Japan’s Video Game Decline Is "Humiliating"

Japan’s Video Game Decline Is "Humiliating"
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At the 2009 Tokyo Game Show, game designer Keiji Inafune, then at Capcom, said the Japanese game industry was “finished”. At this year’s E3, one Square Enix exec seemed to realise just that.

On the way to an E3 dinner, Square Enix exec Kouji Taguchi tweeted that because Square Enix acquired Eidos, it was able to save face with titles like Tomb Raider, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, and Hitman: Absolution, adding that Japanese games have experienced a “humiliating decline”.

“Every day this week, I’ve been worried about how Japanese games will make a comeback.” He’s not alone.

Twitter / @tah3gucci3cozy3: E3最終日終了、最後のディナーに向かう。E3参加して … [Twitter]


    • So you don’t like Pac-man, space invaders, Mario, Street Fighter, etc?

      Do you think that Japanese games are isolated to JRPGs? If you knew what Taguchi was talking about, you’d reaslise he was talking about the time when Japan was leading the pack in terms of creative and memorable games.

      Unless you’re 12 years old, then you are too young to appreciate the games Japan gave us

      • all those games are decades old and are only still around cause people seem to think they are the pinnacle of gaming. I for one am dead tired of mario, and i could list 100 games id rather play, western ones too. Japan had a huge part in cementing gaming into the mainstream but i think people are too jaded now to give a shit about all the weird stuff that comes out of japan nowadays

  • This is not a surprise, there does seem to be a general shift in the last few years towards the FPS genre in the Asian block and lets face it, the genre itself is dominated by western developers.

    RPG games are on the decline (don’t mistake this as me ripping on the genre, I am still playing tactics ogre damn it!) and this mostly has to do with the genre not evolving in the slightest. Every RPG title seems to think you need a dark brooding protagonist who hides his feelings in order to have their audience relate or for an enemy that isn’t necessarily evil, but just misunderstood. Maybe if they actually got back to what the RPG genre is about deep down, the idea of choice and consequences for characters that actually develop over the course of the game, rather than having a single quest where in the character shows about 15 kinds of shades of grey.

  • Well, all they need to do is to start taking some chances with game design – Dragons Dogma and Asuras wrath are looking pretty smick though. Not this Final Fantasy 13/2 crap – why make a sequal to a game nobody really likes. I say Square should just move onto Final Fantasy 15 and if they fail dont make any more. Square really should only focus on Dragonquest and Final Fantasy for their RPG’s and start making some original IP’s. Or maybe they just dont cut it anymore like Sonic Team…

  • When Japanese Games stop considering themselves Japanese Game Developers and start considering themselves Game Developers from Japan.

    Or merge all the companies into maybe 2 conglomerates that make their little niche based games.

  • If Squeenix cares about the state of their games, maybe they should polish them up so they don’t wind up releasing buggy unplayable trash like FFIV which even THEY didn’t have the heart to start charging for.

    Lost Planet and Vanquished are great action games that prove shooters don’t have to be Western.

    People moved away from JRPGs because the genre stagnated. The same tired formulas with the same character tropes gets old fast, especially when Western ones are so much better-written, characters more fleshed-out and storylines more open-ended.

  • Should replace “Japan” with “Square Enix.”

    Nier was absolutely lovely, thank you very much Cavia. Just because people are finally realizing Square is a one-trick pony is no reason to lump everyone else with them. And don’t even bring up Inafune; DMC3 and 4 were both great games, even if 4 was a bit disappointing, but now thanks to it being TOO JAPANESE we have the upcoming DmC which is just about one of the biggest insults in gaming history. DMC2 was a better sequel by miles.

    In other words Japanese game developers need to throw away the cliches and archetypes, yes, but they do not need to take a wrecking ball to the entire building. J-RPGs with all their linearity are still far superior for delivering a single complex storyline than W-RPGs which have to sacrifice a lot to give you choices. Also I’m still yet to find a genuinely /difficult/ game from a Western developer, like DMC3, Monster Hunter or God Hand.

    Don’t let Square’s rubbish ruin what otherwise has lots of potential, Japan. :/

  • Japanese devs seem to be trying to ape western game design and visual design lately, or outright getting western studios to write their games.

    This is precisely the wrong approach imo. They need to keep their unique style of design.

    What they need to do, is get better at software engineering and computer science.

    When was the last time a japanese game had excellent:
    -3d animation systems
    -3D engine
    The last time I can recall being excited was for VF3’s cloth simulation… that was a long time ago.

    Japanese devs, being console-centric, are good at getting the most out of a limited system. This is why they are sticking to handhelds these days.

    Western devs, being PC-centric, have always been good at making scalable systems and engines. (think iD, Crytek, etc.)

    With modern consoles being more PC-like than ever, and games being larger in scope than ever, Japan needs to learn how to develop for PC-like systems, “large” software, engine creation etc. We see larger japanese companies like Capcom and Square starting to wise up. But they wont recover as an industry unless there is an entire ecosystem of talent with these skills.

    As for artistic and game design, they should stick to what makes them unique. The only advice is maybe start moving away from the relatively recent phenomenon of moe.

    If you think of the golden era of japanese gaming, its rare for titles to have many lolita catgirl robot maids, or whiny crossdressing tweenage boys. Japanese games were comparitively more mature than western (console) games, due to consoles being seen as kids toys in the west back then.

    Japan needs to go for more of a Persona or Silent Hill or Devil May Cry approach – still japanese, but avoiding the worst excesses of anime culture.

  • Remembering these key things are important for game development

    ART is not a game !!!!
    TECH is not a game !!!!
    DESIGNERS are not Gods !!!!

    They focused too much on tech and art for cinematics (FF13) and things ignoring the fun value which is why people buy games and keep it, gameplay is what make play from beginning to end that why people still play sprites and arcade games because its fun.

    They should always test every core mechanic with the audience and if its not fun then taking feedback find out what work and what doesnt then take it out, the Japanese Game industry is great and still can if they remember its the people wants over the artist, programers or designers ambitions of showcasing.

    Iam not saying that great art or tech shouldnt be
    ignored as you need it for marketing and visual feedback just to put first the important things is when the player pick up a controller and play they should be immersed in it.

    gamemakers from japan should work on prioritize on the flow and fun brought by the mechanics and player ability to interact with the world rather than art and tech.

    Iam a fan of japanese games because they have alot unique worlds and memorable characters in systems that allows me to feel at part of it.
    Keep up the good work

    • Sometimes people prefer to be swept along with a narrative. The interaction is done with personal imagination and empathizing with the persons/characters involved. It seems, to myself, that the “look at me! Look at what I can do! I want direct reward! Stimulate me! I don’t want to read something- let me kill something!” self centered approach to game interaction is a, dare I use the vague term, “Western” ideal.

      The difference between this apparent cultural dichotomy is that one group appreciates playing Go, for what it is, and the other group wants to set up a Chess board full of Queens and neon lights.

  • People love to exaggerate this “decline of Japanese games”. As far as I know, the majority of the biggest Japanese series still sell just as well or better then they did 5-10 years ago. Mario, Pokemon, Zelda, Smash Bros, Resident Evil, Kingdom Hearts, Metal Gear Solid, Tekken, Street Fighter and yes even Final Fantasy (except XIV of course).

    All of this talk of creative stagnation and changing trends… its not anywhere near as relevant as people make it out to be. The reason Japan no longer holds the entire console industry in their claws is because they have competition from the West now when 10 years ago, they didn’t(for the most part). You’re essentially talking Year 8 Economics here.

    As for JRPGs specifically, I have no doubt they could be just as popular today as they were a decade ago (look at Pokemon!). Its just that the major recent ones have been garbage. I promise you, FFXIII wasn’t bad because it was creatively stagnant, it was bad because its director is a moron.

  • Many critics of Japanese games, especially of the RPG’s from the Land of the Rising Sun, seem to base their criticisms on an argument that the genre has grown static. This is usually in comparison to the currently dominating rise of American First Person Shooters.

    Now, in what ways have FPS games given rise to something they have not already been and without any revolutionary change, for the past decade? Network gaming is at the very heart of the FPS community, whether it be the earlier “LAN parties” or massive online gaming. As far as I can observe, the only alterations contemporary FPS game(s) (apparently the genre has diversity beyond Modern Warfare- yet to be evident beyond outliers) have undergone is the additional “grinding” or “achievement” based around repeated usage of certain skills and experience from defeating foes, which have been integrated from both Japanese and “Western” RPGs.

    Ergo, the main argument here is based on the fact that the JRPG and RPG genre is “dying” because a few/one series of FPS game/s have adapted mechanics of JRPG and RPG games… hmmm… So one is superior because it is more like the other than?

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