Developer Admits Sun Setting on Japanese Game Industry

Developer Admits Sun Setting on Japanese Game Industry

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A Japanese videogame music composer said the nation's game industry is struggling.

Remember in the 80s and 90s when the world was frightened of Japan's creative and industrial might. Movies like Rising Sun claimed that Japan was simply better at doing business than the rest of us. Japanese consoles and titles dominated the game industry for the first few decades, but the average quality has declined in the last five years and famous Japanese designers mouthing off about risk-averse creatives becoming stagnant. Yet another insider, Akira Yamaoka - composer for the music to Silent Hill and the more recent Sine Mora - admitted that the Japanese industry is not what it once was. That's why Grasshopper Manufacture reached out to Hungarian outfit Digital Reality to collaborate on Sine Mora and try to reach a wider audience.

"I think it's true that the Japanese industry is struggling a bit," said Yamaoka. "Maybe we reached the maximum that we could achieve, and we have to admit it. I think that those Japanese people who do not understand cultures overseas will not be able to create entertainment for the global market."

"Creating videogames is a service," he continued. "If you can't, or don't want, to see and meet users around the world, I don't think it's possible to provide the entertainment they want."

Theodore Reiker, creative director at Digital Reality, spoke more about the declining Japanese game industry from an outsider's perspective. "The Japanese videogame ruled the world for many years, but times are changing," he said. "The middle-class of game development is struggling everywhere.

The middle-class of games is a compelling strata of the market that does indeed seem to be disappearing. I'm optimistic that alternate forms of funding games made for a large, but limited audience will champion these titles, but I don't think we can Kickstart every game.

I'm not sure that releasing a side-scrolling shooter like Sine Mora - no matter how good or bad it might be - is the right move, but it's interesting to see Japanese designers mix their fu with Eastern European companies to create new games. When their juices stir together to make a perfect military strategy game with big hair and swords, I'll be the first to line up for a copy.

Source: Edge

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It's disheartening, but on the other hand I haven't bought a Japanese developed game outside of the Nintendo standbys since the first Samurai Warriors in 2004. What he says is true; without understanding what overseas markets expect, more sales are likely to slip until the Japanese market updates itself.

Change is both difficult and normal. I don't see the Japanese gaming industry going away anytime soon, and even the current stage of awkward transformation is producing fantastic, internationally popular games like Demon's Souls and Catherine. Their games may have to focus more on niche markets than the blockbuster crowd, but I'm just not terribly worried about this.

I don't think it is struggling in the same sense that "the American economy is struggling", but it is definitely not doing as well as it used to be.
With developers like Bioware, Bethesda, and Blizzard (all B's... Weird) doing so well these days, Japanese developers have to ramp up their quality or target a more narrow dedicated fan base.
I seriously doubt the Japanese game industry will do [i]actually</> badly anytime soon.

Greg Tito:
"Creating videogames is a service," he continued. "If you can't, or don't want, to see and meet users around the world, I don't think it's possible to provide the entertainment they want."

A very true statement and one thats not going to get me my next Monster Hunter game anytime soon.

Hell they could probably be making a profit on what they have out now if they weren't so stingy with the localization.

DVS BSTrD:
Hell they could probably be making a profit on what they have out now if they weren't so stingy with the localization.

Exactly my thoughts, they've got like this xenophobic fear that releasing games outside of Japan is a bad thing. I'm sure it's more complex than that but from an ignorant, outside perspective that's sure what it looks like.

I just recently watched Extra Credits series on Western vs. JRPGs, so this doesn't surprise me much. Especially since in JRPG-land, more money is being poured into graphics and cinematics,and less into actual gameplay innovation, which I think is the wrong place to go.

Maybe this is irrelevant to the problem, but I think part of the cause may be that their innovation in games is going the opposite direction as everyone else's.

But I don't think I can say much about this. I can't even remember the last time I bought a Japanese game that wasn't made by Nintendo. I think Recettear, which was still a couple years ago.

KeyMaster45:

DVS BSTrD:
Hell they could probably be making a profit on what they have out now if they weren't so stingy with the localization.

Exactly my thoughts, they've got like this xenophobic fear that releasing games outside of Japan is a bad thing. I'm sure it's more complex than that but from an ignorant, outside perspective that's sure what it looks like.

Unfortunately, xenophobia is still a big thing in Japanese culture, so it only makes sense that it would extend to the video game industry. The big problem is realizing that there's a problem with your culture and then fixing it, which is easier said than done.

Tons upon tons of games are flooding the Japanese market, as well as other mediums for entertainment. Some of the games are ludicrous, others text-based romance, and others are puzzle games, there are multiple types. Most of these games wont be seen by the rest of the world. It's always been this way.

I've seen two things happen with Japan recently that may effect the recent trend of their games circulating the globe:

One, a freaking tsunami hit them. Not just the initial monster that knocked out Sendai. There have been other lesser tsunamis, and tons of earthquakes, that have hit Japan since. This, plus the rather ugly nuclear problem over there, has effect Japan's economical strength in the last dozen months. The game industry showing a little shrug is therefore not surprising.

Secondly, for one reason or another, Japan has been hoarding its recent stash of games. Remember when a bunch of games were announced (like Xenoblade, Last Story, NinoKuni, etc), but then the people who made the games suddenly turned around and said they would never leave Japanese shores? Lucky for the rest of the world, months down the line, they now are. You have to wonder why the 'NO!' announcement came at all. It may have to do with the factor above (not having money due to the tsunami/nuclear fallout-caused economy issues.) It may have to due to the economy on the rest of the world as a whole and their worries that sending out the games would hurt more than help in the recovery effort.

Over all, I highly doubt Japan is in for a long-term downfall in the games industry. It just hit a glitch due to recent weather events.

Captcha: hobby-horse. Neigh!

Taunta:
I just recently watched Extra Credits series on Western vs. JRPGs, so this doesn't surprise me much. Especially since in JRPG-land, more money is being poured into graphics and cinematics,and less into actual gameplay innovation, which I think is the wrong place to go.

Maybe this is irrelevant to the problem, but I think part of the cause may be that their innovation in games is going the opposite direction as everyone else's.

But I don't think I can say much about this. I can't even remember the last time I bought a Japanese game that wasn't made by Nintendo. I think Recettear, which was still a couple years ago.

KeyMaster45:

DVS BSTrD:
Hell they could probably be making a profit on what they have out now if they weren't so stingy with the localization.

Exactly my thoughts, they've got like this xenophobic fear that releasing games outside of Japan is a bad thing. I'm sure it's more complex than that but from an ignorant, outside perspective that's sure what it looks like.

Unfortunately, xenophobia is still a big thing in Japanese culture, so it only makes sense that it would extend to the video game industry. The big problem is realizing that there's a problem with your culture and then fixing it, which is easier said than done.

That JRPG series Extra Credits made is all shades of wrong. Go check out Tales of Graces F, Xenoblade, any of the Ys series for PSP or on Steam (only 3 is on steam), a ton of the stuff published by Atlus, NIS America and XSEED. There is innovation going on there no one buys it though. If you happen to own a PSP I would say go check out Ys Seven since it's honestly some of the most fun I've had with any game for a long time. If you own a PS3 try Tales of Graces F. I didn't get it myself due to a bad experience with hating characters from a eariler game in the series but the people who have played it only have good things to say. For Wii once again Xenoblade with statements mirroring the Tales of Graces F ones. There's plenty of great games coming out of Japan the problem is websites don't even bother noticing them. Also I don't know any for 360 since it's not very popular in Japan in the first place so I don't know every japanese game coming out on it.

KeyMaster45:

DVS BSTrD:
Hell they could probably be making a profit on what they have out now if they weren't so stingy with the localization.

Exactly my thoughts, they've got like this xenophobic fear that releasing games outside of Japan is a bad thing. I'm sure it's more complex than that but from an ignorant, outside perspective that's sure what it looks like.

Atlus says hello.

What we need is more companies bridging the gap between Japan and the US.

gigastar:

Greg Tito:
"Creating videogames is a service," he continued. "If you can't, or don't want, to see and meet users around the world, I don't think it's possible to provide the entertainment they want."

A very true statement and one thats not going to get me my next Monster Hunter game anytime soon.

I believe Capcom announced Monster Hunter 3 for the Vita. Could be wrong.

neonsword13-ops:

gigastar:

Greg Tito:
"Creating videogames is a service," he continued. "If you can't, or don't want, to see and meet users around the world, I don't think it's possible to provide the entertainment they want."

A very true statement and one thats not going to get me my next Monster Hunter game anytime soon.

I believe Capcom announced Monster Hunter 3 for the Vita. Could be wrong.

At one of Sony's press conferences they showed Monster Hunter 3 on the Vita but I haven't heard a single thing about it since then. Also the conference was only in japanese so I still don't know.

One of the weird things about the Japanese market is that they want to feel special. It takes something of a cult following in Japan in order to not risk having your product shunned if it's sold internationally. Atlus has a cult following. Square-Enix generally has a cult following. Capcom and Konomi are both either lost, or are rapidly losing that cult following. That means they have to make more Japanese exclusive titles. If they later release the games outside of Japan, then the people that bought the game feel betrayed, and they tend to boycott later titles.

It's kind of a catch 22, unless they can figure out how to guarantee more US sales.

neonsword13-ops:

gigastar:

Greg Tito:
"Creating videogames is a service," he continued. "If you can't, or don't want, to see and meet users around the world, I don't think it's possible to provide the entertainment they want."

A very true statement and one thats not going to get me my next Monster Hunter game anytime soon.

I believe Capcom announced Monster Hunter 3 for the Vita. Could be wrong.

What youre referring to there is Monster Hunter Portable 3rd, the PSP version of Monster Hunter Tri, and released in 2010. It caused economic slowdown that day because so many people took the day off work to go get it.

And Monster Hunter 4 is actually in development for the 3DS, but of course thats miles away from us seeing a nice, english, version of our own to play.

I love that you link-reference Sine Mora, and not Silent Hill. Know your audience. just to be clear that was sincere.

Taunta:
I just recently watched Extra Credits series on Western vs. JRPGs, so this doesn't surprise me much. Especially since in JRPG-land, more money is being poured into graphics and cinematics,and less into actual gameplay innovation, which I think is the wrong place to go.

Hardly unique to the JRPG, though. I think, as others in this thread have said, the issue is localization.

They do create good games, such as jrpgs. But my issue is that they are cliche now. All the characters are the same, similar stories - they need more originality. Im playing FF13-2 and its deja vu when talking to people and seeing the characters. Every statement being folowed by the statement repeated in question form eg."We will find Lightening" "Will we find Lightening?"
Its annoying. Also the same characters moaning about being weak eventhough they have now battled and killed 1000 monsters and 3 bosses (thats Hope).

They are still enjoyable to play, they just need to shake things up a bit, make a different kind of rpg. Different artstyle instead of the cliche anime style - Im aware that the jrpg style, but its overplayed and they need something different to get people interested again. Maybe one with a more realistic style?

80Maxwell08:

Taunta:
I just recently watched Extra Credits series on Western vs. JRPGs, so this doesn't surprise me much. Especially since in JRPG-land, more money is being poured into graphics and cinematics,and less into actual gameplay innovation, which I think is the wrong place to go.

Maybe this is irrelevant to the problem, but I think part of the cause may be that their innovation in games is going the opposite direction as everyone else's.

But I don't think I can say much about this. I can't even remember the last time I bought a Japanese game that wasn't made by Nintendo. I think Recettear, which was still a couple years ago.

KeyMaster45:

Exactly my thoughts, they've got like this xenophobic fear that releasing games outside of Japan is a bad thing. I'm sure it's more complex than that but from an ignorant, outside perspective that's sure what it looks like.

Unfortunately, xenophobia is still a big thing in Japanese culture, so it only makes sense that it would extend to the video game industry. The big problem is realizing that there's a problem with your culture and then fixing it, which is easier said than done.

That JRPG series Extra Credits made is all shades of wrong. Go check out Tales of Graces F, Xenoblade, any of the Ys series for PSP or on Steam (only 3 is on steam), a ton of the stuff published by Atlus, NIS America and XSEED. There is innovation going on there no one buys it though. If you happen to own a PSP I would say go check out Ys Seven since it's honestly some of the most fun I've had with any game for a long time. If you own a PS3 try Tales of Graces F. I didn't get it myself due to a bad experience with hating characters from a eariler game in the series but the people who have played it only have good things to say. For Wii once again Xenoblade with statements mirroring the Tales of Graces F ones. There's plenty of great games coming out of Japan the problem is websites don't even bother noticing them. Also I don't know any for 360 since it's not very popular in Japan in the first place so I don't know every japanese game coming out on it.

To be fair, EC didn't say there weren't any exceptions. I think they were mainly referring to Final Fantasy and that ilk. Games that have huge budget movie cut scenes but still have menu-based combat.

Taunta:

80Maxwell08:

Taunta:
I just recently watched Extra Credits series on Western vs. JRPGs, so this doesn't surprise me much. Especially since in JRPG-land, more money is being poured into graphics and cinematics,and less into actual gameplay innovation, which I think is the wrong place to go.

Maybe this is irrelevant to the problem, but I think part of the cause may be that their innovation in games is going the opposite direction as everyone else's.

But I don't think I can say much about this. I can't even remember the last time I bought a Japanese game that wasn't made by Nintendo. I think Recettear, which was still a couple years ago.

Unfortunately, xenophobia is still a big thing in Japanese culture, so it only makes sense that it would extend to the video game industry. The big problem is realizing that there's a problem with your culture and then fixing it, which is easier said than done.

That JRPG series Extra Credits made is all shades of wrong. Go check out Tales of Graces F, Xenoblade, any of the Ys series for PSP or on Steam (only 3 is on steam), a ton of the stuff published by Atlus, NIS America and XSEED. There is innovation going on there no one buys it though. If you happen to own a PSP I would say go check out Ys Seven since it's honestly some of the most fun I've had with any game for a long time. If you own a PS3 try Tales of Graces F. I didn't get it myself due to a bad experience with hating characters from a eariler game in the series but the people who have played it only have good things to say. For Wii once again Xenoblade with statements mirroring the Tales of Graces F ones. There's plenty of great games coming out of Japan the problem is websites don't even bother noticing them. Also I don't know any for 360 since it's not very popular in Japan in the first place so I don't know every japanese game coming out on it.

To be fair, EC didn't say there weren't any exceptions. I think they were mainly referring to Final Fantasy and that ilk. Games that have huge budget movie cut scenes but still have menu-based combat.

This doesn't change that they did no real research, misinformed a ton of people and claimed their opinion as fact. Square Enix do NOT make all RPGs that come out of Japan. There are tons that come out that don't focus on those at all it's not accurate at all it's a generalization that has no facts behind it.

80Maxwell08:

Taunta:

80Maxwell08:

That JRPG series Extra Credits made is all shades of wrong. Go check out Tales of Graces F, Xenoblade, any of the Ys series for PSP or on Steam (only 3 is on steam), a ton of the stuff published by Atlus, NIS America and XSEED. There is innovation going on there no one buys it though. If you happen to own a PSP I would say go check out Ys Seven since it's honestly some of the most fun I've had with any game for a long time. If you own a PS3 try Tales of Graces F. I didn't get it myself due to a bad experience with hating characters from a eariler game in the series but the people who have played it only have good things to say. For Wii once again Xenoblade with statements mirroring the Tales of Graces F ones. There's plenty of great games coming out of Japan the problem is websites don't even bother noticing them. Also I don't know any for 360 since it's not very popular in Japan in the first place so I don't know every japanese game coming out on it.

To be fair, EC didn't say there weren't any exceptions. I think they were mainly referring to Final Fantasy and that ilk. Games that have huge budget movie cut scenes but still have menu-based combat.

This doesn't change that they did no real research, misinformed a ton of people and claimed their opinion as fact. Square Enix do NOT make all RPGs that come out of Japan. There are tons that come out that don't focus on those at all it's not accurate at all it's a generalization that has no facts behind it.

Read my post again.

They said that it was not indicative of all JRPGs ever. They even listed their own examples of ones that do it right.

SonOfVoorhees:
They do create good games, such as jrpgs. But my issue is that they are cliche now. All the characters are the same, similar stories - they need more originality. Im playing FF13-2 and its deja vu when talking to people and seeing the characters. Every statement being folowed by the statement repeated in question form eg."We will find Lightening" "Will we find Lightening?"
Its annoying. Also the same characters moaning about being weak eventhough they have now battled and killed 1000 monsters and 3 bosses (thats Hope).

They are still enjoyable to play, they just need to shake things up a bit, make a different kind of rpg. Different artstyle instead of the cliche anime style - Im aware that the jrpg style, but its overplayed and they need something different to get people interested again. Maybe one with a more realistic style?

Play the Shin Megami Tensei games (Persona, Digital Devil Saga, Devil Summoner).

As for me, i feel the japanese developers/publishers etc are too wrapped up in the incredibly Xenophobic 'nature' of japanese audiences which almost always means we get either a stripped out version of game or nothing at all, which for me is enough to condemn most Japanese developers to death.

DVS BSTrD:
Hell they could probably be making a profit on what they have out now if they weren't so stingy with the localization.

^^^ This. They don't bring over stuff people are actually interested in. Instead they bring over half-hearted, flashy, "Westernized" stuff like FFXIII or putting Japanese series in the hands of "western" douches like they're doing with DMC. Admittedly, FFXIII sold like lubricant at a brothel, but it wasn't cause they put a more western spin on it, it was because it was an FF game and twitch-based menu navigation is, apparently, really fun for some people.

Look at the hell and high water that people needed to go through to get Xenoblade and such published. Hell, we're just now getting Tales of Graces on a console that people are actually interested in and even with that there's almost zero advertising push for it.

They need to realize there's nothing wrong with working the niche audience. Remember, gaming used to be a niche thing, now everyone wants to make $500million games and are shocked when the game doesn't sell up to their ridiculous expectations. If they actually scaled back their production costs and made $40-50 games instead of $60+ ones, they'd be able to appeal to that smaller audience and still profit. Heck, if the over-all costs were lower, they may even be able to gamble with something unique. Look at what NIS, Atlus and their ilk are doing. They know they're not going to sell a million copies, and their production reflects that which allows them to profit.

News today is full of polarization. On the one hand there's this, of which you can wonder how news-worthy it is, since the situation of the Japanese game industry is really a matter of opinion at the moment. And why would we take this guy's opinion over the next one? I mean it's not like one developer (on the composing side of things might I add) can possibly speak for the entire Japanese gaming industry.
On the hand, you then have articles on this site that predict an apocalypse-scale doomsday brought to you by Anonymous. So between this and that I don't really know what speed of newsday it is today.

Greg Tito:
"Creating videogames is a service," he continued. "If you can't, or don't want, to see and meet users around the world, I don't think it's possible to provide the entertainment they want."

Truer words were never said.

You can't keep doing the samething if no-ones interested

 

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