The Guy Who Made Bayonetta Is Not Interested In Valve and PC Gaming. That’s Common In Japan. [UPDATE 2]

Over the weekend, Hideki Kamiya — director of Resident Evil 2, Devil May Cry, Okami, Viewtiful Joe and Bayonetta — was asked over twitter about his opinion of Valve, Steam and PC gaming in general.

He responded thusly:

While Western readers may feel that Kamiya not knowing about Valve is akin to an American developer not knowing about Nintendo, the statement is not all that surprising in context. After all, Valve is best known for its work with PC games and the creation of the Steam download service — both of which are largely irrelevant in Japan. Despite PC gaming having such a stellar 2012 in the West, the second half of his tweet accurately represents the general feeling toward PC gaming in Japan — a total lack of interest.

How low exactly is the interest in PC gaming in Japan? Well, many of the most popular PC games of recent times have never been released here. That includes World of Warcraft, Starcraft II, Guild Wars 2, and Diablo III, just to name a few. Many cross platform releases don't hit the PC here either. In fact, Media Create, the go-to company for video game sales figures in Japan, doesn't even bother to track PC game sales.

In Japan, the PC is the system for Final Fantasy XI, Phantasy Star Online 2 (and other Japanese/Korean MMOs), browser games, visual novels, and erotic games.

Of course, the vast majority of PC gaming around the world these days is done through download services like Valve's Steam or EA's Origin. And while both services are available in Japan, they aren't that helpful for Japanese gamers.

Steam is a carbon copy of the US version, with all the games in English — as well as the games' descriptions. The only change is that any games set to be released in Japan (on the PC or any other system) are often blocked and unavailable for download. While the majority of Origin's stock is similarly the English versions of the games, they do have a few Japanese language versions of EA's first party titles on the store as well — so that's better than nothing.

CORRECTION: Japanese Steam is practically a carbon copy of the US version. Out of the 1706 games Steam has for sale at the moment, only 105 of those can be played in the Japanese language—and only around half of those have the game's description in Japanese. Moreover, to find a game on Steam, you must type the name in English. Typing the name in Japanese results in zero matching results. And to top it off, games set to be released in Japan (on the PC or any other system) are sometimes blocked and unavailable for download.

While the majority of Origin's stock is similarly the English versions of the games, they do have a few Japanese language versions of EA's first party titles on the store as well—so that's better than nothing.

Thus "hardcore PC gamers," as we would think of them, are a small niche in Japan that find themselves often forced to import many of today's most popular PC games in a language they do not speak.

Hideki Kamiya also had a few words to say about "cloud" (ie. digital download) services such as Steam:

Again, this statement, while baffling to many in the Western world, is completely in line with the standard Japanese line of thinking. Japan is a country where CD rental is still a booming business despite that we live in a day and age where MP3 downloads are readily available.

This is because, by and large, Japanese people have had a distrust of purchasing things on the internet. This distrust is so commonplace you can go to your local convince store in Japan and pay cash for your Nintendo online game downloads so you don't need to give out any information online. Of course, as time has passed, Japanese people have been getting more conformable with buying online. A recent poll reported that now about 20 per cent of their daily purchases are made online.

And thanks to services like the PlayStation Network and the Nintendo eShop — and especially thanks to cell phone games with wealth of micro-transactions — "cloud" services are not quite as shunned as they used to be either. However, Kamiya's statements still reflect the general sentiment regarding PC gaming in Japan — for better or for worse.

UPDATE: The original headline for this story—"The Guy Who Made Bayonetta Is Clueless about Valve and PC Gaming"—has been changed. "Clueless" was a poor choice of words and we apologize for the negative connotation. That said, we appreciate Kamiya's colorful reaction to the story and hope that, now that we've changed the headline, those who couldn't get past that will be able to read the piece. - Stephen Totilo, Editor-in-Chief


Comments

    Is "cloud" really used in the right context here? I mean I see how it could possibly be refered to as such, but I feel the term digital store, or digital download is more appropriate? Steam has a cloud based saving service of course, not the same thing as buying a game and being able to download it off the net though.

      I think the usage of the cloud terminology is appropriate as steam purchases are not a one-time thing. You have purchased a license to download and use the software into perpetuity, meaning that you can download, play and delete the software as often as you like. If you choose to erase the local content, you still own the game and can access it from any PC you've installed steam on and authorised to use your account. If it was purely a one-time digital download (which I think was the case with buying music in the early days of iTunes) then I would agree that "the cloud" is not appropriate terminology.

      I think what's tripping you up is that steam, and really most online services like Xbox Live, PSN and sites like gog.com have been enabling this kind of digital content distribution since before "the cloud" was really an established buzzword. It really only became popular more recently when we were talking about cloud side rendering of games for services like OnLive.

        Yeah, like I said, I can see how it somehow fits within the term, but I don't think it is the right term personally. To me "cloud" services, are where you actually upload and store/backup info or files to be downloaded and used later, not shops where you have a licence to continually download something you paid for.

        Last edited 09/01/13 10:28 am

          I agree with you Riavan. You don't have to get the game data itself from the cloud, and the license is yours regardless of how you obtained it.
          A digital store is just a means to get the content. Yes the content is stored on the cloud, but it can still be obtained from a disc or other kind of media. You are not locked out of your license if you choose to retrieve the data in other ways.

    It will be interesting to see what happens in Japan if the whole console doom and gloom thing comes to pass. Even if it doesn't, the rumors about the PS4 seem to want to contradict what the Japanese want from a console (moving further away from physical media, introducing game streaming etc).

    Japan has an aging population, so id assume a lot of people are somewhat against change/ happy with the way things are.

    This makes me very, very, very sad, because there's few game releases I want more in this world than Bayonetta 1 or 2 for PC.

    Again, this statement, while baffling to many in the Western world, is completely in line with the standard Japanese line of thinking. Japan is a country where CD rental is still a booming business despite that we live in a day and age where MP3 downloads are readily available.

    Should anyone wish to pick at this statement, please visit http://www.riaj.or.jp/e/issue/pdf/RIAJ2011E.pdf
    It clears up the generalisation.

    I too am clueless about PC gaming and Valve. He sounds like a pretty cool guy.

    https://twitter.com/PG_kamiya/status/288814425081786368

    Since when has saying you don't know enough to comment on a topic equaled being clueless about it? I shouldn't have to quote Lincoln to an American, but "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt".

    Anyway, I don't think Valve is so huge in the industry you can expect every major developer everywhere to have an expert opinion on it. I certainly wouldn't call out a Western developer who said they didn't know enough about Nintendo, and aren't interested in hand-held gaming.

      This is an excellent point. The man was just been honest and giving his opinion and we get a 'classic' kotaku article out of it.Also I feel Valve is really not in the same league developer-wise as nintendo. For better or worse nintendo has survived for a very, very long time given the type of industry it operates in and that makes them exceptional and hence everyone knows the name nintendo.

    I can't be the only person who feels the same way about cloud and online purchases right?

    I used to avoid Steam's cloud service since my internet is pretty unstable. In fact I kept Steam offline for most of the time, turning it online only when an update for a game is available or if I want to download a new game that I recently purchased.

    But ever since I've bought a gaming laptop I find it's annoying fumbling around with the USB storage drive when transferring game saves between my gaming machines. So I turned on Steam Cloud service to help the gaming experience constant across two computers.

    As for Hideki believing that cloud is an unstable system even though Steam have been using it for years...no wonder Japanese game makers are struggling to find a footing nowadays. I've seen more articles with titles spouting "Japanese games (especially JRPGS) are disappearing!" just last year and I just seen a new one not so long ago-and 2013 has just started!.

    "Value" nope never heard of it

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