Keiji Inafune: Japanese Developers Have No Motivation

Keiji Inafune has always been one of the more outspoken Japanese developers, going as far to declare that "Japan was over" at a TGS press conference a couple of years back, but this time he has taken things to a new level with a three hour interview that goes over his problems with Capcom, his reasons for leaving and the current issues Japan is having with games development in general.

Neogaf user Cheesemeister has painstakingly translated the entire interview, and it's an absolute must read for anyone interested in Japanese development or games in general.

Here are a few choice quotes.

"There are a lot of people who take their company's commitment for granted and don't work as hard as they should. This could be said of the entire industry, and of course Capcom is no exception."

"Working as hard as you can is your own loss. Not working hard becomes more advantageous. But doesn't that get in the way of making games? You can't make good games by just taking it easy."

It really is worth reading the whole thing. You can find the entire translated interview here

Translation of Keiji Inafune's Capcom departure interview [Neogaf] A big thank you to Cheesemeister at Neogaf for taking the time to translate the interview.


    Hence why GT5 will be the greatest game that has ever been conceived!

    Polyphony never stop working!


      Hopefully they can take the "greatest game ever conceived" and turn into a "game that actually gets released", instead of just working on it forever.

    Nothing against the story Mark, but we hear this all the time from the Japanese developers - I partly agree and partly disagree. It's not something unique to the Japanese market.

    Games are costing more and more to develop, people are less inclined to take risks because of the potential for a significant loss, so when they strike a franchise they want to milk it (there must be 30 Final Fantasy games by now, right?). And why not, you need a guaranteed source of income. To suggest there is a heightened risk of failure and layoffs in Japan is naive: our own developers seem to be dropping like flies and in the recent past we've seen big layoffs in Canada and companies like MS shutting studios down. Western devs often claim to give up food and sleep as development cycles near end, just to get everything finished.

    Inafune also briefly mentioned the benefit of having independents in Western markets: it does help with innovation when they're free to take risks, income is important but I think most considered themselves lucky to get a RoI. Japan only suffers in this respect because their market is so isolated commercially - an Australian or US indie can distribute an english game all over the world, whereas a Japanese localised game is going to have a significantly reduced market options. Either way I expect there's less incentive to do it because the game just doesn't get enough exposure in a limited market.

    But overall, I don't think the Japanese are doing too badly. They've got Sony, Capcom and Nintendo, while devs like Platinum are coming out with Bayonetta and Vanquish. If the Japanese business model needs a change, worlwide it needs a change because it's all the same. Then again, maybe he's just (in part) saying "Hey! Hey! Look at us, we're still cool!", which is nice if you can get the media.

    Good interview but a bit abstract, a bit too much waffling.

      Yeah, I felt like I had to go through a lot of waffle to get to the meat of things. Still, great to read something where someone has been so open.

    Oh please Mr Inafune, don't blame your own failings on 3 games in a row on the Japanese industry. The industry may not be in it's greatest form right now but it has certainly brought us great games this generation.

    Of course there's no motivation left for Japanese developers. Every Monster Hunter/Final Fantasy/Pokemon/generic JRPG will release and sell millions of copies in their backyard regardless of quality or innovation.

    I understand wanting to be in your comfort zone but Pokemon and Dragon Quest etc have barely evolved in decades. And every time something wants to experiment with something different (FFXIII) it's greeted with derision in the West, but STILL pulls a massive profit.

    This speaks more about the Japanese consumer than it does about the developers. If the customers were more discerning, they'd actually put the fear of God back into developers to evolve. But if every game's a surefire success, why bother? Especially when whatever you push out will still make a tonne of money? If these companies were making 'Western' games, they'd sink faster than Midway.

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