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”."

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miyamoto2088d ago (Edited 2088d 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.

miyamoto2088d ago (Edited 2088d 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.


Minato-Namikaze2088d ago (Edited 2088d 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.

Dno2088d ago (Edited 2088d 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.

antz11042088d ago (Edited 2088d 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.

mandf2088d ago

the walking dead won goty from vga

antz11042088d ago

@ mandf, my bad, thanks for clearing that up. meant best xbox game.

mandf2087d ago

no problem it's nice to see a fellow gamer that isn't sensitive.

maniacmayhem2088d 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.

ThyMagicSword2088d 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 ...

bicfitness2088d 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.)

ThyMagicSword2088d 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.

bicfitness2088d ago (Edited 2088d 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.

HarryMasonHerpderp2088d ago (Edited 2088d 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.

ChrisW2088d ago (Edited 2088d 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.

Inception2088d 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.

ChrisW2087d ago (Edited 2087d 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!

antz11042088d ago

The Uncharted series begs to differ.

madjedi2082d ago (Edited 2082d 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.

+ Show (3) more repliesLast reply 2082d ago
iamnsuperman2088d ago (Edited 2088d 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

mandf2088d 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.

darx2088d ago

Their games just suck!

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