With exception to Nintendo, Japanese game-makers suck

Or so says the New York Times:

“I look around Tokyo Games Show, and everyone’s making awful games; Japan is at least five years behind,” said Keiji Inafune, 45, head of global research and development at Capcom and one of Japan’s most prominent game designers.

“Capcom is barely keeping up,” he said in an interview at the show, which ended Sunday. “I want to study how Westerners live, and make games that appeal to them.”

“Japan used to define gaming,” said Jake Kazdal, a longtime developer who has worked at Sega in Tokyo and the American game publisher Electronic Arts. “But now many developers just do the same thing over and over again.”

Nintendo has been the major exception, a Japanese game company that has remained dominant. The company, based in Kyoto, reinvented the industry with its Wii home console and wandlike remote, which was introduced in 2006, luring new casual players into the market while setting an industry standard in motion control.

What do you think: is there really a dichotomy of quality? Are the Japanese playing fewer games? Or are Japanese developers suffering from a Western-inferiority complex?


  1. I think this blog post is seriously lacking enough context to make any sort of educated comment. Does he mean financially behind? Technologically behind? And by technologically, does he mean the pointless, diminishing-returns, graphical arms race?

    Needs more context.

  2. Actually, everyone has been talking about this, even before the Tokyo Games Show: both Japanese developers AND gamers seem to be stuck in a rut. What used to be the very definition of cool/sexy/quirky in games coming from Japan has been done and redone for more than five years. Even Nintendo, while being at the forefront of originality in application of technology, seems to be playing it marginally safe when it comes to game themes.

    Is Japan losing touch culturally with the rest of the World? Did they get so used at defining what was cool in animation and gaming that they just stopped trying? (Miyasaki being the exception in animation just like Nintendo is in gaming, of course).

  3. I think they lost sight of who their customers were. They used to make Japanese games for Japanese gamers, and Western gamers liked what they made and bought into them as well. In the last couple of years the Japanese companies have been trying to making Western style, but ultimately inferior to genuine Western games, that neither Western gamers nor Japanese gamers buy into. Else they try to make ‘super Japanese’ games – so quirky and idiocentrically Japanese that they don’t at all resonate with their home markets, and despite being of the type beloved by the more eccentric Western buyer, were always a small niche market. Thus both paths result in fail.

    Top that off with an inability to tap the modern hardware. This was due to the HD platforms’ adoption of shader units – the result was that nobody knew how to properly work on them outside of PC developers – thus the graphics and shooter obsessed PC studios ended up ruling the development roost in the West (to the detriment of all gameplay innovation, genre diversity, family friendliness or economic sensibility) while the Japanese studios, working from a traditionally weak local PC market and development capability were left twisting in the wind by the hardware. Combine that with a total willing ignorance to anything Nintendo was doing (I guess a bunch of reverse gajin doofuses high up in the companies wanted to look cool in front of Mark Rein), and you can see how this ‘collapse’ has come about. The hilarity is that sales records are still being broken in Japan, but almost uniformly on the platforms they ignore. Perhaps the 3DS will reverse the trend of stupidity.

  4. USA USA USA!!! Vs. japan, the colony.

  5. I don’t get it…. I believe that there are plenty of Japanese game developers that are just fine and go neck to neck with American game companies…

    Konami is great with Kojima working on the MGS series. (I loved MGS4)

    Square Enix is an amazing company with great RPG games. (I loved FFXIII)

    Team NINJA is a pretty good company considering their last game… (I loved Metroid Other M)

    Polyphony is masterful with racing games… (Gran Turismo 5 looks SEXY and BEAUTIFUL!!!!)

    Atlus keeps giving me surprising fun. (Trauma Center was good)

    From Software is a Japanese developer that created Demon’s Souls… (Pretty good game by the way)

    I still love Capcom even though RE5 was HORRIBLE… I still love RE4, Ace Attorney

    Let’s not forget Level 5 with Professor Layton…

  6. Well, I’ve read about this on the internet for the past year or two, japanese game designer after designer is saying this. I’ve actually had this opinion for years. I think the one thing I don’t like about Japan is it’s video games, for the most part. Current ones anyway. And I’m a Nintendophile saying this.

  7. I think Japan just doesn’t have as good of drugs as the Western world.

  8. I think it’s a mass conspiracy, and they’re just waiting for us to get our gaming guard down (level up!) and then BAM! They hit us with a game we never expected! Yeah? YEAH??? No, me neither. No, I just think that they’re just running out of ideas, but with the Wii, DS, PS3, Xbox360, you’d think they’d be going bonkers with ideas. But it doesn’t surpise me in the least.

  9. Please. Japanese developers are doing just fine! I mean, look at Team Ninja and Metroid Other M. Utter brilliance.


  10. I still prefer japanese games…

  11. Problem is Japanese are old….no young creative blood

  12. i agree with AC. if you want something creative you have to look for younger people. its true that experiance will get you good programmers and other stuff but you need young people to design games because they are willing to take the risk and take that step and make good games. or that the game totally sucks. ether way. a 50-50 chance is better than a 20-80 chance (20 being making a good game).

Leave a Reply