Square Enix tech guru “encouraged”, says Japan “hasn’t lost”

By Brenna Hillier, Monday, 26 November 2012 23:20 GMT

Square Enix technical director Yoshihisa Hashimoto, the man behind the glorious Luminous engine, thinks Japanese development can climb back on top if developers put in the effort.

It’s become fashionable for both Japanese and western developers to decry Japan’s gaming output of the last decade, and while Hashimoto acknowledged this critique, he said local teams have the talent to get back on top.

“I believe Japan is capable of producing interesting games, but looking at the influence, we are being pushed around by western games without a doubt,” Hashimoto told Japanese site 4Gamer, as reported by EDGE.

But the developer isn’t all doom-and-gloom, seeing great hope for Japanese development in Konami’s Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes Fox Engine demonstration.

“Honestly, I thought it was amazing. I also thought, ‘We won’t lose to this though!’ It was quite motivational,” he said.

“Recently, it feels like the Japanese game industry hasn’t lost, and is gradually pushing back. For us not to lose, we really have to exert ourselves,” he added, echoing the message of regular Japanese industry doomsayer Keiji Inafune.

“But, I feel encouraged.”

That said, Hashimoto acknowledge the realities of an industry where Square Enix’s traditional triple-A business model – huge, high budget, technically advanced games built on traditional RPG lines – aren’t quite cutting it any more.

“Right now, triple-A development can feel like something of a fool’s errand. While low-budget titles seem to be making massive profits, big-budget, triple-A titles aren’t guaranteed to see a return in sales,” he said.

The technical director said that from a business perspective it would make sense to focus on low and middle end development, but that’s just not what the publisher does.

“From my perspective, I think Square Enix exists because of the high end. I would like for more lavishly made games to still be around,” he said.

“For example, I think 20 or so years from now, we’ll still have 2D card games, and casual puzzle games. The demand won’t go away, so neither will the games. In the same way, the demand for triple-A games won’t disappear either, though I feel we’ll have to work hard to ensure their survival.”

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