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Hideo Kojima asks if Japanese developers need International success

Thursday, 23rd 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

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