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Team Ninja: Japanese devs must look beyond "Hollywood" games

Yosuke Hayashi believes Japanese industry must continue to play to its strengths to stay relevant

Team Ninja boss Yosuke Hayashi has warned of the dangers of Japanese developers attempting to emulate popular North American games.

In an interview with Gamasutra, Hayashi noted that Japanese games were almost entirely absent from the E3 press conferences, but that could suggest a way forward for the country's developers.

"Maybe if the industry is going for that Hollywood blockbuster direction, we can offer something that's different," he said. "That's Hollywood, but we can still offer solid entertainment, and make sure that it reaches the people that are looking for that solid entertainment."

Hayashi led the development of Ninja Gaiden III, which was widely regarded as a failed attempt to reach the widest possible audience. The finished product was "a Japanese hamburger for the West" that under-performed both critically and commercially.

Hayashi believes that this is broadly representative of the Japanese industry's desire to remain relevant on the international stage. However, misguided experiments like Ninja Gaiden III will lead it in a new and more constructive direction.

"All Japanese developers are right now treading water, and doing everything they can just to basically stay above water... We feel that, actually, you're going to get an answer coming from that, because everybody is so desperate to stay there and stay alive that you're going to get answers for how to move forward and how to make things work in the future."

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Latest comments (4)

Fan-Yi Lam4 years ago
Ninja Gaiden 3 under-performed commercially? According to Tecmo Koei it boosted its fiscal year earnings.
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There is some strong turth in what Hayashi-san says. The Japanese devs have their strengths, and ratehr than trying a global sea change, to dig deep into the roots of what is unique about Japanese games, capitalzie on it and make it a international best seller instead of adopting a western model wholesale.

I do miss the Japanese greats!
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Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 4 years ago
@ Dr. Chee

I agree totally.

I also agree with Hayashi... some of my favorite games are very rooted in japanese style such as SMT: Persona 3, Zone of the Enders, Xenoblade, Tales of Series, Okami and Megaman. I would love to see next generation iterations of those games.

Im defenitly thirsting to play Ni-No-Kuni. I think that title is representative of what Mr. Hayashi says.

Id hate to see a completely westernized world.
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David Radd Senior Editor, IndustryGamers4 years ago
They took a hit series and tried to make it more approachable to a mainstream audience and include more Western settings and themes. Problem is, something was lost in the transition and it was less compelling to core gamers and didn't really attract a wider audience. It shows the difficultly of tinkering with a formula that was successful in the past.
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