Japanese Games Less Popular Today Because Of Changing Tastes

Increases in the realism of video games are limiting the ability of Japanese games to appeal outside of their home country, according to the president of Nintendo.

"Because the expressions in games are becoming more and more photo-realistic, I imagine that the cultural differences in acceptance have started to be reflected more clearly," Nintendo chief Satoru Iwata told a group of investors in Japan last month. "I think this is the reason why western users tend to prefer software created overseas than software from Japanese software developers."

Iwata said he has seen the influence of Japanese-made games decline in the past thrree or four years, since the decline of the PlayStation 2. "Nintendo is doing what overseas software developers do not do, so Nintendo's software is selling relatively well also in foreign countries, but for the software oriented to enthusiastic game players, such as Call of Duty, the ones created by overseas developers are more mainstream in the overseas markets."

While Iwata didn't name any games other than Call of Duty to explain his theory, it's true that, during previous generations of gaming hardware, Japanese-made games, be they Resident Evils, Metal Gear Solids, Final Fantasys or others, were more consistently topping sales charts. American and European-made games appear up there more often now, specifically the likes of Call of Duty and Assassin's Creed.

The graphics theory, which Iwata made clear is just one possible culprit, is interesting, but it doesn't seem like it will translate into Nintendo, say, making more realistic-looking Mario games. "Of course, Nintendo will continue to run a business by creating Nintendo-like games," he said, "but we will not be able to meet the various tastes of consumers by only doing this, so I feel that it will become necessary to reinforce the development resources in the foreign countries. Therefore, I hope we will be able to show you something like that at E3."

E3 is when Nintendo will show playable versions of its new 2012 console. What might be running on it? Iwata's comments let the imagination run wild and suggest that, if there aren't great-looking Western-made games on it, Nintendo's got a problem.

Financial Results Briefing for Fiscal Year Ended March 2011 [Nintendo]


    I don't want too sound too critcal of Japanese games as there are a lot of them I really love. But I think it has less to do with any kind of cultural differences and more to do with the fact that some of those big titles were great disappoinments (FF) and that the japanese game market has been stagnating for some time. A few gems here and there but I don't think there's much innovation in their development teams, they all seem to be sticking to what they know and what they think will work.

      Yeah, i'd say this is pretty much bang on.

      100% agree, couldn't have said it better myself. It's interesting that no-one in the japanese games industry is willing to concede this point (publicly at least, i truly hope they can see the poor quality of their recent titles).

    The only cultural differences I see in things like FF games now is that they're pandering to the ultra hipsters in Japanese culture. I don't know if the hyper-metrosexual look is the current ideal for Japanese people, but don't blame advancements in graphics for that.

    Asian or European, if my protagonist looks more inclined to spend all day at the beauty salon rather than kick ass then you have no right expecting me to think they're badass.

    Perhaps the impact of this was lessened when the characters were pixelated and stylistic, but when graphics became more realistic the rest of the world responded by making their characters more realistic.

      I like the artwork and character/concept designs in many JRPG's and I'm less inclined to play western games when all the male characters looked like they had a steroid IV hooked up to their veins since birth and the female characters look like they're about to go for a shift at the nearest street corner.

      however the reason I havnt really liked any of the JRPG's coming from japan at the moment is because many of them are becoming more and more "moe" and I'm not a fan of that.

      The way I see it, "moe" sells in japan, and many studios are using it to drive sales. but the more "moe" they make their games the more niche their market becomes?

    As if the western developers are much better. It's just there are more people who blindly buy the next FPS (the western equivalent of JRPG). DS titles, dominated by the Japanese developers, feel fresh.

    When I was young, I loved jrpgs and Japanese games. But I think now they mostly appeal to the "weeaboo" type. Because most Japanese games suck, truthfully. I enjoyed Yakuza 1, then after that the rest of the series was basically the same generic gameplay and a new story line.

    Japanese games are declining because not only does the art style become less appealing, but they are being out-dated in the gameplay field.

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