Coming back from playing Dark Souls, which helped propel Namco Bandai's fiscal year, Epic design director Cliff Bleszinski believes that more studios from Japan should be following that game's initiative. He says that developers over in Japan must do more to consider multiplayer gaming, so that consumers from around the world can embrace their titles more and more.
"My advice to Japan is that in a disc-based market right now, you cannot [ignore multiplayer]," says Bleszinski to Gamasutra, "I'm not saying tack multiplayer onto every game."
He offers that Dark Souls has been an innovator not just in Japan, but in gaming worldwide. Bleszinski believes that the game was "one of the most innovative games" thanks to a rather unique multiplayer mechanic. He adds that "that game is going to continue to inspire a lot of Western developers to figure ways that you can have connected elements in campaign games, and have more of a blended experience."
Still though, challenges remain for development in Japan.
Bleszinski notes that games such as Grasshopper Manufacture's Shadows of the Damned could have done so much more with multiplayer considerations.
"...The dialogue had me laughing out loud, just even the key-door systems in there; it was a beautifully crazy game with really fun gameplay, but no multiplayer co-op experience in there. I'm not saying tack on versus; there's a billion different ways you can do some sort of 'players interacting with other players'."
"And if you're going to make a third-person shooter... the fact that Vanquish didn't have a multiplayer suite was a crime.
"That IP, it was pretty good as far as being Western, but the gameplay was great, the vibe... and I've often said on record that if Gears is the kind of Wild, Wild West coal train chugging along, that Vanquish is the Japanese bullet train, with style and everything. And there is absolutely no reason I shouldn't have been zipping around, doing the mega slides, diving up in the air in an arena with other players."