Many Japanese developers don’t understand North American market – Inafune

Tuesday, 25 February 2014 21:56 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Mega Man and Mighty No. 9 creator Keiji Inafune has said Japanese developers are a bit shy about using Kickstarter because they don’t really get what western audiences want.


In an interview with GamesIndustry, Inafune said language barriers are a problem but the real issue is more complicated.

“Looking at the data for the backers of Mighty No. 9, approximately 60% of those people were from North America. So of course, the Japanese developers would have to make something that appeals to the North American audience,” he said.

“Currently a lot of Japanese developers can’t actually tell what the North American audience wants. And until they learn how to be able to do that, that’s one of the biggest hurdles.”

Inafune said even big Japanese publishers don’t understand how to straddle both markets – or how to focus on just one market.

“For example, with Capcom and Bionic Commando, that game wasn’t really a big hit in Japan but it sold quite well in North America,” he said.

“The people in the company didn’t fully understand this, so it was hard to get them to understand there’s still a possibility for profit here, still a possibility to make a good game from something like this.

“Until we can understand the American market in that sense as well, it’s going to be hard for other private [Japanese] companies to get into Kickstarter.”

Inafune’s Mighty No. 9, which aims to fill the gap in the market left by Capcom’s recent drought of Mega Man releases, was crowdfunded to great success – but the developer says Comcept is still keen on traditional funding channels like publisher backing or private investment. Crowdfunding does allow him to bring fans into the process, though.

“We don’t want to rely entirely on crowdfunding, but it is very important to us that we can make something we want and the fans want,” he said.

“So if there is another situation where it’s something that fans want to be directly involved in, there is the possibility of another crowdfunded game. But that’s not the only option and we’re thinking of many other ways as well.”

Inafune had fingers in a lot of important pies at Capcom, including Dead Rising, Street Fighter, Lost Planet and Onimusha. Since leaving Capcom to go indie, he’s become somewhat notorious for his open criticism of the traditional Japanese games industry, and his insistence that Japanese developers must look west to learn how to survive.