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Are Japanese Developers in Trouble?

"But it isn’t just tired game design that’s plaguing Japanese developers. One can only look at the Westernized bastardization of Resident Evil 5 or the glut of ultra niche cookie-cutter RPGs such as Cross Edge being pumped out and blame them for so many problems. Ask anyone that’s played a Japanese game in the past five years if they can remember the plot and almost invariably they’ll give the same response: No."

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MariaHelFutura2086d ago (Edited 2086d ago )

No they`ve made some of the best games of this gen.

GT5, MGS4, Demon Souls,VC and lots more. Feel free to add more. But those 4 are some of the best of this is gen in the respective genres.

ZgreenZ2086d ago

GT5 hasn't even been released yet, how can you say it's one of the best games of this gen?

Also, yes, they are in trouble, the Japanese market is a total minority in the video game world, and if developers don't focus on Western markets more, it will be impossible for them to compete in the video game market.

MariaHelFutura2086d ago

I own GT5P and you don`t need to much insight to know GT5 will be one of the best games released this gen. Even 360 fanboys who hate the PS3 would admit that.

No FanS Land2085d ago (Edited 2085d ago )

yes the japs have fallen from grace since this gen but they must NOT focus on westernising their games. It's what brought them to this stage.

EDIT: I don't mean by sales, They have less of their japanese touch.

But hey, it seems every company has lost a bit of its touch this gen (don't know why though), but I feel that japan has got more problems.

MinskyM2085d ago (Edited 2085d ago )

"yes the japs have fallen from grace since this gen"

Top selling console this gen, the 70 million selling Japanese Wii.

Soon to be 2nd place console this gen, the 42 million selling PS3 from the Japanese company Sony.

The best selling 150 million units worldwide console of all time, 10 years old and is almost outselling the only Western console this gen. Japanese once again.

Wii Sports (67.71 million)[67]
Mario Kart Wii (24.01 million)[67]
Wii Fit (22.61 million)[68]
Wii Sports Resort (20.94 million)[67]
New Super Mario Bros. Wii (16.73 million)[67]
Wii Fit Plus (15.22 million)[67]
Super Smash Bros. Brawl (9.48 million)[68]
Super Mario Galaxy (8.84 million)[69]

Top selling games this gen. All Japanese developed.

Yeah, poor Japanese developers...

No FanS Land2085d ago (Edited 2085d ago )

however, all those games are internally developped by nintendo, and whatever the big N throws, they're almost garanteed high sales. Also most of these games are casual games (bought by whole families and not dedicated gamers).

Unless you defend casual gaming as your biggest hobby, no problem, but I'm mostly referring to the 3RD party companies, Capcom, Namco Bandai, SE, etc, they're all trying to conformize to the western audience to get more sales,

(just look at those companies + MS fiasco : vesperia becoming 360 exclusive, star ocean, SE's slap in the face with FFXIII, Capcom with RE and DMC, also the New DMC)

So as I said before, it's not about sales (for me at least), it about the fact some japanese franchises are getting westernised to much.

EDIT: wiisports should not count in this list as it is included with every wii sold, except japan. Unless there's a new bundle, but then again I don't think N sold 67M standalone copies of wii sports.

Dragun6192085d ago (Edited 2085d ago )

No

Demon Souls, Vanquish, Bayonneta, Super Steet Fighter 4, 3D Dot Game Heroes, Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, Valkyria Chronicles, MGS4, Tales of Vesperia, Lost Odyssey, No More Heroes, Monster Hunter Tri, practically most of the Mario games, etc are all great games that were developed by Japanese developers this gen and that's not even including The Last Guardian and Gran Turismo 5 which will probably be one of the shining examples that will show Japanese devs are not in trouble.

The problem is most Japanese devs are on the DS and the PSP and Japanese Publishers are letting some of their franchises be developed by western devs rather than their own internal japanese devs. The only Japanese Publisher that may be in trouble is SE. And that's due to losing their touch with their own fans.

DragonKnight2085d ago

Focusing on Western markets is what destroyed the Japanese industry for the most part. Catering to the West is a bad idea, because the West is just as stale with its repetitive, cookie cutter/assembly line/generic shooters and supreme focus on graphics over substance.

Japanese developers need to NOT focus on the Western market and stick to their own style. Because most western fans of Japanese games hate the Western focus and miss that Japanese touch.

+ Show (3) more repliesLast reply 2085d ago
Stealth20k2086d ago

and mario galaxy the highest rated games of the gen. Japanese

xino2085d ago

I don't think so because you all look for sales and quality.

It's not the sales or quality of the Japanese games we are talking and worried about. But the overall process and content of their games!

Their games are always aimed for their own countrymen/women rather than other regions. Their games are always set in Japan and not other places. It's always the same content, gameplay, character personality and narrative you get in their games. It's like Japanese games are just copy n paste!

There's no innovative or new gameplay elements to their games a more as they do not like change, they prefer to stick to the same over used formula.

Such we are seeing quite innovative games and breakthrough elements from Japan. Like Demon's Souls with it's unique online integration technique system. Vanquish that totally changes how we play Third Person Shooters. Bayonetta that shows how an hack n slash can be done without limitations in terms of moves and control.

These are just small titles that shows little sign that not all developers in Japan are falling behind that there are some key designers who bring new things to gaming. While other designer in Japan gaming industry will never change and continue to use over used works and tech.

MGS4 is one of the best games ever created or the best. One thing that makes this so game unique is that it doesn't even feel like a Japanese game or a game made by Japanese!

What does GT5 has to offer? a game that couldn't even do real time damage and recently just got greenlight to have real time damage. What innovative feature does it have that other simulation racing games don't? All I see in GT5 is realistic racing like other games but with superior graphics.

Still doesn't change the fact that Japanese gaming industry is in trouble.

They are in trouble!

DragonKnight2085d ago

You obviously don't pay attention to Western games if you think they are any more innovative or diverse. Let's take a look at a typical American game.

It is typically a shooter, typically based on an actual war that has happened, or is happening now. It is therefore typically occurring in the area of said conflict, and the American soldiers are typically the good guys no matter what. Or, it's a space marine shooter. Same thing basically, only on another planet and with aliens. Then there's the GTA's, portraying the extreme of American stereotypes of crime, gangs, etc, all in.. you guessed it, the U.S.A.

You can't fault a Japanese developer for making a game based in Japan, but in case you haven't noticed that isn't really the case either. Take a look at games like Devil May Cry, Valkyria Chronicles, Demon's Souls... do they look like Japanese landscape to you?

You think Western games are any more innovative? CoD, same thing every year. Guitar Hero too. Sports games with nothing but updated rosters. Halo is no improvement either. Gears of War took stuff from older games and just put it in a different world with newer graphics. I can go on and on and on.

The Japanese industry's problem is that it listened to critics and people like you telling them they're doing something wrong. And when they changed, the true fans wanted what they always wanted, that Japanese style we came to love and wished never changed thanks to a very vocal, and very WRONG, minority.

It's why Demon's Souls old-school difficulty and feel appeals to so many. It's why Valkyria Chronicles is a sleeper hit. It's why people are clamoring for more of that and less of the guns guns guns and more frickin' guns. How many first person shooters do you frickin' need before it's enough?

As soon as the Japanese devs return to their roots and ignore what the west wants, they'll be fine.

dredgewalker2085d ago

@Dragon

Well said. Let's not forget it was the Nintendo that saved the entire console gaming industry when Atari lest the scene. I still enjoy a lot of Japanese styled games and recently I've played Vanquish and enjoyed the hell outta it even if the gameplay is a little short. Most of the disappointments are from Japanese devs trying to imitate western style games. I can already see the new Devil May Cry reboot utterly failing because of western adaptation. I don't dislike western styled games but I want my gaming diet to be diverse as much as I can and the absence of Japanese games will imbalance any healthy gamers diet.

EvilBlackCat2085d ago (Edited 2085d ago )

Oh yes they are in trouble and guess why... YUP! Western domination with versatile style.

so PS3 is the console of choice by gamers in japan?

ok cool

but the japdevs are in big trouble in Europe and America.

ABizzel12085d ago

The gaming industry as a whole is in trouble. Gaming is changing and for the hardcore it's not for the better. The casual market has expended beyond that of the hardcore, and companies are going to start catering to that audience more and more.

This is a fear among game developers and insightful gamers. Big budget games will be dropped in favor quick iphone or facebook like games for mobile devices. And that's something the entire industry has to be on the look out for.

unicronic2085d ago

You do point out some good games but....

GT5 is hardly a Japanese game certainly not in spirit of the article. It is a game that is designed to be globally appealing and reaches its' intended audience. MGS has always been designed with western influence in mind (Kojima has said that many times - Snake Pliskin being the starting point). VC & DS yes totally awesome games but VC has lukewarm sales (I loved it).

But still if you compare against Western games it is not unreasonable to believe the following:

- Dragon Age is what Final Fantasy once was in terms of grandeur and execution
- God Of War, Mass Effect, Uncharted, Gears Of Wars, COD, DeadSpace, Ratchet and Clank, Halo and many more games are far more globally appealing the most Japanese games
- After much battle FIFA not tops PES

HOWEVER, a few nuts the Western devs have yet to crack:

- StreetFighter style fighting games still made best in Japan
- Western Devs still don't sell all that well inside Japan (although around Asia is a different story).

The Japanese devs are fighting to reinvent themselves and the likes of Demons Souls (truly original), Vanquish and Bayonetta show that the future may be globally bright.

Seraphim2085d ago

guess a few people skipped the article & went straight for the post...

Quite frankly I think storytelling is a lost art in gaming period. Doesn't matter if it's Japanese or Western. There are few and far between that actually sustain a solid & memorable story...

as for the Japanese. I think in general, aside from some of their RPGs (obviously), I think they're just good @ making fun games. Arcade style games, pick up and play, etc. Just games that are fun play & have their very own feel. For instance I'm playing Vanquished finally atm & the story is meh through Chapter 3 but it's been a blast to play. On the other hand another game Platinum did was Bayonetta which I also recently finally played & the story was very forgettable but at the same time it was solid.

I just really think storytelling is... how do I put it... perhaps an undertone and afterthought in many games as of late. Be it Western or Japanese. Perhaps the driving desire to appease online players and more focus toward online components has lead to less stellar storylines and plots. Or perhaps we've just been around to see so much that very little satisfies us as gamers anymore. Whatever the case might be I think storytelling is just lost in gaming today and there are way to few games out there that truly capture something notable.

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George Sears2086d ago

"Time will tell if they can commit to a next evolutionary step, or if the Japanese game industry simply ceases to be."

Hopefully this would be the former instead.

alee2086d ago

These observations probably apply mainly to large developers and publishers, and for the same reasons that people often complain about large Western developers and publishers. They're all trying to make the safe business decision of doing what worked before. They'll be more willing to try new things if and when their sales drop.

Ozarot2086d ago (Edited 2086d ago )

I prefer a lot of the games I see from Japan over games from anywhere else. I've played many J-RPG's and loved most of them.

Tales of Vesperia for the Xbox360 was exquisite. It was plain out awesome. Star Ocean 3 and 4? They were extremely disappointing. Grandia 3? Disappointing. Grandia and Grandia 2? Awesome games. Grandia Extreme, not so much.

Final Fantasy 2/4 and 3/6? Really good and Extremely good. FF7? Extremely good. FF8? It had its' moments. FF9? Really good. FF10? Excellent. FF11? Interesting, but wasn't willing to fork a monthly fee to play. FF12? Extremely good. FF13? Hated it.

The Final Fantasy remakes? FF Advance... Way too easy to be called a remake. FF Tactics? Good, but I didn't care much for it.

Resident Evil got worse and worse as the games went on. The story line is the only thing really enjoyable to me these days... I think it happened when they hit RE3.

Games that NISAmerica sells? Most of those games I want, simply because they look enjoyable.

All in all... There are hardly any innovations people can use that haven't already been seen, so areas other than Japan are feeling the heat as well.

Can I remember the plot of any game I play? Depends on the game. Most Westernized games I cannot remember... Out of the 50 games I have for Xbox360, and 2 I have for PS3... Hm.

I haven't played either PS3 game, but I have seen MGS4 played. Then I went out and bought it despite not owning a PS3. The other was Valkyria Chronicles... I saw the anime, then I saw the game. The game had some uniqueness to it, so I decided to buy it as well, but a lot of that was because I liked the anime.

For the Xbox360, I remember a great majority of Bioshock, don't know much about the plot of Oblivion yet... Never played the story much... Armored Core 4 and For Answer, I know the plots for those.

All in all, I would have to say that I remember more Japanese plots than Western plots primarily because majority of my collection seems to be Americanized Japanese games.

All I have to say is... If I liked the game, I will remember the game. Best console ever? Super Nintendo/Super Famicom. Next in line? Playstation One.

You don't need innovations to make a good game... You need a good plot, good gameplay mechanics, and various other stuff to make the game good. Wasting your time to make innovations that may or may not work for the game while making the game WILL EASILY make or break the game.

Seems this post is pretty long. Hm. Oh well.

Neckbear2086d ago (Edited 2086d ago )

Some games simply DARE to SHOVE DOWN YOUR THROAT the GAME'S PLOT. AND IT'S BAD MOST OF THE TIME.

At least some Japanese games just use the plot as an excuse to show off awesome stuff. Western developers? WRRHAGH I SO MAD I'M ALWAYS SERIOUS HRRRAAAGH.

You need some comedy to spice things up, people!

Hell, mainstream Western games are horribly, horribly written. Japanese games? They don't even bother with the plot sometimes, and don't forget they're games. 'Sides, they usually are light-hearted, wich is always a plus. Sometimes they ARE great plots, though, and that's when the game itself is awesome because of it.

Now, second, I kinda agree with you. I've played alot of JRPGs and enjoyed most of them, but it's because two things:

-They barely take themselves seriously (Ar Tonelico and Grandia come to mind. Hell yeah, those games were awesome!) or include some jokes and comedy between characters that simply makes you laugh (I'm lookin' at you, Tales of Vesperia!) instead of trying TOO hard for a plot,

-Or simply are incredibly well-written (Hello, NieR!), have some interesting topics presented through the plot, etc.

Personally, I like it when games mix comedy with seriousness, and it's something Japanese writters do VERY well. Their plots aren't MIND-BLOWING (most of the time), but their character development, background stories and pure comedy is often spot on.

A few games that did this exact charm Japanese games have, when it comes to plot, were Black Isle games. They simply were well-written, with brilliantly placed jokes and dark humour here and there.

On a side-note, Valkyria Chronicles Anime was awful compared to the Game. It completly destroyed character development, personalities, and the plot overall.

The Game is just better, and in this case it's really true.

On ANOTHER side-note, I just feel like Western developers try too hard to take stuff so seriously it becomes a borefest of character 1 interacts with 2 with cliche dialog and 2 says "fuck", "bitch", or any other profanity on the book, then 1 responds with MORE profanity, and it's not even funny. After that there's grimdark dialog everywhere, gray morality, deaths, drama, and...zzz...

Yeah. I simply don't like the way they present the plots, it's too cliche and non-inspired most of the time. Oh, the irony, but at least Japanese games include funny jokes and badass (as well as hilarious) main characters!

Ozarot2086d ago (Edited 2086d ago )

Black Isle games... I don't think I will ever hate Baldur's Gate, Neverwinter Nights or Icewind Dale. There were times when I played on the normal setting of Baldur's Gate 2, did a fight that I should have won easily, but died because I freakishly missed with regular attacks 90% of the time and the enemies landed criticals 30% of the time while only missing about 20%...

I haven't played Valkyria Chronicles yet, so I have absolutely nothing to compare the anime characters to. I found them to be relatively fine on their own, but maybe once I do play the game, I will be able to do such a thing. One thing I did like about the anime though... It had a huge factor that I hadn't seen in a game or anime before. The victors of the battles are the ones that write history to make themselves be the good ones.

The anime wasn't poor, nor was it excellent. I found it to be plain old good. 6.5 to 7.0 area. As you can see, nothing spectacular, but it was memorable.

cnagel472086d ago

the RPGs they develop alone will keep them going for a while.

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