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.