'Japan Needs To Make Games Like Hollywood Makes Movies' Says Mikami

When you think about Capcom alumni and rants about the state of the Japanese Games Industry, it's usually Keiji Inafune doing the ranting. This time, however, it's Shinji Mikami. He believes that Japanese developers aren't going big enough — they should be making video games like Hollywood makes movies.

According to Mikami, the budgets are simply too small to compete with blockbuster AAA titles being released in the west, but singled out Hideo Kojima as someone heading in the right direction.

"Hollywood spends like 200 million dollars producing a movie, and you can make an incredible movie with that sort of money," said Mikami, talking to CVG. "But Japanese movie studios don't spend anything like that. The difference in [the] scale of the budgets [is] the same in games. Japan needs to make games like Hollywood makes movies. I think Capcom and Hideo Kojima's team are trying hard on that front."

Mikami took issue with the kind of games being made, claiming Japan is too inward looking in terms of the games it produces.

"Yes, there are amazing games, just not enough of them... So many are based on anime or fantasy - games that only appeal to Japanese people. Most gamers overseas aren't interested in anime.

"We made Okami at Clover. It was such a breathtaking game, yet it didn't sell. If that's the case, westerners obviously don't like that sort of game. Maybe they prefer something a little more straightforward."

Personally, I think Okami is a bad example. For the life of me I don't understand why that game didn't sell — I certainly don't think it was because it was 'too Japanese'. It's interesting that Mikami thinks that Japanese developers aren't going big enough, whilst Western developers appear to be struggling to find financial success in the 'AAA' area.

Perhaps spending more money on production isn't necessarily the answer to Japan's problems, if you think they have a problem to begin with.

Mikami: 'Japan needs to make games like Hollywood makes movies' [CVG]


Comments

    I was kinda with him until he mentioned Kojima. That says to me he's kind of misjudging what gamers in the West like about AAA games and overestimates the popularity of the games on Kojima's resume, like Metal Gear Solid 4. I'm not saying those games aren't popular, but they're not exactly blockbusters, either.

    Okami was, by all accounts, a great game. I am one of the many who never played it. It seems that people like Japanese games, but for some reason we're not buying Japanese games. It's probably more of a marketing and branding issue than a design one.

      MGS4 not a blockbuster? Are you for real? the ads and hype for that game was huge.

        Which is why it sold well generally, moving just under 6 million units worldwide. But a "blockbuster"? No.

        How well does it stand up to typical US-made "AAA" titles? (whatever "AAA" really means). Say what you will about the quality of games like Call of Duty and Halo (actually don't, because I don't feel like debating that right now), those games sell. Even Halo 3: ODST beat MGS4, and it's generally considered to be the weakest of the Halo games and sold poorly accordingly.

        It's a marketing and branding issue. Nothing more. There'd be a lot of devastated gamers if Japanese games lost their Japanese-ness. Some of the best games I've played this gen barely scraped a million sales. Some other games sold considerably less.

        Now we live in an age where a million isn't good enough. the studio that made Kingdoms of Amalur folded because they needed to sell 3 million units to break even, and didn't, probably because most people hadn't heard of the game until in-game bonuses were appended to completing the Mass Effect 3 demo, and vice versa. Too little, too late.

        Throwing more money into game development is one way to make a hit, but not the only way. And it's not the most sustainable way.

          I can see your point but no doubt mgs is blockbuster of its own genre. We all know there are more Xbox than ps3 on the street and how fps dominates the market. How about try comparing mgs sales to other same genre games like say splinter cell. Is it blockbuster enough for you? Unless you go big figures such as CoD which is such a horrible game yet a blockbuster thanks to puberty kids.

            I think Matthew K is right.

            In this case, MGS4 is the 'PROMETHEUS' of its own genre. Maybe that's a little harsh, but please let me explain. There was ego behind it. A LOT of ego. MGS4 was a wonderful game, when it actually LET you play. Try playing it something skipping the cutscenes, within 3 hours you're literally half way through the game, that's not good. The gameplay itself also feels watered down from MGS3 for some reason, I'm not sure why but it doesn't feel as raw and visceral. MGS3 was definitely the highlight, the 'Aliens' of the series. MGS4 is by no means a piece of crap. It's fun, it's good, it's definitely a good game and better than most stealth games. However as a MGS game, it suffered, again, from massive amounts of ego. For gods sake, theres a three to four minute segment where you watch a kid cook cgi EGGS. Literally half the cutscenes in the game can be cut out without actually impacting on plot or character development in any way, shape or form. Hideo Kojima is one of the best in the industry, but the man has a gigantic ego out of control in terms of cinematics and is in drastic need of an editor. Just like a lot of Hollwood directors out there.... Michael Bay (NOT a good director, but badly needs a good editor), Ridley Scott (Early works awesome, later....notsomuch).

            So to conclude, or tldr?

            Yeah its a damn good game, to some degree, but with egos running rampant and cinematics that just ran way too long (and an ending that had a save point ffs), MGS4 was more a creature of 'BELIEVE MY HYPE! YOU MUST!' than an actual creature of substance.

          I'm not sure on what basis you consider a game a blockbuster.

          If you're talking units sold globally then MGS4 sold as much or more than Uncharted 2, Assasins Creed 2, or God of War, etc...

          I don't see how its not a blockbuster.

    I'm western and I loved Okami. But yeah, the sales figures would probably suggest I'm in the minority and it's hard to argue with numbers. Although whether the low numbers is due to people not liking the game or to do with insufficient marketing and advertising etc is up for debate.

    Maybe it's when they sell the game. They're usually sold along with an obviously popular game and some people can't buy both.

    Japan needs to stop making games for the Western Market. Western gamers will buy Japanese games if they are interesting, not because they are similar to what we already have.

    Okami arrived too late in the PS2 lifecycle. That was the issue with it I think.
    On the Kojima front that guy couldn't be more hit and miss with me if he tried. I loved all his 2d era work, ZoE series and Metal Gear Solid 1 and 3. 2 and 4 are totally unenjoyable for me though, the shitty writing and a couple aspects of the gameplay get in the way of what should be an enjoyable experience for me.

    although I havnt playes many japanease games my problem is they have gameplay and stroy but dont seem to mesh them together enough

    You mean they want to do nothing original and just copy comic books?

    I think the big problem with a lot of Japanese games (Western too, but probably not as often) is that it feels like the damned things aren't actually playtested for enjoyment during development. So you always end up with these really annoying quirks that shouldn't be in the game that rub you the wrong way. It's like how in Dragon's Dogma the pawns ALWAYS TALK ALL THE TIME AND SAY THE SAME THING OVER AND OVER, any sane developer would've realised that's bloody annoying after 100 hours and set it so they don't do it as much. So many Japanese games have this sort of thing, things that surely someone along the way said "this is a bit irritating...".

    I'm always reminded of listening to the Half Life 2 Episode 2 commentaries about how they playtest the crap out of their games and constantly tweak things to make it more enjoyable, I wish more developers would put more thought into little annoyances rather than just make you suffer through it.

      You obviously haven't introduced to ultra-streamlined and bug free world of Skyrim. Where NPC lines are plentiful except for when they are involved in 'life changing accidents to the lower limbs rendering them bond to the mundane jobs'.

        I think the key difference there is you hear snatches of dialogue from NPCs scattered around Skyrim, but those NPCs aren't with you for the entire duration of the game like the pawns in Dogma are.

          What's more irritating is skyrim's bland combat and shallow npc interaction. Dragon's dogma's combat, more than makes up for any annoying quirks, that are inconsequential to gameplay.

          I hope japanese developers make more games to appeal to us, the East West mix seems to produce better results.
          Dragon's Dogma's emphasis on action rpg is what games do best. Kingdoms of Amalur had the right idea but poorer execution and style.
          If i want better story telling or dialog, I'll watch a movie or tv series.

    Honestly I would more inclined to play Japanese games if they weren't so insistent on making everything look and play like a game from the 90's. I can not for the life of me understand why every animated game developed in Japanese looks like anime, they simply do not make things different. And that applies to gameplay too, I don't play JRPGs anymore because they play exactly the same as they did 15 years ago. I just very rarely see anything that intrigues, although I never played Okami but it did look exactly like the kind of game I would like to play from a Japanese developer (sided with Xbox so I never got a chance to give it a go).

    Rather, I think Hollywood needs to make movies like Japan makes games.

    I really miss viewtiful joe. Can he come back one day? Please?

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AoBw96IWO08

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