Submitted by PureSophistry 595d ago | opinion piece

How The West Was Lost: The Growing Indifference Of Western Gamers Towards Japanese Games


"In March last year, at a screening for “Indie Game: The Movie”, a panel was arranged containing two of the stars of the documentary. One was Jonathan Blow, developer of Braid, and the other was Phil Fish, developer of the unreleased (at the time) Fez. During the Q&A session, an unnamed Japanese developer asked the panel what they thought of modern Japanese video games. Fish’s response was about as blunt as they come:

“Your games just suck“.

Predictably, the comment caused a small out roar amongst the gaming press. Many sites seemed set to demonize Fish, despite his unapologetic yet semi-explanatory comments later on Twitter, where he clarified that he wasn’t a racist, didn’t judge the Japanese as a race or culture, but disliked their games, or at least, their modern games. It was a sentiment shared by fellow panelist Jonathan Blow, who described most modern Japanese games as “joyless husks”." (Borderlands 2, Fez, Indie, Industry, PC, PS3, Tech, Xbox 360)

miyamoto  +   595d ago
Microsoft. Look at what you have done to the gaming industry.

Bigger money does not necessarily mean better games. Your "Go Big or Go Broke" take on gaming has taken its toll on so many game developers' minds and pockets.

Your billions has disrupted the industry with devastating effect like an atom bomb to the flourishing industry the Japanese has nurtured since the 1980's.

If Japan wasn't able to protect it you can be damned sure Japan will avenge it.
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miyamoto  +   595d ago
First of all Japanese games are made for the Japanese people.

Fish is as foul mouthed disrespectful as can be.

Its not the Japanese developers' fault that people outside Japan loved them in the 80's and 90's!
Everything these western game makers know they owe to decades of Japanese work and progress.

Underlying Principles, Creativity and Talent not Money. Street Fighter was created as a passionate hobby, for crying out loud!

The west can imitate how games are done but they can not fully understand the spiritual depth of how it is done by the Japanese. That is why Japanese games endure time and space. They are the extension of their creators' soul and spirit.

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Minato-Namikaze  +   595d ago
I play japanese games and I'm not japanese. Japanese devs took the wrong route by supporting MS early this gen, coincidently that's also when japanese devs started to struggle. The ones that started to support ninty and sony are starting to do better, I hope lessons were learned by them.
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Dno  +   595d ago
@ Minato-Namikaze

you are 100% correct. If SE didnt have JRPG ONLY on xbox (looking at you start ocean) and other JP devs didnt jumo ship at the start of the gen more JP people would have bought the ps3 and more games would be selling in JP.

JP screwed themselves this gen by jumping ship and supporting a console that was not supported by JP players. they think they can force the xbox on a userbase that doesnt want it and now they are suffering for it. of course now you see a lot more ps3 only JP games like Ni NO KUNI etc.
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antz1104  +   595d ago
Well, on the otherside Microsoft published Halo 4 and it was GOTY at VGA's. They went big and it paid off. Great title. Just a counterpoint to your "bash microsoft" argument. I think its idiotic to blame one companies success for anothers failure.
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mandf  +   595d ago
the walking dead won goty from vga
antz1104  +   595d ago
@ mandf, my bad, thanks for clearing that up. meant best xbox game.
mandf  +   595d ago
no problem it's nice to see a fellow gamer that isn't sensitive.
maniacmayhem  +   595d ago
First of all MS was the one who catered to the Japanese. They brought over Blue Dragon, Lost Odyssey, two VERY traditional Japanese RPG's. They also made it a point to focus on a lot of other RPG's for their system in an effort to cater to the Japanese audience.

@Minato and DNO:
"Japanese devs took the wrong route by supporting MS early this gen, coincidently that's also when japanese devs started to struggle."

Japanese supported MS because it was the first HD system out and they saw the mass appeal for the system by the public. They also knew/saw the price of the ps3 was extraordinary high and that the regular consumer would not pick it up.

Japanese devs also struggled because western devs were putting out better product plain and simple. It has been stated many times in past articles that a lot of Japanese devs were stuck in this 90's development process which was old and outdated.

Western devs were putting out better quality games that appealed not only to the niche japanese market but to a mass wider audience. Japanese devs saw this and tried to emulate it but struggled due to old practices. Which i believe is a reason you saw some key figures leave these well established companies to start their own and also we saw a lot of japanese developers outsource their main IP's to western devs.

Nothing to do with MS or them backing them.
ThyMagicSword  +   595d ago
The western is lost, with all their shooters and space marine games, maybe the west holds the key to good graphics, but they do not hold the key to good gameplay and originality. Come on, you cannot look at Hollywood when you are making games ...
RTheRebel  +   595d ago
well said
bicfitness  +   595d ago
Actually China and Korea (South, obviously) are miles ahead of the West in terms of both tech and design. I'm Canadian btw, so I'm not speaking with vested interests. But if you follow the trends, or watch markets and business, its clear where the profit and growth is happening and its not on this side of the Atlantic. And yes, the East (China, mostly) also are the largest polluters, so its not all rosy over there. (Even though Canadians, per capita, produce the largest volume of waste, which is shameful - I recycle and do everything green and sustainable that I can, for what its worth.)
ThyMagicSword  +   595d ago
China are the largest polluters, right, but most of eastern games are not made in china, they are made in japan. I was refering to the videogame-industry. I respect you for your respect of nature and "green", while the kiddies from USA-City do not seem to be interested in keeping the world green and clean. I come from europe, and I would not want to live in most asian countries, too much intoxication and pollution for my taste, the air is not all that fresh over there. That does not change the fact, that most western videogame-makers stare at hollywood for inspiration, instead of drawing inspiration from nature/art/literature or memorable japanese videogame-series. When I think of videogames, I think rather of japan, when I think of movies, I think of hollywood (USA), when I think of art, I think of italy, when I think of the two world wars, I think of germany, it depens where something is born. The best videogame-series are born in the east, in japan. Do not understand why western developers have that arrogance to call japanese games "joyless husks", they should watch and learn from them.
bicfitness  +   595d ago
@Thy, most Eastern games are actually made in China/ Korea. Sorry, but your information is incorrect. Japan makes a lot of content, but China/ Korea simply make more. Mobile is a huge thing over there, and I swear one hundred new KRPGs pop up on Android each day. You're talking from a console only perspective, which is where I think that the confusion set in.
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HarryMasonHerpderp  +   595d ago
I think a good mix of east and west is what the industry needs. Some games are to "western" all that dude bro crap and constant shooting, some Japanese games are just too "Japanese" and full of anime clichés that turn most western gamers off. We need a good mix of both.
Games like Metal Gear Solid and Demon/Dark Souls, The old Final Fantasy games and Resident Evil, a good example of games that cater to both Japanese tastes and western tastes.
I still love my anime cliché games and some dude bro games to an extent but I think we need more neutral games again instead of one extreme to the other.
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ChrisW  +   595d ago
Originality?!? I take it you don't understand they author's complaint about [cookie cutter] Manga style story telling?

A very, VERY large majority of JRPGs start with a character who is a nobody, but soon finds that he has awesome untapped powers to save the world... and he quite often fights the bad guy at the beginning and get his arse whooped, then goes on to learn life's hard lessons which in turn gives him the confidence to beat the bad guy.

Just like in almost all Manga.
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Inception  +   595d ago
"A very, VERY large majority of JRPGs start with a character who is a nobody, but soon finds that he has awesome untapped powers to save the world... and he quite often fights the bad guy at the beginning and get his arse whooped, then goes on to learn life's hard lessons which in turn gives him the confidence to beat the bad guy. "

Lol, you don't have a clue don't you?
If you played JRPG such as Shin Megaten series, Disgaea series, Atelier series, Ys series, Demon Souls, or Valkyria Chronicles, you will not find that type of story.

The funny thing is, Nippon Ichi made a game called "Zettai Hero Project: Unlosing Ranger vs Darkdeath Evilman" with that kind of story but they add a silly twist (great game btw) just to mock you westerner who always complaining story about nobody with untapped potential and can save the world.

Besides, aren't the majority of western comic books always have this kind of story too? Like this:

- Spider Man: Peter Parker is a nobody and a nerd. But after some radiation spider bite him, he had superpower. It made him wear a mask and turn as superhero who can save the world from bad guys. Green Goblin also kick spidey ass for the 1st time.

- Captain America: Steve Rogers is nobody and lymphatic man. After the US military injected steroid to him (yeah, you can call it super soldier serum) he had big muscles and superpower that he can kick Nazi's / bad guys ass to save the world.

It's funny to see some western gamer complain about story in manga / JRPG, but some of their product also had the same type / identical story like manga.

Btw, if you read manga such as Death Note, Black Lagoon, Vagabond, Great Teacher Onizuka, Kurosagi, or Ghost in the Shell, you will not find the stereotype of 'a nobody with untapped potential who wants to save the world'.

Even i will reccomend manga called '20th Century Boy' to you and it's about saving the world that..even Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, or any western comic book publisher can only dream to have that kind of originality in their comic books. Give it a shot and i hope those titles will open your mind about manga.
ChrisW  +   594d ago
First and foremost, I said, "almost all". And you also must remember that 90% of RPGS made never make it outside of Japan. So that makes the numbers seem lower to you.

Now, you gave a couple examples of those hat didn't fit the cookie cutter mold, here's why:

-- Ys was first a game, then a series of OVAs covering the first two games, then 2 graphic novels were written.

-- Megami Tensei was loosely based on a novel (not a Manga) called Digital Devil Story.

-- Disgaea was first a game, then Manga, then Anime.

So as you see, that's why they are different from the cookie cutter mold. But there are obvious Manga influences in them.

As for western comic based games, there is NOT an over-saturation in the market... And besides, how many western comic based RPGs are there? Since I don't know of any, I'm going to either say there are NONE or maybe ONE.

As for 20th Century Boy, I saw all three of the live action movies in the theater on the days of their release. How? I live in Japan. Which leads us to the number of Manga I've read. I've read some of Death Note and Ghost in the Shell, however none of the others you listed... Nonetheless, I have read a phenomenal amount. I normally go to 'Book-Off' a 2nd-hand store here and pick up 5 or 6 Manga for a 100 yen each, every month or so.

So, yeah, I read Manga. And yes... I HAVE A CLUE!
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antz1104  +   595d ago
The Uncharted series begs to differ.
madjedi  +   589d ago
@thy And your just as bad as a fps knuckle dragger bashing jrpg's for dated graphics or turn based battles or anime influenced characters/graphics.

"but they do not hold the key to good gameplay and originality." Thats nice because neither do eastern games, judge each game on it's own merits, not oh it's a western developed game it's inferior or vice versa.

"with all their shooters and space marine games" Just like heavy rain or la noire or lbp, typical ignorance and blindness, same shit different team.

As a fan of japanese games, stfu your just as bad as haters of japanese games.

If the west is lost then the east is dragging the few talented japanese dev studios to the bottom of the ocean.

Short of mgs4, last guardian, or gt5 and a handful of others, japanese devs haven't left the ps2 era yet. I know look at the jrpg's, ps2 games with better resolution.

And i see the other western game's bashing idiot is here as well. What a cute couple.
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iamnsuperman  +   595d ago
I am generally not a fan of their art style and narrative quality. The narrative style just doesn't , for me, works as well as what western developers put out. The eastern developers narrative and art style definitely suits the eastern culture more than the western culture
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mandf  +   595d ago
It's not the gamers, it's the media. Most media outlets don't have translators and don't have access to japanese developers.
darx  +   595d ago
Their games just suck!
ThyMagicSword  +   595d ago
So-called Jonathan Blow has made only one useless download-game and yet he calls japanese games "joyless husks", he should be ashamed of himself. Let us see of how "joyless" japanese games are, once all the good Wii U or Playstation 4 games from japan arrive, I bet he will play them secretly in a corner of his apartment and his eyes are filled with tears of joy.
AdvanceWarsSgt  +   595d ago
Western games bore me much more so than Japanese games.
SpartanGR  +   595d ago
Darx are u 5? if so you won't probably remember Japan's contribution to gaming history. Respect to them, give them a chance to recover (although i'm quite happy with their games)
darx  +   595d ago
No,37! Played them in my teen years, not so much the last 10+ years. Boring EMO type crap is not for me. Same ole song and dance from the Japanese, no thanks! And as far as respect, it's video games!
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wheresmymonkey  +   595d ago
I think the articles a bit misleading. we still care about japanese games and they're still popular.

This month's big game is Japanese, the amount of fighting over DmC proved people still care about japanese games, the amount of ruccus everytime a new Nintendo or Capcom game come out, How much love Dark/Demon Souls and ni No kuni have gotten.

the west still enjoys Japanese games, What we dont enjoy are japanese games that attempt to cater to western audiences at the expense of their own unique character.
wollie  +   595d ago
Finally a logical comment.

Japanese games aren't bad when they are Japanese, they're bad when they try to be western.

That's the reason Xenoblade and ni no kuni are loved while FFXIII is hated. I used to play almost nothing but Japanese games on ps2 i even learned japanese in college so that i could play imports, but this generation has produced mostly crap from Japan.
DragonKnight  +   595d ago
G-cis  +   595d ago
nintendo and sony(although most of their IP`s are western centric) is still exist so japan is still relevant
j-blaze  +   595d ago
excuse me, 85% of gaming innovations came from japan alone!
and to me, the majority of the best games are Japanese even this gen, Xenoblade, Bayonetta, Dark Souls, Pokemon, MGS4, Lost Odyssey, ToV.. etc all top notch and best in their genres.... and look at Nintendo now, they have the best platformer: Mario Bros U, best action hack n slash: Bayonetta 2, best JRPG: Monolith Soft's X and soon best survival horror: Project Zero "nah this should go to Mikami's Project Zwei :P" with Wind Waker HD, whole new Zelda for WiiU, new SSB... OMG! Nintendo is the only company left that truly care about Japanese games

Japan is still and will always be the best!
CBaoth  +   595d ago
hahaha Nintendo?
The last two Mario games were copy/paste mediocrity. A quick buck. On the DS and Wii they were inventive 2D reboots capturing that retro feel with some modern gameplay mechanics thrown in.

Now that Nintendo has finally joined the HD era, will the plethora of Japanese devs forced to chase profit on aging technology finally be able to spread their wings? Hardly any Japanese console games have sold over a million this gen. I know children and teenagers can't fathom this correlation but sales do matter.

Or will cultural differences again curtail their abilities to reach the Western masses by releasing on a single platform? Hopefully Capcom realized this folly of short-term exclusivity over potential consumer base after both RE: Revelations and MH3 on Nintendo platforms have undersold expectations.

I'm not going to argue your opinion on games. To each his own. But this incessant bashing of the westernization of console gaming has got to stop. It holds no merit since most of the issues plaguing the Japanese companies, the industry themselves created.
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G-cis  +   595d ago
nintendo is a japanese company
so saying hardly any japanese console games sold over a million cant be more wrong
Alos88  +   595d ago
Why did the writer of this article put certain parts of some sentences in bold? At first I assumed it was for emphasis but it actually seems to be at random.
DragonKnight  +   595d ago
It's for SEO. Search Engine Optimization is a way to gain hits to your site but emphasizing key words for google and other search engines to look for. It's one of the ways the blogger sites can survive longer than a week.
cyhm3112  +   595d ago
Western games better than Japanese games?? hahahahahaha, NO!!!! Not even close, I have only played a handful good western games. Even this gen, western games aren't better, they just have better graphics and sell more.
Inception  +   595d ago
I'm tired about articles JRPG vs WRPG or East vs West. I'm enjoying God of War, Uncharted, and any game western dev / publisher made. Of course as long as it's good by my standard. It's the same too with games from eastern dev.

The funny thing is...in the end credit for Uncharted, CoD, or AC, i found a lot of programer / staff from east / asian working for those games. If they contributed for those games than we can't call CoD / AC 100% pure from west right?

It's the same with games from east such as Metroid or MGS. Everybody knew who Retro studios right? Metroid a japanese product but Retro is a western dev who made some of the best Metroid titles. And MGS...the voice actor (David Hayter, Jennifer Hale, etc) and even the composer, Harry-Gregson William are from west. They all contributed for making MGS is an MGS we all knew and love. So is MGS a product from west?

My conclusion is...it's pointless for debating 'why eastern game like this' and 'why western games like that'. Because video game is a universal medium. People around the world working together to make games that can bring fun / joy for everybody even they don't have the same nationality or religion. That's why i remembered that Michael ad from Sony:

In that ad, it's a sign that east / west doesn't matter. What important is we as a gamer always repect each other and having fun together. Cheers!
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Dlacy13g  +   595d ago
I don't think 100% all Japanese games suck...they don't. There definitely are good Japanese games out there. That said, my taste in games tends to keep me clear of most Japanese games. I think for me its predominantly the way in which they tend to tell stories that puts me off. All the lengthy dialogue to try and deliver elements that could have been done much more subtly just tends to bore me.
Urusernamesucks  +   595d ago
"Your games just suck"
Phill your the one to talk, im sure Fez is great but i dont see that many peoople who would say so about an 8-bit inspired game.

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