as assistant producer for the biggest title in the Metal Gear saga thus far.

Ryan would provide his own insight and influence to ensure that the game had a very high level of western appeal. The payoff was Metal Gear Solid 4 becoming a critically acclaimed final product, one that  – four years later — still ranks among the highest scoring titles in the PlayStation 3 library. The difference here is that pride (some may call it stubbornness) was set aside in favor to create a great product. It’s something that that entire Japanese game industry should make note of if they plan on bouncing back.

“Times they are a-changin’…”

- Bob Dylan

Lost In Translation: Japanese Video Game Industry Only Has Itself To Blame

Survival of the fittest doesn’t just apply to the animal kingdom, it’s just as relevant to business. A major aspect of survival is one’s ability to adapt to their surroundings. Right now, I believe from what I see and hear is that the Japanese game industry is in poor form and slowly dwindling into irrelevancy. It needs to adapt to in order to survive and unfortunately only a few people on that side of the world are coming to grips with that reality.

This doesn’t mean that we should lose all hope. It’s also not a suggestion that you should start listening to knuckleheads like Phil Fish. Actually it’s far from that.

I think that there are still great stories left to be told. Stories filled with characters and emotions that only Japanese developers know how to truly convey. However, those developers need to show humility and branch out to different avenues, people, and influences to help deliver those ideas to a global audience. When looking for who’s at fault for the current situation though, unfortunately they only have themselves to blame.

Join the Discussion

  • Anonymous

    This article is so ridiculous and full of generalizations, mis contexted quotes and everything else

    “Eventually  though, the sales numbers began to dip and a JRPG that would
    have killed it at retail a decade prior was now struggling to find a
    publisher for a western release.”

    You dont know anything about rpgs. Just say it. After lying youll feel better

    More jrpgs have been localized this gen than any other. They arent in any trouble at all

    • http://dualshockers.com Joel Taveras

      I appreciate the feedback but I think you’re being a bit overly defensive about JRPGs as the article is more of a commentary about the overall situation of the Japanese game industry.

      An industry which has its own influential people realizing that it is in dire straits.

      • Anonymous

        So when peter m, bioware, 38, thq say the same thing about the west. Where is the article for that?

        Wheres your article about how money spent on gaming in the US has been in decline for the last 6 years?

        Hell you even mis categorized what inafune said at that conference………

        I see you didnt comment on anything I said because youd have to admit what you said was full of holes

        • Anonymous

           Also is this why in 2011 the top revenue companies were all japanese?

          “Right now, the Japanese game industry is in poor form and slowly
          dwindling into irrelevancy.”

          Says who? Says you? I am having too much fun playing devil survivor 2, suikoden psp, and resident evil revelations to notice.

          • http://dualshockers.com/author/dfenster David Fenster

            I grew up on Japanese games like Mega Man, Final Fantasy, Mario, Zelda, etc.  The past few years, I’ve definitely been playing way more western games.

          • Anonymous

             Thats perfectly fine with me. Anyone is allowed to like or play any games they like, but when you start lying, generalizing, or making assumptions about games you sont play.

            Thats when I have an issue

            Right now I am playing suikoden psp, beyond the labrynth, resident evil revelations, devil survivor 2, and next week , tales of graces.

            But what i dont do, is right articles about how the west is in the worst financial shape in more than a decade or the same about japan

          • http://www.facebook.com/DarknessNamed David Rodriguez

            You should re-read the last three paragraphs of the article. There is no lying, or anything of the sort in this article. I think you’re taking it way too personal.

            Aside from some exceptions, a lot of Japanese developers just seem to be out of touch. Mario seems to be the only franchise to have been translated beautifully to this generation. But everything else has been…without any innovation:
            Zelda – The first two or three hours of SS are one long, drawn out tutorial. Unnecessary.

            Mega Man – The 8-bit thing was fun at first, but the novelty wore off…quickly.

            Final Fantasy – XIII, lolXIV, and XIII-2. You can refer to my comment above.

            JRPGS specifically will probably go back to being a niche genre until the next FFVII comes along and wakes everyone up. But as of right now, their formula is simply not working.

          • Anonymous

            Believe me I read the article and everything not a quote is either a lie or a generalization or a mis representation

            “Aside from some exceptions, a lot of Japanese developers just seem to
            be out of touch.”generalization “Mario seems to be the only franchise to have been
            translated beautifully to this generation. But everything else has
            been…without any innovation:”generalizationSkyward sword………..your seriously going to tell me theres no innovation? How about the first time 1 1 swordsmanship has ever worked in games…………”Mega Man – The 8-bit thing was fun at first, but the novelty wore off…quickly.”So you never played the zero games? The zx advent games? the battle network games? sigh, another genaralization

            “Final Fantasy – XIII, lolXIV, and XIII-2. You can refer to my comment above.”and you can view my comments

            “JRPGS specifically will probably go back to being a niche genre until
            the next FFVII “They were always niche aside from pokemon and ff, and dq” But as of right now,
            their formula is simply not working.”whose squares? is that why they hit profit highs this gen on the backs of dragon quest IX? Did you play blood of bahamut? or anything else they did?

            Fyi I can list 3 western series as well that have zero innovation

            Call of duty – Enough said

            Medal of honor – enough said

            battlefield – enough said

            The problem is I am arguing with people who are generalizing, and using there personal opinion to cloud reality

          • http://www.facebook.com/DarknessNamed David Rodriguez

            Square Enix has been posting losses for a significant amount of time now, what paint are you huffing? FFXIV was a colossal failure and FFXIII was a disappointment. They released XIII-2, a sequel that a considerable amount of people did not want, nor ask for. Why? Because FF is a cash-cow; regardless of quality.

            The novelty of 1-1 swordsmanship was great, and it definitely isn’t a novelty that won’t wear off quick. People are still talking about it to this day right? Oh, wait.

            But you know what? You’re right. The Japanese developers can do no wrong, and I am a bastard for questioning the overlords. /endthread 

          • Anonymous

              “Square
            Enix has been posting losses for a significant amount of time now, what
            paint are you huffing?”1 year is significant? They broke profit records 3 times this gen”FFXIV was a colossal failure and FFXIII was a
            disappointment. They released XIII-2, a sequel that a considerable
            amount of people did not want, nor ask for. Why? Because FF is a
            cash-cow; regardless of quality.”14 was a failure, 13 was an 84 rated game that was not a dissappointment. And all the people who loved 13 wanted another and we got a fantastic gamestar ocean 1 enhanced portstar ocean 2 enhanced portcrisis coredissidia 1dissidia 2ff type zeroff iv completethe world ends with you
            tactics advance 2crystal chroniclesrevant wings4 warriors of lightvp covenantyou listed 1 bad game, I can list around 50 great ones

            “the novelty of 1-1 swordsmanship was great, and it definitely isn’t a
            novelty that won’t wear off quick. People are still talking about it to
            this day right? Oh, wait.”peopel are still talking about skyward sword yes as it is the best zeldaDid I ever say japan can do no wrong? No I didnt say that. But when you lie and generalize about what they are and are not doing wrong, thats wrong

          • http://dualshockers.com Joel Taveras

            For starters I didn’t address you initially because I was on my phone. 

            I fail to understand how pulling direct quotes from interviews is making generalizations. And you’ve taken what I said about Miyamoto completely out of context. He was used as an example of the “changing of the guard,” so to speak. 

            No one is doubting the man’s ability to to create or his role as an influential person in this industry, but you brought up an example from 8 whole years ago, in an industry that moves at the speed of light in 140 characters or less. No one cares anymore about what you did yesterday, they want to know what you’ve got for them today and tomorrow. Do you see what I mean?

            Then you go on a crusade to defend the JRPG, which is perfectly fine, but to say that 15 JRPGs in a year is a “phenominal feat” and that Nintendo is now boarding on 25 for the entire gen, is a clear indicator that you’re very young and have absolutely no idea how many JRPGs used to be released during their hay day.

          • Anonymous

             You take quotes out of context and then put your own spin on them

            I understand you have no point but now your also mis representing what I said

            I said” 15 japanese rpgs AT THE END OF A GEN especially when new systems are being brought in and old ones phased out IS PHENOMENAL………….

            Calling me young is the surest sign of not having an arguement.

            Ive been gaming since before the atari, I know exactly how many jrpgs used to be released

            nintendo – most ever

            square – most ever

            atlus – most ever

            sting – most ever

            namco – most ever

            I can go down the list. This gen in terms of quantity, has been the most ever, and really it isnt even close.

      • http://www.facebook.com/giuseppe.nelva Giuseppe Nelva

        To be fair, Inafune has stopped being influential a long time ago :P

        • Anonymous

           True, inafune has been working on a very niche action rpg on 3ds, and that is whats so great about japan……….if anything hes proving why japan is awesome

    • http://www.facebook.com/DarknessNamed David Rodriguez

      With advancements in the way games are made and played, games have also advanced the maturity of their stories.

      Have the Japanese been able to do adequately do this? For the most part, no. Just look at the year 2010. You had two major RPGs released: Mass Effect 2 and Final Fantasy XIII.

      Mass Effect 2 was superbly directed and allowed you to form emotional bonds with each character; this was coupled with one of the most intense final sequences in any game I have ever played. The plot had depth, and the characters had depth; it was all enjoyable and easy to understand.

      Where was this in Final Fantasy XIII? Muddled in jargon and washed over with a ton of flashy cutscenes and action sequences that overall added nothing to an already overly complex narrative. 

      Sazh and Lightning were the most down-to-earth characters, but the rest? Vanille (who should have been more more pivotal throughout the story) was written as a typical Selphie/Rikku-esque character – a bimbo. Hope’s motives for wanting to murder Snow were not thought out at all. 

      Complexity =/= Depth. Superb graphcis alone DO NOT make a game great. I think that’s the main problem of JRPG developers today; SE in particular. Slapping the words ‘Final Fantasy’ on a game will guarantee that it sells gangbusters, but that doesn’t make it a good game. Nor does that mean that we should feel obligated to like it or reviewers should feel obligated to skew their reviews in a certain direction; just because it’s a storied franchise.

      Nostalgia is a term that sticks out in this article, for a good reason. I never see people being as harsh towards JRPG developers as they are towards American developers. People cling to the ‘glory days’ of Final Fantasy VII (still screaming for a remake that will/should never happen) and the RPG boom of the late 90′s. 

      JRPG developers should be held more accountable for the mistakes they have made, and there should be a higher demand for more mature and character-driven stories from them. They have definitely shown their potential to be GOOD at that. 

      • Anonymous

        More people who dont have any idea what they are talking about

        “With advancements in the way games are made and played, games have also advanced the maturity of their stories.”

        Never has anything more wrong been said. There have been all kinds of stories since the beginning of games, mature, childlike, whimsical, mysterious, everything. Thats what makes japan so great. Unlike others who do the same generic story over and over japan will take risks.

        “Just look at the year 2010. You had two major RPGs released:
        Mass Effect 2 and Final Fantasy XIII.”

        Sorry I cant argue with someone who knows so little about rpgs they think those were the only releases in 2010

        Let me sum up your text.

        You liked mass effect 2 , you hated 13. Fine

        I hated mass effect 2 and loved 13. Why?

        13 had far superior gameplay, an addicting battle system that couldnt be matched, a unique world which was very very myserious, 2 worlds……… coupled with the best finalle Ive been witness to in some time

        You are right superb graphics are not needed. Which is the wests biggest issue. The use the same middleware engines, the same graphical style, the same artistic look

        Japan innovates in that field with water color, cell shading, sprite, realism, and everything else in between

        • http://www.facebook.com/DarknessNamed David Rodriguez

          A little bit of advice: You won’t make friends by getting on a high horse or dictating from your ivory tower (whichever you prefer).

          I never said I hated Final Fantasy XIII; just the way it was directed. The battle system and graphics were fun, a lot of fun. But there was no substance to any of it. Did I care if my characters lived or died? No. Mass Effect 2 had the advantage of having both deep characters that you cared for AND an enjoyable battle system.

          Also, I never said ME2 and FFXIII were the ONLY RPGs released that year, but rather that they were simply two major releases. Your tendency to twist words comes off as fanboyish.

          Additionally, I said that games have become more mature. This didn’t mean I was implying that games from the 90′s were not mature. But you’re not seriously going to tell me that the ratio was the same…are you?

          But what I find most interesting is that I criticize FFXIII for it’s vapid story and characters and you respond by first and foremost defending it’s graphics and gameplay. The final cutscene DID make up for quite a bit, but not enough to excuse the rest of the games shortcomings.

          Think about that.

          • Anonymous

            I didnt post to make friends, I posted because enough was enough
            Please mass effect had one of the shallowist 3rd person shooter rip off battle systems Id ever seen

            “Your tendency
            to twist words comes off as fanboyish.’

            ditto

            “Additionally, I said that games have become more mature. This didn’t
            mean I was implying that games from the 90′s were not mature. But you’re
            not seriously going to tell me that the ratio was the same…are you?”it was exactly the same. Did you play ultima?
             or wizardry? or anything?

            “But what I find most interesting is that I criticize FFXIII for it’s
            vapid story and characters and you respond by first and foremost
            defending it’s graphics and gameplay.

            I believe I did say the world was awesome and that in turn feeds into both

          • http://www.facebook.com/DarknessNamed David Rodriguez

            “Ditto”? Really? Good thinking.

            You actually believe that the ratio of mature games in the 90′s was the same as it is today. Yet, it wasn’t until 1997 that RPGs were universally accepted and games started to take on more of a mature tone. Before then, developers were still trying to assert games as MORE than just a vessel for cursory entertainment. You’re wrong.

            Also, what world in FFXIII? You mean that linear sequence of corridors from one cutscene to the next? That world?

          • Anonymous

             please you dont know anything about rpgs. You think it wasnt until 1997 rpgs were excepted?

            are you a moron? I hate to use that word

            was chrono trigger not mature? was live a life not mature? was lufia not mature? was bahamuts lagoon not mature? was final fantasy VI not mature? was dragon quest V not mature?

            Were people not playing final fantasy, dragon quest, fire emblem on the nes’s?

            People like to pretend in 1997 the japanese rpg genre was born but it wasnt

            you are so wrong its hysterical

            No I mean the world of pulse and cocoon with the intrigue of finding out why things were the way they were

    • Gilgamesh

      Yes JRPGs sales are stable, but this article talks about the japanese industry getting stale from a creativity standpoint. You must have seen this: I am SICK of JRPGs that all have 12 years old boys wearing the most stupid clothes and hair ever seen, but full of “good feelings and friends that love them” and that despite being just ridiculously frail kids can carry a big ass sword (also stupidly shaped). 
      Final Fantasy is dying and is nothing compared to FF3, JRPGs don’t introduce anything new  (exept clothing more stupid than ever before). 
      There are exeptions (Metal Gear is perfection), Dark Souls is the best Action-RPG I have ever played, because it deviates from traditional JRPG paradigms and it works.  

      • Anonymous

         ”Yes JRPGs sales are stable,”

        First smart thing ive read

        ” but this article talks about the japanese
        industry getting stale from a creativity standpoint. ”

        So much promise……………..

        “You must have seen
        this: I am SICK of JRPGs that all have 12 years old boys wearing the
        most stupid clothes and hair ever seen”

        First of all thats a generalization. Second of all it isnt even true

        “Final Fantasy
        is dying and is nothing compared to FF3,”

        is this why 13-2, type zero, rythm are all selling well and well received?

        “JRPGs don’t introduce anything
        new  (exept clothing more stupid than ever before).”

        Western rpgs have never introduced anything new.

        But you dont think valkyria with its water color style was new?

        How about inazuma eleven, a sports rpg?

        or knights in the knightmare a bullet hell srpg?

        I can go on and on
         
        “There are
        exeptions (Metal Gear is perfection), Dark Souls is the best Action-RPG I
        have ever played, because it deviates from traditional JRPG paradigms
        and it works.  ”

        I really wish people with historical rpg knowledge would post and not gamers who started this gen

        1) metal gear isnt an rpg

        2) dark souls is a great rpg and it its basically a next gen kings field was has been around for gens.  Notice how your traditional jrpg paradigms are all made up generalizations………think about it

        fyi ys, kingdom hearts, tales are all better action rpgs

        • Gilgamesh


          I really wish people with historical rpg knowledge would post and not gamers who started this gen”. 

          It looks you are the kind of people that just assumes things instead of asking (and those things are that others aren’t as smart or informed as you). I wasn’t talking about Metal Gear being an RPG (that would be obscenely retarded), but about the entire japanese games industry. 

          FYI: I started playing videogames 16 years ago, and I still do. I even had my NES and all. I played some of the classics, including Chrono Trigger,. I’ve had 6 consoles, 3 handheld consoles, and I even know a lot about indie games. 

          I admit that a lot of JRPGs are good, although niche, and that’s the problem. A niche game can be excellent (like Dark Souls, that only appeals to hardcore gamers), but if a lot of your industry is niche, then      you’re bound to have less sales. 

          A lot of western adult gamers are tired of the immature spiky-haired kiddo vibe (gameplay may be good but style isn’t) in JRPGs and I understand them. The consumer is king.  

          So now you’ve learned that you aren’t the only smart or experienced person on the internet. Let’s not be pretentious, It makes us gamers look nerdy and sociopathic. 

          • Anonymous

             My point is japanese rpgs HAVE ALWAYS BEEN NICHE

            aside from pokemon ff and dq

            thats a fact.

            People have these rose glasses on but it wasnt the case.

            Look at suikoden

            Each entry up to 5 got slammed in reviews every time, non of them sold partularly well here

            “A lot of western adult gamers are tired of the immature spiky-haired
            kiddo vibe (gameplay may be good but style isn’t) in JRPGs and I
            understand them. The consumer is king.  ”

            first of all thats a false generalization

            second of all japanese gamers like all kinds of things

            your making the west look bad

  • Scott

    I don’t know if I feel like the west is really doing that well. Look at all the buggy and unfinished messes many companies are releasing on our side of the world, yet they’re getting away with it due to few calling them out. The most recent example of this would be the Skyrim debacle if you own a PS3. Heck, Microsoft themselves have probably sold a few extra million 360s just because of their terribly put together console. Again, that bugs me, but let’s get back to the main point of this article.

    There hasn’t been much of any innovation over in the west with their games for years. The last two big crazes were Nintendo’s Wii titles leading to things like Sony’s Move, Microsoft’s Kinect, Just Dance, etc. and Call of Duty 4/MW2′s online multiplayer systems which reward the player for just playing them. A lot of publishers are chasing after those two successes. The problem with this is that if all those companies are chasing the same slice of gaming pie, something’s got to give.

    THQ is a great example of this because you have to think more middle-class publishers are going to fall by the wayside as they also struggle to keep up with inflated costs and the current near industry wide stagnation that has brought about a huge gap between successful titles and flops. When you need to sell a couple of million copies of a game just to break even, you’ve got major issues.

    Again, the only real things selling in this industry right now are brands. A look at the NPD will show sequels across the board. Where’s the innovation? The east can’t keep up with the costs, but they dominate the handheld scene. The west is slowly going to fall if things keep going as they are themselves. It’s just a matter of time.

  • http://www.blackxino.blogspot.com Xino

    Article is incomplete, it doesn’t talk about why Japanese needs to be blamed, you only talked about the major point that Japan rely on nostalgia and proceed to talk about different Japanese designers.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nick-Perry/1310105117 Nick Perry

    I’m lol’ing at all the “Mass Effect 2 > FFXIII” comments and how FFXIV was a failure.

    FFXIV was a failure at first, but going F2P and now the major overhaul to 2.0 is drastically changing that.

    And you can’t even compare ME2  and FFXIII two completely different types of games that share very little in common.

    While I think FFXIII is an amazing game and much better than ME2, i’m not going to go on about why because they are completely un-comparable as RPG’s.

    I’ve still yet to play a Western RPG that has a captivating story on par with any of the best JRPGs.

    WRPG’s biggest flaws are the fact they take on this GTA like Mentality that you can do whatever the hell you want , when you want.And that you can customize some generic looking character to your liking and make boring dialogue choices instead of having a well scripted and moving story.
    This makes the pacing of the game’s story boring and uninteresting.

    People bitched about FFXIII just because it’s not Western enough , not enough generic character appearance and free roaming customization. This was one of it’s biggest strengths IMHO. I felt like when the game opened up it broke the pacing of the story, only because the game got significantly harder and you had to do some side stuff in order to get your characters up to par with the challenge ahead.

    Crysis 2 isn’t even an RPG and it’s come the closest to having a well paced and scripted story akin to a JRPG. Not without issue mind you.

    But it has something in common with FFXIII , that the developers listened to the overwhelming bitching of the people who want the game to be something it’s not. And thus you have the CrytekUK breaking the balance of Crysis 2 Multiplayer and not fixing the critical issues that plagued it like netcode issues , lag when orbital strikes were used, poor kill cam accuracy, anti-cheat.
    And Square making FFXIII-2 Open ended to please all these whiners. And yet they still whine.

    Square should just stop trying to make FF into western style games. We play it because it is what it is. Not what it’s trying to be, IE: Western Like.

    • Anonymous

       i support this message

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nick-Perry/1310105117 Nick Perry

    One thing that has been great about Metal Gear is that Kojima has stuck to his guns. And stayed true to what Metal Gear is about.
    While the game has a western setting, it is very Japanese. And it has never changed. And it should never change.

    The same people who would have it be more western would be the likes of the localizers of MGS1 and 2 . Who would change unique and amazing things like Codenames (IE:Revolver Ocelot) to boring  realistic names.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jón-Oddur-Halldórsson/667688518 Jón Oddur Halldórsson

    Nice article. 

    I agree that japanese developers have had some trouble finding their feet this gen but I personally feel that there are still many good games coming out of japan. In fact, many of my favorite games this generation are japanese (Inafune’s Mega Man 9 among them).

     But western development seems to be on the rise (at least saleswise) compared to japanese development.

    I sure do hope that japanese developers will thrive in future without completely westernizing their games because I appreciate the different feel and that special japanese charm of their games. 

    I have yet to play Binary Domain but I don’t feel it’s a fault that  a game has a strong japanese feel, in my mind it only serves to set it apart from the competition. This is exactly how I feel japanese developers should approach developing games in “western genres” like shooters for a global audience.

    Why create an inferior carbon copy of popular western games (Lost Planet) when you can create something that feels somewhat familiar but has a japanese twist to set it apart from the western competition (Vanquish, Binary Domain)?

    I apologize for any spelling mistakes or if any sentences don’t make sense. English is not my native language :P

    • Anonymous

       good points. sales dont matter though   wii fit proves that

  • Allen Sherrill

    Ok I’m verry leval headed about the comments prior to this, and to be honest both sides have valid points and both sides are flawed, not in design but in exicution. Ok here is my situation there is two different ways of creating games western and eastern, the problem with western games is that they are focused soley on EARTH… What I’m talking about with that is they rely on phisics and graphics, and realism, to tell a story, every western game feels like it takes place on an alternate reality to earth alone, they all feel like some redesign of a First Person Shooter. It’s like Tom Clansey trying to write Lord of the Rings. Yes they are looking more beautiful every day but if I want to expand beyond earth for a story I’m given Skyrim? I’m sorry that game is pretty bland (in my own opinion) why? Because you fly like a bird would fly, you run like a human would run, you breath like an animal breaths. It’s bound by the same physics westerners follows for a FPS.

    Japanese on the other hand have wonderful Imagination they have the radical idea to break or bend the rules of physics a human jumping 4 or 5 times in the air, gunblades, and flying boats. They have people that their hair naturaly spikes like Cloud. And little creatures with big heads and an antenna with a ball on top of that, that only says kuppo. There world takes place on planets with 4 moons, and devalish monsters to the imagination. The problem with them is that they ARE trying to incorporate a western feel to their games. They are trying to make monsters that are real only in imagination, look as real as westernly as possible. When graphics were not a big deal to the game, they relied on story. Now they focus on graphics and have less story.

    Final Fantasy XIII and XIII-2 had they have been switched being 13-2 was the original 13, and 13 was the 13-2 spin off both games would have critically been better all around. 13-2 gives you the world setting and an understanding of what happens and why, but it had to answer those questions threw time travel because they already put them self up aginst a brick wall 13 was a story that explained everyting from point a to point b they left no mistery in its wake because it was so linnier. But because it was linnier the whole world revolved on that single line and was a dismal atempt.

    When you get Japanese developers gain hints and tips from western counterparts but leave it mostly up to Japanese you get games like metal gear, the problem is western developers don’t get hints and tips from eastern counterparts, and are left with ultra sandbox RPG where the story is to scattered for the large world you exploreand bland characters outside of your own antagonist. Dragon Ages Dworf looks like the same stereotype characterization found in LotR. Sex is sex and there is no emotion to the game .

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001817871354 Vincent Michaud

    Final Fantasy was THE definition of RPG before; now, it seems that Square Enix has lost its touch with the FF franchise. The older titles were much better; now they are trying to please to much to the western audience. Where did our beloved franchise go :( As such, a new facebook group was created : 
    https://www.facebook.com/FinalFantasyTheEraOfDisappointments in the hopes of bringing back FF to their former glory days by listening to fan feedbacks. Please support if your share this opinion.

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