Square Enix has once again been heard to explain why it is it thinks Americans will only accept muscle-bound old men as heroes.
The speech given by Square Enix developers with US-Japan joint development experience at CEDEC 2010 is summarised by an attendee as follows:
The importance of “believability” is strongly emphasised in the North American market.
Why are American characters always older guys? This can be explained with reference to “believability.”
For a protagonist who triumphs against adversity to be believable in the eyes of players, they want him to be tough and highly experienced.
This isn’t limited to characters – in “Fallout 3” you see the example of Nuka Cola, which gives health when drunk but also poisons the body with radiation. At first this doesn’t seem realistic at all, but when you consider the setting is post-apocalyptic it becomes “believable.”
This was one of the major points they were keen to emphasise – in fact they reiterated it repeatedly throughout the presentation.
In other remarks, they were heard to tell the audience that any joint development with foreign developers “is best avoided” because of the potential for communication problems – it appears Square Enix did not have a happy time attempting to work with non-Japanese developers.
RPG fans hoping for a letup in the comically clichéd efforts of Japanese developers to succeed in the west, almost invariably by providing muscle-bound old men as heroes, seem set to be disappointed – Square Enix and company already have their minds made up as to what a title needs to be a success in the west, in spite of their repeated failures to actually deliver any successful titles based on these perceptions.