What's going on in Japan?
I believe the title says it all. Japan was once the "IT" country when it comes to games. But now North America has blown them completely out of the water when it comes to game development. Japan were the kings of the RPG genre (JRPG's) and Action/Adventure games, but now little of anything worthwhile comes out of Japan. We're lucky to get 2 - 3 good games a year out of Japan, and I just don't understand what's going on over there.
There are the Big 3, Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo. Of the 3 Sony and Nintendo are Japanese based companies, but most of Sony's content is now developed in the North America and European regions of their company, with little from SCJ making it's way over to the Americas. Is their contend coming to Japan only. Nintendo the house of Mario actually makes less of their franchises than you would think. A quick look at your Wii games will show you that Nintendo does a lot of outsourcing with their properties doing a good amount of business in you guessed it North America and Europe, but the Big N does keep most of their big franchises in house.
This bring me to the next group of developers/publishers. In North America we have EA and Activision, with newcomers trying to compete and doing a great job (Bethesda, Take-Two, and THQ to name a few). Japan's big wigs (excluding Nintendo and Sony) would be Capcom, Square Enix, Sega, Namco, and to a lesser extent Konami and Team Ninja (Konami makes one of gaming's best franchises, but what else).
Capcom has been hit or miss this gen. Standouts include Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Super Street Fighter 4, Monster Hunter, and Megaman arcade games. But Capcom has also had quite a few duds this gen sales wise, review wise, and fan wise. Dark Void, Bionic Commando, Devil May Cry 4 and the reboot, Lost Planet, and Resident Evil 5 were all big games for Capcom that wither fell flat sales wise, had poor review score, or upset fans in some kind of way. But the worst thing Capcom has done was giving fans the reach around. Capcom has been notorious this generation with DLC and re-releasing games over and over and over again (I'm looking at you Street Fighter 4). This kind of business practice will run any fan's loyalty into the ground, and Capcom needs to rethink things before doing it anymore than they already have. But that's not what this blog is about. This about game, and with Capcom like the rest of Japan there are tons of them missing. A quick skim through of what Capcom made during the previous generation and what they've made so far this gen is just sad. Where is Onimusha, Viewtiful Joe, Okami 2, Maximo, Darkwatch 2, Clock Tower, Capcom vs. SNK, Namco vs. Capcom 2, Strider 3, Dino Crisis 3, Darkstalkers, and Power Stone? All these franchises that you had where are they now. We're stuck in an endless mass of sequels and now is the time for something new or a reboot of a franchise that hasn't seen the light of day in over 6 years. Even if the games are released as PSN/XBLA titles just give us something NEW, and something new from Japan
Square Enix. You guys sucked hard this gen. I don't know what's going on over there, but you need to get your business in order. Having to wait 4 years for the first Final Fantasy was absolutely ridiculous, especially for it to turn out to be a bit underwhelming. The JRPG's released thus far have been B material at best. We still don't have FF13 vs., we still don't have FF13 PSP (move it over to NGP now), we still don't have Kingdom Hearts 3, we still don't have FF7 remake (not confirmed, but goodness they need all the help they can get) I mean what are you guys doing. Were you not ready for this gen, are you one of the developers who aren't ready for the PS4 and Nextbox? A look at the games they've made thus far for next gen console is absolutely abysmal and makes Capcom's look amazing by comparison. 90% of Sqaure's games have been made for Nintendo DS and PS2 with PSP just now getting some love after becoming really popular in Japan. With the information from that last sentence it's clear to see Sqaure's in it for the $$$, because they're not making games games for console that's for sure. It's a good thing they bought Edios, because now they have some games that look good.......wait that's Sqaure Enix Europe :(
Sega. Sega has been down and out in the dirt for a long time now. It seemed liked nothing was going their way, and they couldn't make a good game to save their lives. But along comes Platinum studios and with them Sega got they magic back.....somewhat. Sega has held the fort down for Japanese gaming, which is shocking considering has badly they were being talked about what a couple of years ago. But enough of the past with Bayonetta, Vanquished, and MadWorld under their wings (thanks solely to Platinum games) Sega has obtained a nice set of NEW POTENTIAL FRANCHISES. They've also developed highly praised Tactical-RPG Valkyria Chronicles, the well received Yakuza franchise, and theire finally pumping out some good Sonic games. Now all we need is a real Golden Axe, a new Virtua Fighter, Shinobi, Crazy Taxi, Shenmue, Panzer Dragoon, and whatever else you can pull out of there. Oh and give Platinum games any and everything they want since they're the best you have. As a matter of fact tell them to make the next Shinobi game. Oh and stop making those crappy movie games, I sure you trick some poor ignorant fool into buying them, but doesn't it hurt your soul to sell that trash to someone....it should, it should.
Namco. You guys are in the same boat as Capcom, maybe a little better. Namco has really had a lot of bad games, but they haven't had anything really good either. After a quick overview of all the games/franchises you have I can see you don't really have much to reboot either. You guys need some new franchise and bad. I liked Enslaved, Tekken 6 was OK, Soul Calibur 4 was OK, and Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 was pretty good, but there's nothing AAA in your library at all. You guys need to hire some people with big ideas and soon.
Konami. So now Kojima's pretty much calling the shots, since he's working on a new engine, has what 3 studios now, and working on MGS HD Collection, ZOE Collection, MGS Rising, a new IP, Contra, and that game about that Immortal guy. That's all I can ask for from you guys since most of your other stuff isn't geared towards me. I guess Suikoden 5, a good Silent Hill, and start working on expanding and getting some new IP's under your belt.
Team Ninja. WE'll see how you do without Itagaki, and with teh new Ninja Gaiden before I comment on you guys. So far you've been in the fame boat as Namco, but far worse. All you have is Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive. It's time to work on some new franchises, and start working on more projects (but leave the writing and storytelling to the original IP owners "Metroid Other M"), most importantly hire some screenwriters and build a new engine.
The best way to sum this up is with this statistic Japan owned 50% of the game market share, now they only own a mere 10%. So Japan wake, because we need you and we need you to innovate with some brand new Japanese titles.