Squeenix CEO Calls Out Japanese Gamers on Western Bias

 Pages 1 2 3 NEXT
 

Squeenix CEO Calls Out Japanese Gamers on Western Bias

image

Square-Enix CEO Yoichi Wada is frustrated with Japanese gamers' refusal to give Western-made games a chance, calling the Japanese term for the games "terribly discriminatory."

The relationship of Japan and the West when it comes to video games is a strange one, and Square-Enix CEO Yoichi Wada has spoken at length on the subject more than once. Wada clearly admires the Western game industry, mentioning that he wants to see his native Japan follow suit with more games made for adults, and - like many other Japanese developers - has obviously been mulling over how Japanese game makers can market their titles to Western gamers more successfully instead of dealing with a relatively small, insulated market.

But for the moment, Wada isn't concerned with how to market his company's games in the West, but with the exact opposite: In an interview with Japanese TV posted to YouTube, Wada expressed frustration with Japanese gamers' resistance to Western titles, in part due to the country's collective "meh" to Modern Warfare 2, which Activision handed off to Square-Enix to publish in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Specifically, Wada has an issue with the Japanese term youge- (洋ゲー), the word used to refer to titles made in the West as opposed to Japanese-made games, or geimu (ゲーム - yeah, it's just the word "game"). By differentiating between the two, Japanese gamers are essentially saying that Western games aren't actually games, and the Square-Enix boss doesn't like it.

"Even now, there have been people in Japan using the label youge- (Western games) with a terribly discriminatory meaning," said Wada. "I'd like them to try it once. If they play it once, they'd realize how incorrect that label is."

There's no doubt that Wada has a bit of a personal investment in the matter considering that strong sales of MW2 would benefit his company's coffers, but considering his previous statements on the matter it's not hard to believe that the man genuinely wants Japan's gamers and game makers alike to broaden their borders in more ways than one.

(Via Kotaku)

Permalink

Not to sound racist, but ya, I've heard a lot of people say that Japan is xenophobic.
I can point to Mario and Jynx as proof...

Well it is nice to see that he wants the people there to try and love our games, just as we do the same, Tales of Vesperia ftw!

This man makes a lot of sense. Good for him.

Japan has always had an air of self-determination. It's fair enough, they seem to know what they like, and what they like is the product of their own culture. However, I'm sure a lot more of them would have fun if they weren't so close minded about such things. I admire this duded for saying this, because with the weight his word would probably carry, it might just win a few over.

How do you say "cultural relevance" in Japanese, because I suspect the reason MW2 didn't sell well there is because it has a very decidedly Western-centric theme that's not going to resonate with a Japanese audience.

Plus, as far as other Western games go, the Japanese have their own kitsch, they don't need ours. Japanese games are popular in America because there is a strong subset of people who like the cultural memes at work in those games, but that does not necessarily mean that desire for something from another culture is going to cross both ways.

Well, it seems to me that there really is a difference between what Western and Japanese gamers expect from their games. Western games don't catch on in Japan as a rule, but to be fair, a lot of Western gamers don't get a lot of Japanese games either. Japanese games do tend to do better in the West than Western games in Japan, but that may be just because Westerners are a little more used to accepting and working within other cultures. You know, the big ol' melting pot concept. But I can see how it would be that the Japanese market would be slower for Western games than their own. Like SimuLord said, they have their own kitsch (good turn of phrase, that). Games made for the Western culture just aren't going to have the mass appeal for the Japanese market.

MW2 is too Ameri-centric to really appeal to a Japanese audience. Really, take a look at western games how many of them were based on WWII?

You'd have more luck marketing Halo and similar games not based in the "real world".

I find his goal admirable, but a timewaster. America enjoys all games because we're a melting pot, we have all sorts of little things that allows practically anything work for us.

But in Japan that isn't the case, as they are vastly attuned to their own culture. Only very little on a worldwide scale will interest them.

I'd add more but SimuLord and Royas pretty much took the words out of my mouth.

CantFaketheFunk:
Specifically, Wada has an issue with the Japanese term youge- (洋ゲー), the word used to refer to titles made in the West as opposed to Japanese-made games, or geimu (ゲーム - yeah, it's just the word "game").

There are OUR games, and then there are EVERYONE ELSES games... haha!

Wada shouldn't just discuss the bias of the gamers in his country...look at the industry itself.

Wasn't too long ago I saw an article here about how Japanese game composers believe the West can't come up with anything really memorable.

Oh, and then there is Famitsu.

image

Look at the list of games they have given "perfect scores" to...after all these years, not a single foreign game has gotten on that list. (Oh, but they've come quite close :P)

So the only way to cover your loss when making a really bad choice. (Publishing a highly western game in an eastern market.) is to make the target market feel bad about its personal taste?

Thats just good business.

He makes good sense but I don't think I can join him on the youge-geimu thing. After all, we in the west have a separate word for animation that comes from Japan.

That said, it would be nice if Japan was more receptive to american games. But that's as in depth as I'm going to go. If it becomes a real issue over there (and I doubt it will) I will follow more closely.

I have to side with the eastern masses here.
There are few western games in the last 10 years I didn't think were mediocre or crap.

My response to MW was "meh" too and that doesn't make me xenophobic, i just dislike bland sequels trying to cash in on the original.

hansari:

CantFaketheFunk:
Specifically, Wada has an issue with the Japanese term youge- (洋ゲー), the word used to refer to titles made in the West as opposed to Japanese-made games, or geimu (ゲーム - yeah, it's just the word "game").

There are OUR games, and then there are EVERYONE ELSES games... haha!

Wada shouldn't just discuss the bias of the gamers in his country...look at the industry itself.

Wasn't too long ago I saw an article here about how Japanese game composers believe the West can't come up with anything really memorable.

Oh, and then there is Famitsu.

image

Look at the list of games they have given "perfect scores" to...after all these years, not a single foreign game has gotten on that list. (Oh, but they've come quite close :P)

...Nintendogs? Seriously?

Nazrel:
I have to side with the eastern masses here.
There are few western games in the last 10 years I didn't think were mediocre or crap.

I really don't think that matters. Some games are good, most are crap, no matter the culture they herald from.

Finally someones says something about this

I'm sick of Japan attitude towards our games here in the west.

Silk_Sk:

Nazrel:
I have to side with the eastern masses here.
There are few western games in the last 10 years I didn't think were mediocre or crap.

I really don't think that matters. Some games are good, most are crap, no matter the culture they herald from.

One could argue that we actually get a much better crop of Japanese games since the (really) shitty ones don't get released over here.

CantFaketheFunk:

Silk_Sk:

Nazrel:
I have to side with the eastern masses here.
There are few western games in the last 10 years I didn't think were mediocre or crap.

I really don't think that matters. Some games are good, most are crap, no matter the culture they herald from.

One could argue that we actually get a much better crop of Japanese games since the (really) shitty ones don't get released over here.

Exactly. Also, when judging a games worth, preference matters quite a bit and not just culturally.

Nintendogs, for example, wasn't a bad game by any measure. If someone likes puppies, they are well justified to give that game a perfect score. If you don't like puppies then don't play it, but no one can say the game was bad.

But, to apply that to the issue, the style of western games is radically different to Japanese ones. Their preference is not just because of culture. Japanese games have an astounding amount of subtlety woven into them with regards to game mechanics. The player is expected to discover and learn these mechanics on his own and utilize them to his advantage. Western games don't go much further than headshot = kill. It could be that the Japanese feel that western games insult their skills as gamers.

The fellow has a point, but I can't really complain if Japan found Modern Warfare 2 to be 'meh' as that was my reaction to it as well.

So what he is basically crying about is that the Japanese don't really have a market for endless year on year iterations of effectively the same game with new skins and maps being released to massive hype, dubious critical acclaim, and quick dismissal when the Next-Big-Thing(TM) runs through the same mill. A collective 'meh' is exactly the response Cod4 2 deserved. CoD4 1 on the other hand...

I wonder how Half Life was received there...

Wakefield:
This man makes a lot of sense. Good for him.

Agreed.

Its a shame the Japanese people, particularly the gamers look down on Western Created games so much, they really are missing alot. Hopefully one day, with people like Wada on out side, they might begin to change the attitude to how they perceive foreign games.

Asehujiko:
My response to MW was "meh" too and that doesn't make me xenophobic, i just dislike bland sequels trying to cash in on the original.

Japanese devs do that all the time (i.e. Nintendo, Capcom, Midway, etc.)

SimuLord:
How do you say "cultural relevance" in Japanese, because I suspect the reason MW2 didn't sell well there is because it has a very decidedly Western-centric theme that's not going to resonate with a Japanese audience.

Plus, as far as other Western games go, the Japanese have their own kitsch, they don't need ours. Japanese games are popular in America because there is a strong subset of people who like the cultural memes at work in those games, but that does not necessarily mean that desire for something from another culture is going to cross both ways.

so every game that has cultural relavance in it is going to be unappealing to anyone else in another culture? how do you say "wrong" in Japanese?

and the problem is not that the american games arent filling in with the japanese's kitsch, its (from what i presume from reading) that the japanese are hardly even trying, and even when they do, they make a great big sulk about it.

I think we should all follow suit and play games out of are comfort zones, imo

This guy would have a point if everyone wasn't so hung up on World War Shooters.

When we stop making those piles of feces, then he'll have my support.

mattttherman3:
Well it is nice to see that he wants the people there to try and love our games, just as we do the same, Tales of Vesperia ftw!

Jaredin:

Wakefield:
This man makes a lot of sense. Good for him.

Agreed.

Its a shame the Japanese people, particularly the gamers look down on Western Created games so much, they really are missing alot. Hopefully one day, with people like Wada on out side, they might begin to change the attitude to how they perceive foreign games.

I mean at best give it a try and if it's not to your liking then fine, but no need to discriminate or be all negative about it (MW2 and Halo haters? stop please)

and yeah definitely, it's nice to see someone with that kind of vision
I haven't played many FF games in a while, but XIII may be the thing that gets me back into a good JRPG (been missing the story elements)

Japan is historically and culturally insular, the only significant changes that occured in Japan where by an outside power forcing Japan to modernise or to change. The order of Japanese samurai's only collapsed when an American war ship sailed into Tokyo Harbour in the 1850's and and forced the Japanese to open up their ports to foregin trade. It was then when the Americans occupied Japan after WW2 and forced them to make their government a liberal democracy. Prior to 1850, Japan had been isolationist for... i think around 400-500 years.

This is why i think the Japanese have never been very outward looking, it's in their culture, and if you want to know why its in their culture you just need to look at their history. Fortunatly, we are not the losers of Japans insulararity, the Euro-American market is a strong one, and Japan not being part of that market does not leave Western game companies short of cash at all.

It would be nice if there was more two-way interaction going on between Japan and the West, the West, outward looking by nature, has always been happy to play Japanese games. It's sad that it's not the other way round, but there you go, it's the Japanese loss, and not ours.

jebussaves88:
Japan has always had an air of self-determination. It's fair enough, they seem to know what they like, and what they like is the product of their own culture. However, I'm sure a lot more of them would have fun if they weren't so close minded about such things. I admire this duded for saying this, because with the weight his word would probably carry, it might just win a few over.

This.

I guess becoming an economic powerhouse after WWII has gone to their brains.

It's always good to try something different :D

Maybe they think our culture and products are just as crazy as theres?!

Yeah, and maybe us westerners should open up to tentacle rape anime.

Why wouldn't Japanese people want to play a game about Americans killing civilians with nukes exploding all over the place? I don't know, there must be something wrong with them, the racists.

I hope that they keep their own tastes and don't just fall into line with whatever standardized product global corporations want to sell them. Vive la différence.

mattttherman3:
Well it is nice to see that he wants the people there to try and love our games, just as we do the same, Tales of Vesperia ftw!

Agreed, I'm all for international sharing of entertainment.

Distorted Stu:
Maybe they think our culture and products are just as crazy as theres?!

Those crazy Americans, they can make anything gritty and brown, and they sure love their space marines!

They thought MW2 was "meh"?....Maybe because other people share that view? Thing is, Japan is such a different culture, maybe they just don't enjoy mindless killing. I certainly know people my age in different countries who don't - they just don't "get it".

 Pages 1 2 3 NEXT

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here