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Hideo Kojima asks if Japanese developers need International success

Thursday, 23 June 2011 00:43 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Hideo Kojima seems to think Japanese developers should stop worrying about trying to make globally appealing games.

“Do we really need to succeed worldwide? That’s what I’m really wondering about,” the Metal Gear Solid creator asked, according to 1UP’s translation of an interview in this week’s Famitsu.

“Everyone talks about overseas, overseas, but nobody’s really thinking about what needs to be done if we want to succeed.”

Kojima seems to feel that if Japanese developers want to make Western blockbusters, they need to create entirely separate teams for the task.

“If you’re trying to break out overseas, then I think the only way is to divide your development teams between the Japanese and global markets,” he said.

“It’s impossible to encompass it in a single group – everything needs to be separate, down to the office and pay structure.”

Kojima seems to feel preference in games is the real dividing factor, having said that “it doesn’t matter what nationality the team is” so much as what types of games they enjoy.

“Americans like games where you have a gun and you’re shooting at space aliens. If you don’t understand why that’s fun, then you shouldn’t be making games for the world market; you don’t need to.

“I mean, Japanese people might say ‘Why space aliens?’, but Americans will counter with ‘What’s with these games featuring these feminine-looking boys fighting in Japan with these huge swords?’ It’s no wonder the target audience for a lot of games is getting so compartmentalized.”

Development in technology could change this, Kojima noted, commenting that Kojipro’s new Fox engine will allow for games to be built “more intuitively as well as far more efficiently”.

“That’s the way games are normally developed overseas, but we just didn’t have that,” he said.

It’s a revolution which he believes the West embraces in the last generation.

“In the 8-bit days, you had to symbolize a lot of things and make gamers follow certain rules. In the West, that did a complete 180 starting with the PS2.

“It’s no longer the game designer’s job to think up the rules; his job is to dissect gamers’ preferences and build a world they can get addicted to.”

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14 Comments

  1. Erthazus

    At last someone from Japanese developers said that.

    #1 4 years ago
  2. YoungZer0

    “I mean, Japanese people might say ‘Why space aliens?’, but Americans will counter with ‘What’s with these games featuring these feminine-looking boys fighting in Japan with these huge swords?’”

    I fucking lol’ed. QFT.

    However, i don’t think separate teams are the answer, i rather think that better research is the answer.

    #2 4 years ago
  3. Christopher Jack

    I do think that if these Japanese devs are searching international success, they need some Western influences in their studios to help them understand our culture.

    #3 4 years ago
  4. Hunam

    The problem with Japanese games at the moment isn’t that they are Japanese, it’s that they aren’t very good. MGS4 was a good game and did very well. Same for Demon Souls and Tales of Vesperia (if they’d have printed more than 4 copies).

    #4 4 years ago
  5. neon6

    Someone at Capcom’s going to read this and get angry.

    #5 4 years ago
  6. manamana

    ^ … while eating his hat, because Kojima is spot on.

    #6 4 years ago
  7. HighWindXIX

    The reason Japanese games are failing outside of Japan is that they’re trying to hard to be Western. Sure Persona might not sell tons in America next to Fallout, but its fan base is insanely more loyal. If they want success, they should stick to their guns and make the games they want, not what they think the West wants.

    #7 4 years ago
  8. Telepathic.Geometry

    I think he’s right about the pay. Japanese will work their balls off for an average wage. No matter what job you do in Japan, you have to work your nuts off. It’s standard. But in the west, I think we expect extra cash for working our balls off as opposed to working at a regular pace.

    #8 4 years ago
  9. Herlock

    @ 3

    I dont think so, really…, dont need ugly rip off for money, just do the same BUT release the games quikly in occident with marketing, that’s all.
    Waiting one year (sometimes never, Yakuza Kenza…) for a localisation is unsane!

    #9 4 years ago
  10. 2plus2equals5

    I don’t know if calling him genius or captain obvious.
    In every case europeans don’t share the same tastes with americans!
    I’m sick and tired of being considered(if considered) “western”(=americans), we europeans are more open, we enjoy american games and japanese games, so kojima don’t say to japanese developers to don’t make japanese games for us europeans!
    If Japan is considered east, if America is considered west, if arabian countries are considered middle east, someone can explain why in the hell is Europe considered west and not center/middle?

    #10 4 years ago
  11. Espers

    WHAT ABOUT AUDIENCES FROM THE REST OF THE WORLD WHO LIKE JAPANESE GAMES AND BIG SWORDS THAT ARE NOT SPACE ALIENS SHOOTING LOVERS ??!!

    TO TELL YOU THE TRUTH YESTERDAY I WAS PLAYING SOME 8-BIT GAMES & FOUND THEY WERE MORE FUN THAN TODAY’S GAMES!!

    DO U KNOW HOW MANY PPL WAIT EVERY 2 YEARS FOR FINAL FANTASY

    #11 4 years ago
  12. OlderGamer

    Sometimes it just happens. I say something, get pounced on by more then a handfull of the website. But in the end what I said gets resaid by someone in the industry.

    There was online. There was the Wii. There was Cloud gaming. Two other things coming to mind that will also play out – less performance out of MS/Sony next gen offering then people think, and the decending relevance of the JP development on the international stage.

    No, not trying to be an ass, but it makes me smile some.

    Kojima is so dead on correct I got tingles while reading it.

    First up Espers:

    “WHAT ABOUT AUDIENCES FROM THE REST OF THE WORLD WHO LIKE JAPANESE GAMES…”

    That market is no where as big as it once was. And it can not sustain the dev/pub cost of bringing JP games to the west on the whole. My advice is import, and buy handhelds.

    HighWindXIX:

    “The reason Japanese games are failing outside of Japan is that they’re trying to hard to be Western…”

    Fully disagree. They are trying hard to blend their games into western games because they can not sell on their own. And they know that.

    And the reason is simple:

    “Sure Persona might not sell tons in America next to Fallout,”

    Exactly. Its about competition. Years ago the JP dominated the market. Western game studios have little or no experience dev/pub games. There was Mario, and there nothing in the west. As things progressed western Devs went PC(I have a therory you won’t like – JP hardware owners didn’t want western devs making games for their systems. They snubbed em, so they embraced PC.)

    Enter Xbox. MS can’t round up JP support. Lack of JP support killed Atari Jaguager. So MS turns to the PC cummunity. their biggest seller to this date was a from PC dev(tuirned console dev) Bungie. Sure PS2 gets FF, but Xbox gets long time PC franchise Elder Scrolls(Morrowind, Oblvion, Skyrim). And so on. It takes time, but Xbox serves up a stable of games from western devs, and gets a foothold in western markets, esp NA.

    Fastfoward and we have a western market that no longer wants much of what JP has been cranking out.

    What about EU, right? Why do I think that only NA matters, must be the dumb American in me? Not really. NA is just the biggest share of the global games market. Its just a numbers game. If you take three companies, one dominating NA, one dominating JP, and one dominating EU, the one in EU will have trouble competing globaly.

    Thats what happening in JP. I feel the bulk of JP devs could easily focus on JP, and be fine. But in doing so, they will give up cempeting globaly.

    And Kojima is correct in his ascessment of why western gamers don’t embrace JP games. Mostly its the art work. In the 8/16bit days the art work was less in your face. You could play a FF2 and not know if Air Ship Cecil was wearing a man dress, had make up on, and talking with a lisp or not. All you saw was his blue armor. That didn’t put anyone off.

    Also if he thinks all western gamers want is a gun and space marine, he is off. EA Sports says hi.

    And look at Nintendo. They make games the sameway today they did when they started, and there western sales are steller.

    JP, NA, and even EU cultures are all a bit different. EU and NA are much closer together then they are with JP. To ignore that would be foolish. I give drediance to the idea that they could use two teams one to make international games and one to make eastern/JP games. I also think they should sit Sony/Nintendo/ even MS and get them to knock down any notion of region locked games. I know PSV is not region locked, and it isn’t because of what I just said – a much bigger JP market, means devs can focus on making one game, the audiance can import and play. I would put in subtitles in several languanges built into almost every JP game I made.

    But in the end if I was JP and I couldn’t sell my games in NA, I would stop trying. I would make the games I wanted, aim at the markets that will suport them, and make my game as import friendly as I could.

    And if you think I am somehow being closed minded, go to JP and tell me how much shelf space is allowed for Xb360. Tell me how well Halo/CoD/Fallout/ME/Gears of War/EA Sports sell? People like what they like, you can’t hold it against em either way. If JP doesn’t want our western games, or if the west doesn’t want their games. It is what it is, you can’t force it to change. Its it the way it is because its an open international market. People vote for what they want with each purchase.

    #12 4 years ago
  13. IL DUCE

    @12 Wow dude, spot on, pretty much makes my comment useless but ill post it anyway…good post

    Anyway, the US is the largest gamings market in the world, and when you include Europe in that the Western market it dwarfs the Eastern/Japanese market so yes, you do need to sell in the West to be globally successful…just make a good game

    Second of all, can someone answer that question, “What’s with these games featuring these feminine-looking boys fighting in Japan with these huge swords?”

    #13 4 years ago
  14. sb319

    Well, the Japanese games market is shrinking, and terribly regressive. Fine if you want to knock out low-budget RPGs for DS, but if you’ve aspirations to make big-budget titles, thinking globally is a must. Evolve or die.

    Japan can still compete, can still bring something unique to the table… but it’ll take a real change of mentality among their next generation of young developers, bred on a diet of repetitive Japan-only games that appear increasingly juvenile, niche and out of sync with modern tastes and global game culture.

    #14 4 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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    We have 400 Lann Revamp codes worth €25 to giveaway for free to VG247 readers. All you need to do is enter your details in the box below and you’ll be given a code to redeem in game. The codes are for warrior character Lann and offer a 7 day unlimited Inner Armour pass, battle […]

  • US eShop update: Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars, OlliOlli, more

    Nintendo has updated the North American end of the eShop with Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars, OlliOlli and a demo version of Azure Striker GUNVOL. Your full update is below. eShop Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars – Wii U, 3DS – Cross Buy OlliOlli – Wii U, 3DS – Cross-Buy Proun+ – Proun+ […]

  • Rock Band 4 confirmed for Xbox One and PS4: supports old instruments and 2,168 songs

    Harmonix has lifted the lid on the long-rumoured Rock Band 4, stating it will support 2,168 previously released tracks and last-gen instruments on PS4 and Xbox One. The game will be out this year. Harmonix has yet to reveal specific features for the game, but it has been built with a completely new engine. As […]

  • First run of Rodea the Sky Soldier copies on Wii U come with Wii version

    The first print run of Rodea the Sky Soldier on Wii U will come with the Wii version packed in, NIS America has confirmed. The publisher confirmed today in a press release that anyone who buys the first run of the retail version of Rodea the Sky Soldier on Wii U will find the Wii […]

  • Unreal Tournament 4 lets modders sell cosmetic items to players

    Unreal Tournament 4 is a game built with the help of the modding community. So it’s only natural that it will feature a marketplace where all cosmetic items can be sold. Epic Games has confirmed that it will allow modders from the community to sell the cosmetics items they’ve created on the game’s marketplace. The […]

  • D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die is coming to PC – rumour

    SWERY 65 has shown off D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die running on PC at GDC this week, teasing that a possible port may be on the way. D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die is SWERY 65′s latest project. An episodic detective affair, D4 came out on Xbox One last September and utilised Kinect as its main […]

  • Valve’s Lighthouse, VR controllers and more explained

    Valve’s less-talked about prototype VR controllers and its Lighthouse technology have been shown in more detail. When HTC announced Vive, the VR headset it’s working on with Valve, it mentioned “base stations” and ergonomic controllers. Now we know what they meant by that. The controllers are still in prototype phase, and will look better when […]

  • Listen to two professional Counter-Strike players explain why Dust2 is so popular

    Hear what makes iconic Counter-Strike map Dust2 one of the most popular maps in shooter history from two former eSports players. Sal “Volcano” Garozzo and Shawn “FMPONE” Snelling are both retired professional Counter-Strike players who are currently working as designers. At GDC this year, the pair hosted a panel titled “Community Level Design for Competitive […]

  • Core Morpheus hardware locked in, no plans for wireless version

    Sony has finalised the core hardware for its VR headset Project Morpheus, and does not currently plan on releasing a wireless version. SCE Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida spoke to Gamespot at GDC and confirmed that the core hardware of Morpheus is “pretty much done” but that “lots of tweaks and improvements” are still being […]

  • Watch the full Phil Spencer keynote from GDC 2015

    The full GDC 2015 keynote of Xbox boss Phil Spencer is now available to watch. In case you missed last nights’s Phil Spencer keynote at GDC 2015, the whole thing has been made available to watch on YouTube. The address is titled “The Future of Gaming Across the Microsoft Ecosytem,” and it’s where Spencer announced […]

  • Elite: Dangerous won’t be “dumbed down” for Xbox One

    The Xbox One version of Elite: Dangerous will in fact be the same as the PC one. Elite: Dangerous developer Frontier came out on stage last night at GDC to announce the game making its console debut on Xbox One. Some have feared that the port would not provide the same experience as the PC […]

  • Virtual reality: by gum, it’s really happening

    Virtual reality has exited the realm of peripheral gimmick and turned into something that just might go mainstream. VR has an uphill battle ahead of it. The tech is going to be expensive, and there are a number of problems that need to be solved before it could be considered an inclusive technology (motion sickness, […]

  • Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor takes Game of the Year at GDC Awards 2015

    And the winner is: Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor beat out Alien: Isolation, Bayonetta 2, Destiny, and Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft to win Game of the Year at the Game Developer’s Choice Awards 2015. Elsewhere in the awards, Ustwo’s mobile hit Monument Valley was a stand-out favourite, with wins in the Innovation, […]

  • Alien: Isolation was prototyped in third-person – video

    Alien: Isolation is one of the most effectively scary triple-A games in years, but it didn’t start off a perfect creation of pure terror. Creative Assembly prototyped Alien: Isolation in third-person perspective before they nailed down the final approach. The developer revealed this during a GDC 2015 presentation, and it’s a good reminder that games […]

  • Madden 15 added to EA Vault

    Madden 15 is now included in EA’s all-you-can-eat subscriber service. Madden 15 is the ninth game to be added to the EA Vault, a stash of games available on demand for EA Access subscribers. It's still Madden Season for EA Access members – Madden NFL 15 is now in The Vault for all members. Go […]

  • Source Engine 2 doesn’t have hidden costs or royalties – but is Steam exclusive

    Three major engines went free at GDC 2015, and each of them is monetising in a different way. There’s been a heck of a lot of discussion about development tools and the costs associated with them during GDC 2015. First Epic announced that Unreal Engine 4 would be free, bar royalities on successful releases. Then […]

  • Final Fantasy creator hates sequels

    Final Fantasy, a byword in prolific franchises, was created by a man who hates sequel. Final Fantasy games are famous for being reinvented with each core release, and it was not until series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi began to withdraw from the franchise after Final Fantasy 9 that we started seeing regular sequels and spin-offs. Speaking […]

  • Guardian complaints led to the closure of Destiny’s Loot Cave

    Destiny players are to blame for the shuttering of the much loved Loot Cave. Early in Destiny‘s history, many players got hugely excited about the “Loot Cave”. Accessible shortly after starting the game for the first time, this high-volume spawn point allowed players to stand in one place, taking out waves and waves of low-level […]

  • Xbox and PC games boss Phil Harrison to leave Microsoft – rumour

    Microsoft Interactive Entertainment Business VP and EMEA head of games Phil Harrison is rumoured to have thrown in the towel. Microsoft has not issued a statement on Harrison’s alleged departure, despite repeated questioning by press at GDC 2015. Instead, word comes via multiple sources speaking to GamesIndustry at the show. According to the rumours, Harrison […]

  • Metal Gear Online commentated trailer explains stuffed dog – but not invisibility

    Metal Gear Online developer Kojima Productions has provided significantly more insight into how the multiplayer side of The Phantom Pain works. Metal Gear Online is the online multiplayer component of Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain. Konami hasn’t shared a great deal about it yet, but we did see a very cool Metal Gear […]

  • Elite: Dangerous Xbox One trailer shows off space MMO

    If Elite: Dangerous looks this good on Xbox One we have nothing to complain about. Microsoft revealed Elite: Dangerous is coming to Xbox One this year during its GDC presentations today. We don’t know very much about the port, but I suppose we ought to have expected it; Frontier Developments has a very close relationship […]

  • Battletoads to appear in Shovel Knight Xbox One

    A Battletoads remake must be on the horizon. Right? Right?? The Battletoads will appear in the upcoming Xbox One version of Shovel Knight, Yacht Club Games revealed today. The Battletoads drop in for a fight! Shovel Knight is headed to Xbox One and meets up with @RareLtd brawling trio! pic.twitter.com/OCQIuWbH3W — Yacht Club Games (@YachtClubGames) […]

  • The Division pre-alpha footage leaks, Ubisoft says it’s well out of date

    The Division fans finally got a look at Ubisoft’s MMO this week, but the publisher has said the footage is not in any way representative. Pre-alpha footage of the The Division was leaked this week, but has since been thoroughly smacked down by takedown notices. All that remains are a few screenshots and a GIF: […]

  • Microsoft HoloLens designer killed in hit and run accident

    Very sad news out of Redmond this week, as Mike Ey was killed in a tragic accident. Ey, 30, was one of the key project designers on Microsoft’s HoloLens AR headset. He was killed on Saturday morning in a rear-end collision. The driver of the second vehicle fled the scene but was tracked down by […]

  • AMD throws support behind VR with new low-latency anti-nausea tech

    GPU manufacturer AMD has released a new SDK compatible with “a broad set of VR devices”. Called LiquidVR, the tech is designed to “bring better content, comfort, and compatibility to VR applications” including games, simulation, entertainment, education, social media, travel, medicine, real estate and ecommerce, apparently. AMD said maintaining comfort and realism in VR environments […]

  • Danganronpa 3 in the works, but a long way off yet

    A new Danganronpa is happening. Danganronpa 3 is in the very, very early production stages, writer Kodaka Kazutaka has confirmed. Nothing about the project is “set in stone”, Kazutaka told Polygon, so there are no details to share yet; the characters and story may change several times before being finalised. The writer said he’s weighing […]

  • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare MLG Pro League 2015 schedule announced

    Major League Gaming has announced the full schedule for the 2015 Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare MLG Pro League. The eSpots firm revealed two more seasons of Pro League, a live Relegation tournament for Season Three, and a season ending World Championship with $250,000 up for grabs You can watch all the action on MLG.tv […]

  • Happy Birthday PlayStation 2, you are almost old enough to drive

    Amidst all the GDC 2015 hoopla today, we forgot to wish PlayStation 2 a Happy Birthday. The system turned 15 years old today, going by its March 4, 2000 launch date in Japan. It was released in the west that autumn, and had shipped 100 million units in less than six years post launch. PS2 […]

  • Here’s what the final version of Valve’s Steam Controller looks like

    A look at the updated Steam Controller has surfaced via a hands-on post from Polygon. Valve said what you see in the images below is the final version of the controller. The controller has gone through numerous revisions since it was first revealed, but it seems Valve has decided on two touch pads which work […]

  • The Sims, SimCity developer closed down

    The Sims 4 developer Maxis has been shuttered, EA has confirmed. The Sims, SimCity and the rest of the Sim franchise has traditionally been helmed by Maxis, which had its flagship studio in Emeryville, California. Now EA has confirmed with Kotaku that this studio is being closed. “Today we are consolidating Maxis IP development to […]

  • Gigantic MOBA coming to Windows 10 and Xbox One with cross-play

    Today during GDC 2015, Microsoft announced that the new IP from Motiga called Gigantic will be cross-play enabled. Slated for Windows 10 and Xbox One, the five-on-five third-person battle arena game allows the player to select from an array of heroes with distinctive powers and play styles. Players will then make their way through areas […]

  • Here’s a look at Unreal Tournament DirectX 12 gameplay

    Epic Games is creating Unreal Tournament using Unreal Engine 4 running on DirectX 12, which Microsoft says “sets a new bar for visual fidelity.” DirectX 12 is a single API developers can access across Windows devices, which can result in a 20% improvement in performance over DX11 running on the same machine. The Unreal Tournament […]

  • Wireless adapter for Xbox One controllers out later this year

    Microsoft announced at GDC 2015 today it will that all wireless Xbox gaming accessories will be designed for and supported on both Xbox One consoles and Windows 10 PCs moving forward. Later this year, a wireless adapter will be released, allowing current Xbox controllers and future devices to be used wirelessly on PCs. This will […]

  • Microsoft offers up more details on Spencer’s GDC 2015 talk

    Microsoft has provided more details on Cross-Buy functionality between Windows 10 and Xbox One as well as the Xbox Live SKU and other announcements made during Phil Spencer’s talk today. During the session, the head of Xbox shared “the next step” in the company’s plans for a unified platform across all Windows 10 devices which […]

  • Wasteland 2 is coming to PlayStation 4 this summer

    Wasteland 2 is coming to PlayStation 4 as a Game of the Year Edition. inXile Entertainment announced the news on the PS Blog, noting the edition contains enhancements and improvements. The game has been ported to Unity 5, which was announced over the weekend, providing upgraded visual effects, “improved character models, upgraded environments, and Unity […]

  • Cross-Buy detailed for Windows 10 and Xbox One; Elite: Dangerous coming to Xbox One

    During Xbox boss Phil Spencer’s session at GDC 2015 today, it was announced Elite: Dangerous would release on Xbox One. Spencer also outlined cross-buy functionality across Windows 10 and Xbox One. Spencer’s talk started off with Frontier Developments announcing Elite: Dangerous for release this summer as a console debut on Xbox One, suggesting the Elite: […]