If you were to ask a Japanese gamer if they preferred to play Western-made games with Japanese subtitles or dubbed audio, the results would be a surprisingly even split.
Want to know one of the only surefire ways to start a flame war online (other than posting Xbox 360 propaganda on a Sony fanboy forum or vice versa)? Go to any active anime fan community, and post a thread about how you like anime dubs. Within minutes, someone will invariably respond calling you an idiot who prefers an obviously inferior and bastardized product. And someone will respond to them, saying that some people just don’t want to have to read all of the dialogue, or want to watch it while they’re splitting their attention. Before you know it? Chaos has erupted.
Judging by the mini-controversy that erupted when it was announced that the English release of Final Fantasy XIII would not contain the Japanese audio, that same sentiment is prevalent in the gaming community as well: Do we want our Japanese-made games to come with subtitles, or do we want all the dialogue fully voiced? While we can argue that all day, it’s interesting to consider the reverse: What do the Japanese gamers prefer when Western-made games come out across the Pacific?
A poll by videogame publisher Spike attempted to answer that question, and the results? Well, the results were an almost even split: 49% preferred original audio with Japanese subtitles, while 47% favored full Japanese-language dubbing. So if you took a random Japanese gamer and asked him or her that same question, looks like the odds are even that it could go either way.
Clearly, this just means that more publishers should just include both subtitles and dubs on every localized game – with opinion so evenly divided, why not just let everyone choose to their preference?
If I want to play Uncharted 2 in Japanese, that should be my god-given right, dammit!