Square Enix: Japanese Retail "Prejudiced" Against Western Games

As far as business execs at large Japanese companies go, Yoichi Wada seems rather forward thinking. He's been tackling discrimination in video games head on.

"Even now, there have been people in Japan using the label youge- (Western games) with a terribly discriminatory meaning," Wada said in an interview Japanese TV from last December in which he discussed Square Enix and Modern Warfare 2, which it published in Japan. "I'd like them to try it once. If they play it once, they'd realise how incorrect that label is."

As we previously mentioned, the term "youge-" has been used to separate Japanese games from foreign titles, which, until recently, were believed to have little or no appeal to Japanese gamers. "Game" (ゲーム)refers to video games. "Youge-" (洋ゲー)means something else - these games are different, they are the other.

Wada clarified the reluctance to embrace Western games in Japan somewhat. "Well, actually, I've found the person that is prejudiced is actually the retailer and not the actual players," Wada told website Edge Online. "The retailers have a prejudice against overseas titles, and they won't procure them."

But, Wada contests, something like Batman: Arkham Asylum from Square Enix's Western label Eidos caters to Japanese taste. "Arkham Asylum is like the best aspects of Metal Gear Solid, but evolved." Japanese retailers, give it a whirl!

An Audience With: Yoichi Wada [Edge]


    So the Japanese retailers aren’t promoting games or giving them store space because they are Western?, what backwards ass thinking is that?, these games are good, really good. It’s just stupid to put them under the same banner of “western”. I really do think Japan needs to open up its market more, I remember reading the articles about the top selling games in Japan and all of them were Japanese titles, some of them I had never even heard of. We don’t have that over here, even if sales of Japanese games are getting smaller, you still see every now and then a Japanese game getting into the top ten. Over here we don’t call MGS “that Japanese game”, they shouldn’t do it for our best titles over there. It seems like the rift between Japan and the West is getting bigger and bigger.

    Unfortunately there is still a lot of racism in Japan and my mate has felt it first hand. He lived there for two years and was constantly told he was American (hes an Aussie), he played baseball (Wtf?), he was funny looking and he wasn't religious.

    People would literally talk about him in Japanese right in fornt of him (which ironically he speaks fluently) and comment on things like his nose.

    Inevitably while over there he met a girl and fell in love (her name was Maki I think) but her parents refused to let her be with him just because he was western so he was forced to call it quits and continue through life without her.

    Now, I'm not saying every Japanese person is racist and unaccepting (far from it) but sadly as the west and countries like Australia try to pride themselves on multiculturalism and acceptance, places like japan seem to be way behind the eight ball and almost the other way around.

      Then again although 'Australia try to pride themselves on multiculturalism and acceptance' its not really true, when i arrived here from the UK around 7 years ago i'd always heard 'australias has multicultural society', but once id been here a while i realised it wasn't true, everywhere has its racists and ive met more racists in australia then i ever expected.

        It depends mate, One of my good freinds is from England and I'm married to an Italian girl so you do the maths. Although there is defiantly some hefty rivalry between our two countries especially in sport, Australia’s still wonderful place to be.

        Do not worry Dilbert. There will be bigots everywhere. I am Australian with a South American background, yet I was given racist treatment by Canadians online in Modern Warfare 2 even.

        Also you are misusing the statement. It is true that we are trying, and we have succeeded to some degree. However unlike myself and many others, there are still groups of people that ignore the efforts and cause trouble because they feel being retarded is cool, or just want attention and publicity if they go far enough.

        How this form of stupidity still exists in a world hell-bent on evolving I will never know.

    It's good to see Square Enix, one of the largest publishing companies in Japan, embracing more and more Western titles and the video-game market of places like US, Europe and Australia.

    They can really piss Japan off buy not producing or publishing any more Japanese games and turn their main goal to Western video games. They wouldn't - but they hold the rights to many many franchises.

    I guess you could look at it with the situation of the Xbox. I don't see the Xbox becoming the PS3 of Japan, not even with whatever comes after the 360. But eventually, perhaps, it sell better and find some sort of success in Japan. It's going to take time before most Western titles get hyped before release and have those big launches like Final Fantasy.

    But if he is right and it is the retailers, then its going to be a hard problem to solve. Consumers, not so much.

    The problem often is the retailers. The vast majority don't want to buy games that there is no brand loyalty for, but there is no brand loyalty because the customers don't know what they are.

    In most retail stores there is no Xbox display whatsoever. The places that carry any Xbox stuff at all have a couple of old games, overpriced and thrown in the corner. The notable exception to this is Yodobashi. They almost always have a big, bright, up to date Xbox display and game catalogue.

    The same goes for PC games. They say that Japanese people don't like them, but I play with and against them all the time. There is simply nowhere to try or buy PC games in general. Again, the esxception is Yodobashi and occasionally Sofmap.

    I honestly can't tell if the consumers themselves are prejudiced, because they never have the opportunity to show us if they are or not.

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