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Japanese developers take less risks than western studios, says Mikami

Monday, 1 July 2013 15:59 GMT By Dave Cook

The Evil Within creator Shinji Mikami has suggesting that Japanese studios take less risks than those in the West, and that you won’t find many publishers in Japan investing over $30 million into one title.

Speaking with GI.biz about the different strategies employees in the East and Western markets, Mikami said, “Games have become big projects, requiring a lot of resources both to create and market. Games have become more risky.

“Japanese companies don’t take those kinds of risks like Western developers do. In the past, what the Capcom president [Kenzo Tsuijimoto] told me was that game development is becoming more and more expensive and many Japanese publishers won’t be investing $30 million or more in a game.”

He believes that Western studios are, “working harder,” and added that “if we can invest $30 million into a game, we can win,” suggesting that the Japanese market could overtake the West if it too pumped more money into projects.

Part of the problem, he added, is that Japanese studios seem reluctant to employ Western tech into their projects. “As for the organizational structure of companies,” he continued. “I think it would be good if companies would be more flexible about incorporating foreign technologies.”

What do you make of the differences between development in the East and West? Is the divide purely about money and tech, or are there bigger issues at play? Let us know below.

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54 Comments

  1. manamana

    But is it really the goal to invest $30mio plus?

    #1 2 years ago
  2. Francis O

    Western Studios take “more risks”? I didn’t know making shooters over and over and over was taking a “risk”

    Western Studios also close down more than Japanese studios as well.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. DreamCleaver

    Probably meant that the western publishers take more financial risks.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. Lengendaryboss

    @Francis
    It must be generalization day oh wait no its hate shooter day: Not every western studio makes shooters so your point is moot, what you mean to say is the majority. You wouldn’t know what a risk is. Western Studios shut down because more money is invested than japanese studios, amongst other factors.

    #4 2 years ago
  5. Blue Oni

    He probably hasn’t played Demon’s Souls.Or Dark Souls.Or Valkyria Chronicles.Or Dragon’s Dogma.Or…well you get the idea.

    Western devs may be investing in bigger budget games but they play it as safe as possible in order to get their money back.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. Francis O

    @4 Legendarychump

    I never said every Western studio only makes shooters.

    #6 2 years ago
  7. Clupula

    Nintendo certainly aren’t taking any risks, I’ll tell you that. Their games are very comfort food.

    I can say that continuing work on the Last Guardian, over at Sony, certainly is a risk. If that were Microsoft, they would have abandoned the game long ago, simply because it’s not exactly going to be doing Halo numbers and you can’t sum it up in a Mountain Dew commercial.

    Besides that, though, Sony of America take way more risks than Sony of Japan. Stuff like Beyond: Two Souls and Heavy Rain were certainly risks, as is their constant stream of new first party ips.

    Capcom…probably the safest company ever when it comes to what games to make. Ono has said for a while that he would like to do Darkstalkers, but how long have they held him back on that? Not to mention, making, GASP, a new fighting game ip.

    Konami…Kojima is allowed to take risks with what he does WITHIN Metal Gear, but it appears to only be him, and he’s still allowed to leave that particular box.

    Sega of Japan, though, definitely seem to be unafraid of risks. Sega of America, though…total opposite.

    #7 2 years ago
  8. Lengendaryboss

    @Francis
    And neither did this article or person mention shooters, you just thought of shooters out of thin air. In addition you said “Western Studios” theres was no “all” “every” “some” attached anywhere.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. Dark

    Well said mikami.

    Capcom , From Software , PG , atlus , Level5 , Kojipro and maybe SE
    the rest are mediacore developers at best.

    #9 2 years ago
  10. Lengendaryboss

    @Clupula
    Don’t bring Ninty into this, you will start a full scale argument :)

    #10 2 years ago
  11. Clupula

    Oh dear, that would be off-putting.

    #11 2 years ago
  12. Gnosis

    SE pumps tons of money in their games and then declares them a failure, because they sell “only” 3,5 mil. More money =/= automatic success AND first and foremost =/= good game. I’d rather prefer a creative, small budget indie game over a mediocre million dollar project.

    #12 2 years ago
  13. manamana

    #5 +1

    @7 you forgot Grasshopper Manufacture and Rain or Soul Sacrifice from SCE Japan …
    #9 you can hardly be serious, are you?

    #13 2 years ago
  14. Ireland Michael

    @2 No more of a risk than creating yet *another* anime styled RPG for the Japanese market, full of every tired cliched in the genre, run into the ground… again, and again, and again.

    @5 Those are the exceptions, not the rules. There is a craptonne of stuff that never even reaches these shores, mainly because there’s not much market here for creepy, oversexualised high school magic girl drama.

    #14 2 years ago
  15. Clupula

    @13 – I did forget Grasshopper. As for the Sony of Japan stuff, though, I’m not really sure a PSN title and a Vita-exclusive “darker” version of Monster Hunter are really that much of a bunch of risks, though.

    #15 2 years ago
  16. Clupula

    @12 – Ah, but those games you are talking about are from their Western division.

    #16 2 years ago
  17. Clupula

    @14 – Okay, we get that you don’t like Japanese games. Move on. Jesus, you’re as bad as Francis is when it comes to first person shooters.

    I hate the Halo games, but can you show me the last Halo article I posted in? I’ve made no secret on E3 threads that I found Titanfall boring as all hell, but do you see me going on Titanfall articles to shit on people’s enthusiasm about it?

    #17 2 years ago
  18. Gnosis

    @16: Their loss started with the FF series. They put an insane amount of money in Fabula Nova Crystallis and XIV, which was a complete failure.

    #18 2 years ago
  19. Francis O

    @Legendarychump

    A lot of western companies make boring bland shooters…they take no risks. Sorry, that’s just my opinion.

    @Clupula, you should spend more time getting subs on your YouTube, instead of making yourself sound stupid on VG247 message boards.

    #19 2 years ago
  20. Lengendaryboss

    @Francis
    Again no-one but yourself brought shooters into the equation, but thank you for stating its your opinion rather than continually (and annoyingly) asserting as if it were fact.

    Oh and change “chump” if your going to make personal digs, at least keep it fresh.

    #20 2 years ago
  21. Francis O

    I’ll stick with Lengendarychump.

    Western studios make shooters…..they take no “risks” nor do they “work harder” than Japanese studios.

    When you think of Western games, what genre does everybody think of? Shooters, so that’s why I brought it up.

    Now stop comment stocking me chump.

    #21 2 years ago
  22. YoungZer0

    @14: To be fair Valkyria Chronicles and Persona 4 also falls under the anime style RPG’s.

    Both great games, but it’s telling; even though they stand out they are still the same.

    With the exception of Persona, I avoid all other Anime inspired RPG’s. This leaves only a handful of JRPG’s and right now I do not care about Final Fantasy.

    The truth is: Japanese developers simply aren’t that good anymore. They have their niche genres but they still don’t manage to break out of their monotony. It’s mostly the art-direction, other times the gameplay. It just doesn’t feel as redefined and fluid as their western counterparts.

    Remember when we thought that MGS1 and Tenchu were actually good STEALTH games?

    Here are a few links with pictures of upcoming Japanese games:

    http://www.allgamesbeta.com/2013/06/chronos-materia-for-ps-vita-first-images.html
    http://www.allgamesbeta.com/2013/06/the-legend-of-heroes-sen-no-kiseki_29.html
    http://www.allgamesbeta.com/2013/06/shin-koihime-musou-listed-for-ps3.html
    http://www.allgamesbeta.com/2013/06/xblaze-code-embryo-second-trailer.html
    http://www.allgamesbeta.com/2013/06/conception-ii-opening-movie.html
    http://www.allgamesbeta.com/2013/06/exstetra-character-trailer-shiho.html
    http://www.allgamesbeta.com/2013/06/hyperdimension-neptunia-rebirth-1-first.html
    http://www.allgamesbeta.com/2013/06/super-heroine-chronicle-more-characters.html
    http://www.allgamesbeta.com/2013/06/mind-0-story-prologue-battle-system.html
    http://www.allgamesbeta.com/2013/06/danganronpa-1-reload-announced-for-ps.html
    http://www.allgamesbeta.com/2013/06/atelier-escha-logy-alchemist-of-dusk_16.html

    Can you tell them apart? They all look the same to me. Nothing really stands out.

    Here are some characters from sci-fi game:

    http://rundumfoom.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/infinite_space-nintendo_dsartwork3588yuri_theboy0619.jpg
    http://www.sosgamers.com/wp-content/gallery/infinite-space/infinite-space-ds-arte-010.jpg
    http://static1.minitokyo.net/view/32/03/477682.jpg

    Don’t they just scream space exploration? That’s what you get when you never follow a red line in your art-direction. Every character could exist in every game, no matter the time and genre and that is a bad thing. They should try to limit themselves and make the best of it.

    Example: Look any mainstream japanese game that’s supposed to take place in history, like the Edo period, look at what the characters are wearing. Doesn’t fit.

    Compare those games, games like Samurai Warrior and Sengoku BASARA to Assassin’s Creed. Sure the protagonist looks different, but every guard, every citizen, every historical figure looks the part.

    Remember when Soul Sacrifice was announced? Just a few artworks and it was enough to get most of us hyped. Why? The art-direction.

    @17: You do continue to cry everytime DmC is mentioned.

    #22 2 years ago
  23. Lengendaryboss

    @Francis
    Second sentence: No proof: even Shinji Mikami disagrees with you even if he is referring to some studios it still stands. Again you don’t work in the industry (do you?) both of us know exactly what “risks” means (whether its finically viable, whether it has long term support etc. etc. ) Third sentence: No proof: no-one but yourself brought it up so that means you thought of it, also western games don’t equal shooters thats just an opinion and the majority think of shooters not everybody.

    All your doing is generalising: Give this a read and get back to me: http://iteslj.org/Lessons/Counihan-Activities/Generalisations.html

    http://allgeneralizations.blogspot.co.uk Even this i can partly disagree with.

    #23 2 years ago
  24. Francis O

    Legendarychump

    Actually, I do work in the industry of video games, just not on the development side, I’m a journalist. And lots of people would disagree with what Mikami says.

    Western developers take no risks and they mostly make boring shooters.

    #24 2 years ago
  25. Clupula

    @19 – Seriously, Francis, while you’re out caring about how many subs you have on your Youtube channel, I’m getting laid. I don’t care about things like subscribers on my channel. It makes you ridiculous that you actually think that somehow makes you important.

    It makes you about as important as the kid with the best Magic: The Gathering card at a local comic book store. Trying putting all those virtual subscribers into one hand while shitting into the other. Can you guess which hand will fill up quicker?

    #25 2 years ago
  26. Lengendaryboss

    @Francis
    The developmental side was what i was referring to not your Playeressence job. You didn’t look at the links did you. Seriously go back and look at the links. Because they prove my point rather than me repeating myself.

    Ok how about this you alternate between “clown” and “clump” and think of a third name?

    #26 2 years ago
  27. Clupula

    @25 – Ooooh…Legendaryloss! That would work! It’s a lot better than “chump.” Nobody says “chump” except henchmen in 1960′s comic books.

    #27 2 years ago
  28. DrDamn

    @23
    How do you define a shooter? FPS? TPS? Action game which has guns in it? Any game with something you shoot in it? On what basis are you saying “Western developers … mostly make boring shooters”.

    #28 2 years ago
  29. Francis O

    @Clupula …..is that the best you got? You’re getting laid so that’s why you got no subs, or you don’t care about subs?

    How about doing both? That’s just an excuse for being horrible at discussing video games. You should take all your stupid opinions you lay out here and put that on YouTube. You’ll get a lot of jackasses to sub your channel.

    @Legendarychump – I like the name. It fits you. So I’m sticking with it chump.

    #29 2 years ago
  30. Gnosis

    @27: Well, he referred to Infamous: Second Son as a shooter, so… yeah…

    #30 2 years ago
  31. Lengendaryboss

    @DrDamn
    Any game with guns in it, i think. It mainly what i said at 22 with the links.

    #31 2 years ago
  32. Lengendaryboss

    @Clupula
    Typed in Chump in google images and this is the first thing i saw.
    http://www.wallpaper4me.com/images/wallpapers/mackie_the_chump-111645.gif

    @Francis
    We had this conversation before: virtual strangers has no impact on you life it shouldn’t be used for virtual popularly when that has absolutely no meaning, its sad.

    #32 2 years ago
  33. DrDamn

    OK so that would include stuff like, Metroid then. Which apparently sucks like all shooters.

    #33 2 years ago
  34. Clupula

    @32 – That picture brings up more questions than it answers.

    #34 2 years ago
  35. stealth

    Hes backwards. Money doesnt mean risk. Japan still makes the best games

    #35 2 years ago
  36. Clupula

    @29 – Really?!?

    #36 2 years ago
  37. Clupula

    @28 – No, what I’m saying is that it’s a lot more important to me to pursue real world things than care about virtual followers on any forum.

    In fact, I regularly purge my personal Facebook whenever I feel there’s too many people I don’t know in real life on there. Have no need of faceless strangers.

    #37 2 years ago
  38. Gnosis

    @35: Yup: http://www.vg247.com/2013/06/28/infamous-second-son-video-shows-ps4-gameplay/
    I guess, it was because he can shoot fireballs out of his hand.

    #38 2 years ago
  39. Lengendaryboss

    @37
    So now he’s extending it into a game where you can shoot fireballs, but isn’t a shooter. http://mattsko.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/good-grief.jpg

    #39 2 years ago
  40. Francis O

    Infamous controls just like a third person shooter does it not? And there is a reticule…. just replace the guns with fireballs from your hands. And regular grendades with shock grenades.

    It’s a third person shooter.

    #40 2 years ago
  41. Fin

    Japanese game design definitely has not evolved and improved at the rate of western dev – look at Nintendo’s games, Zelda games, Final Fantasy games – they’re essentially the same format as 20 years ago.
    Compare that to Rockstar, Valve, Bethesda, Ubisoft.

    Mario has lives for god’s sake.

    #41 2 years ago
  42. Lengendaryboss

    @Francis
    Oh you need help my friend: its open world action-adventure video game not a shooter it has a third person camera.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infamous:_Second_Son

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third-person_shooter

    You really need help with your terminology.

    #42 2 years ago
  43. DrDamn

    @39
    So Metroid sucks?

    #43 2 years ago
  44. Lengendaryboss

    @DrDamn
    Only when it suits him :D

    #44 2 years ago
  45. deathm00n

    Just come here to say that I can’t believe anyone believe you win a argument by how much virtual people supports you. It’s like saying I’m the most beautiful man in the world because my girlfriend said so.

    #45 2 years ago
  46. Ireland Michael

    @17 “Okay, we get that you don’t like Japanese games. Move on. Jesus, you’re as bad as Francis is when it comes to first person shooters.”

    Japanese games easily make up half or more my games collection.

    My favourite developer is Platinum Games.

    My favourite game ever is a Japanese title.

    #46 2 years ago
  47. Lengendaryboss

    @44
    Exactly the point i made, when this came up before.

    #47 2 years ago
  48. YoungZer0

    @40: Guess the Ocarina of Time is also a Third Person shooter then, right?

    #48 2 years ago
  49. Clupula

    @44 – But, you guys don’t get it, My Mom says I’m special, alright?!?

    #49 2 years ago
  50. JGMR

    Western games and risks? You gotta be joking! If there are lazy and uncreative developers out there, then they’re of Western origins. Not all, but 9.9/10 are.

    #50 2 years ago
  51. Metroid455

    God dammit im sick of hearing Makami-San wine about Japanese games, just shutup already. Outside of Square/Capcom etc the Japanese gaming scene doesn’t need to invest in stupid amounts of money to make a profit AND satisfy the fanbases especially with the Otaku crowd.

    I’d be lucky if I buy one big budget game a year because I don’t need nor want everyone making all these stupidly expensive Graphic-whore type AAA games, Im perfectly happy with my favourite devs and the niche lower budget games they put out.

    #51 2 years ago
  52. JGMR

    Nothing more to add, Metroid455. *thumbs up*

    #52 2 years ago
  53. YoungZer0

    @51: His name is Mikami and there’s no need to use ‘san’ at the end of his name. You’re not in Japan. You don’t use Herr or Señor either, do you? So what’s the point here?

    Anyway, I wish Japanese developers would invest in indie as much as the western developers do. But I guess they don’t want to see anything new and interesting on the market.

    They play it as safe as possible.

    #53 2 years ago
  54. Ireland Michael

    @50 Thats great. Doesn’t change the fact that the Japanese gaming market has shrunk significantly in the last few years, and in a firstly poor state both financially and creatively.

    The current Japanese gaming market right now is as safe, uninspired and creatively barren as they come. There are exceptions… there always are. But they are not the majority of Japanese titles. Those are only the ones we get in the west.

    Saying that western development is nothing but AAA first person shooters is pretty hilarious, and is an incredibly narrow view of the industry.

    @Clupula, nice avoidance on your invalid accusation.

    #54 2 years ago

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