American opinions on just why it is Japanese games are so inferior to the fruits of American ingenuity – ranging from a lack of muscle and creepy anime eyes to insufficiently casual-friendly design and stories too long for their limited attention spans – and presented as the way forward for the Japanese industry, have been proving unsurprisingly incendiary amongst Japanese and others…
The reasons, based on a Japanese developer’s quizzing of “100” American developers at CEDEC 2013:
1. Market shift
The western markets have grown and so the focus has shifted onto them, particularly with the Xbox’s provision of games catering to American tastes, whereas previously there were only Japanese games around.
Japanese games also try too hard to appeal to western consumers and are losing their identity.
2. The cultural gap
Fantasy is perceived differently.
Stories are long: Americans typically finish their lunch in 12 minutes. They want quick gratification.
Nobody can get into the stories – they are too random, superficial and take too long to get into before you can play.
3. They have no good anime eyes
4. Westerners want “Roman proportion” beefcakes rather than effete Asian weaklings
5. The acting tends to be more “theatric” than “cinematic”
6. They have inferior “usability”
Poor pacing, no focus testing, packages which can’t be read from 7m away like American games
7. Japanese games (and anime) are too hardcore
Casuals can’t take them, hardcore gamers are declining
CoD is for casuals
It makes lots of money so it can keep up its “progress”
Japanese games don’t target casuals enough
8. They aren’t making the genres which sell well in North America
Not all genres sell well in the west, although console game sales have been decreasing even outside Japan
9. Japanese games are too old-fashioned
Did they completely stop progressing?
The end result is everyone got bored of them
Their smaller budgets also contributed to technological decline
10. Differences in their racial roots
Americans love guns and blood
Americans hate sex
Whether such helpful American admonitions to emulate the world-renowned greatness of EA are actually intended to help the Japanese gaming industry or instead finish them off for good have been the subject of no small debate amongst Japanese gamers themselves:
“Just which developers did they ask…”
“What do you expect from a society obsessed with murder games.”
“The west just treats any 2D game as retro though.”
“They basically seem to be talking about Final Fantasy, don’t they?”
“They say this stuff like western games are actually any good.”
“I hear FF14 surpassed Skyrim!”
“No western game has surpassed Puzzle Dragon.”
“But gaijin love Final Fantasy! 13 got totally panned in Japan but they lapped it up and Square Enix made a fortune off it. Even an interactive movie like MGS4 did fantastically overseas.”
“And don’t forget FF7…”
“We need an open world samurai game!”
“Japanese games used to have the upper hand when it was package based, US games have it when they can be updated. I guess in a market which rewards developers who shipp half-finished games and patch them up this is the result…”
“Japanese developers really need to stop trying to knock off western hits…”
“The Japanese market is totally centred on producing games for kids. I suspect that explains most of this.”
“The adult market is smaller because Japanese adults just don’t game as much.”
“The story in some games is just so bad you have to stop playing – Dead Space 3 and Yakuza 5 being cases in point.”
“Saying that Japanese games target hardcore gamers – what? Isn’t it the other way around?”
“I think the real difference is that Japanese games are a direct extension of anime and manga whilst those of America are an extension of movies and drama. As such they are less dependent on 3D graphics, whereas these are essential for the realism of film-based games.”
“That seems to be exactly it…”
“What exactly is so advanced about western games? They just churn out endless sequels for the same big franchises. And somehow total linearity is OK if it is western, but if it is Japanese it is a problem. I think it is just simple racism at play.”