So, everybody’s talking about what the Japanese creator of Mega Man *ahem* pardon me Rock Man, Keiji Inafune, said over the weekend as it pertains to the Japanese gaming industry. Take a look:
In a nutshell (a very bitter nutshell of a very sour nut,) he said roll the credits, the Japanese gaming industry is done. Judging solely from what we’ve seen from the Tokyo Game Show, I’d say he’s probably right. Albeit in an exaggerated, broad-shouldered-Space -Marine American sort of way.
Japan’s been losing a grip on their games industry for quite some time now. Their core gamers have been dragged kicking and screaming into the next generation even as Nintendo’s Wii has brought in what I loathe to call hoardes of new “casual” gamers uninterested any software that doesn’t say Sports somewhere on it.
Could a PS3 pricedrop and the imminent arrival of their only bonafide original blockbuster app Final Fantasy XIII (its roman numeral indicating number of years in the making?) be the answer?
In short, no.
The issue is a far more pressing one and it’s a matter of soul. Now this is just my opinion but I tend to think even the coolest most well executed games that come out of our games industry here in the West tend to be more muscle than soul (exceptions granted.) Japan’s approach to gaming has, in the past, been more spiritually engaging. We all know the problem of this console generation is that the boost in graphics (which is fast approaching photo-realism) and sound has put development costs through the roof and increased development time as well. This jump in technical splendor has not translated to a jump in the quality of the gaming experience. Quite the opposite for Japan where companies can’t compete with Western development houses and have yet to adopt a Hollywood like assembly line for their games. Not to mention Japan’s relative disinterest in online gaming.
Hell, the man in the above video who is saying “Capcom is still making good games” implies that Capcom is still Japanese when in actuality the game he is pimping “Dead Rising 2″ has been shopped out to a Canadian developer. Irony.
I know this post has been a jumbled mess, but the point I’m trying to make is that Japan can’t compete with Hollywood and that’s what the gaming industry outside Japan is now.
They either need to start working within that system (even more than they currently do,) or find a reasonable way to deliver soul quenching experiences on a smaller scale as they have with the Nintendo DS and to a certain extent the Wii. I grew up on Japanese games, and it’s sad to see them in a slump. Maybe the answer is something like the PlayStation Network or Xbox Live Arcade, where cheap fun games with unique ideas are having a renaissance.
Right now. Looking at Japan’s release slate, it looks like they just gave up.