Inafune slams Japanese industry for "making awful games"

Capcom creative head says "Japan is at least five years behind"

Capcom's head of global research and development, Keiji Inafune, has damned the Japanese game industry in a New York Times interview, claiming that it is "at least five years behind" the rest of the world.

The statement echoes previous comments which the Mega Man designer made about the state of the Japanese industry, when he claimed in 2009 that it was "finished". More recently he had appeared to change his mind and become less pessimistic about the future of his trade in Japan, telling attendees of Capcom's TGS press conference this year that "the Japanese industry is not dead as long as Capcom is still around".

His words to the NYT were uncompromising, however.

"I look around Tokyo Games Show, and everyone's making awful games; Japan is at least five years behind. Capcom is barely keeping up. The ideas, game play, design - there's no diversity, no originality," he told the paper.

"I want to study how Westerners live, and make games that appeal to them."

Inafune seemed to divide the blame between a lack of creativity on the part of Japanese designers and an absence of financial clout from their publishers.

"A lot of designers, if they find a genre that works for them, they stick with it. A lot of designers just stick to a set formula. That doesn't work any more. You can't just tweak the graphics, work just on image quality. You can't compete on that. The business side is not keeping up with investment. You need to be prepared to invest 4 billion yen or more on a game, and then spend 2 billion yen more to promote it. But Japanese companies can't do that. So we're losing out to the West in terms of investment in games."

Attendance at this year's Tokyo Game Show reached a record high this year, showing that the domestic market hasn't declined - but Capcom's profits were also at their lowest since 2004.

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Latest comments (6)

Josef Brett Animator 11 years ago
I find this really hard to take in. I grew up on a diet of rich and wonderful Japanese games and although I don't believe the situation is as dire as Inafune states, it does appear that in 'commercial' terms, there is a gulf developing between the Japan and the west.

Obviously, this depends entirely on what type of game you are looking at however.
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Al Campbell Studying Computer Games Technology, University of Abertay Dundee11 years ago
In my view, the problem is that too many companies are trying to make games completely for a Western audience and follow in the footsteps of Western deveopers. Personally, I'd rather see some of the more 'out-there' titles from the Japanese market make a push to go international. After all, look at some of the games that have made that jump: the Katamari series, Okami, even the WarioWare games have that hint of 'only the Japanese' mania to them.

If Japanese developers merely parrot the West, originality is likely to suffer, trodden beneath the heel of Yet-Another-Space-Marine-FPS-Ooh-How-Edgy.
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Private Industry 11 years ago
I can`t agree with Inafune, especially since in my eyes the Capcom games are going downhill i.e. what became of Resident Evil with the more western shooter like approach and away from being a survival horror game. There are enough companies who show that Japanese games are still good and games that feel Japanese like Bayoneta, Valkyria Chronicles, Yakuza, Okami, Resonance of Fate, Eternal Sonata, No More Heros, Star Ocean, MGS, The Last Guardian (not released but I doubt it`s going to be a bad game) and so on, but surprisingly Capcom does not come to my mind anymore when I think about great Japanese games. Sure some of those games are not cutting edge when it comes to graphics, but it`s not all about amazing graphics.

My problem is with Japanese companies given Japanese franchises to western developers i.e. Silent Hill and the next DMC. It`s not like I would not trust Ninja Theory in doing a good game, but rather the possibility that all that made the previous games good and fun will not be there because it did not match what western developers think about games.
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Jason Sartor Copy editor/Videographer, Florida Today11 years ago
"The ideas, game play, design - there's no diversity, no originality."

Does anybody else find it ironic that it is Inafune who claims a lack of originality and sticking with design is killing Japanese developers as he continues to release Mega Man IX, Mega Man X and Mega Man Universe?

Pot meet kettle.
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Haven Tso Web-based Game Reviewer 11 years ago
I don't think I agree with Capcom on this one. Seriously they are very famous with churning out sequels after sequels so what made them different from others. Sure they reinvented Resident Evil but then what else? Monster Hunter games till play the same. Devil May Cry still play the same. Another Okami game coming out and they killed Omnimusha because of lack of creativity. I will applaud them if they don't make or release Dead Rising 2 and instead work on something else that is original.

And seriously, a lot of western games are just FPS after FPS and sequels after sequels. The ones I think of are creative were titles like Scribblenauts not Halo or Call of Duty. Japanese titles like the Professor Layton series and Another Code are truly innovative titles as compared to most stuff Capcom made.

I think if Capcom wants to appease the western audience for better business it's fine but not slamming their fellow developers and make themselves look good.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.11 years ago
@Toronto Gamer. Good post but you pegged Nintendogs at about 1/4th its total. It sold 24 million. Mind boggling.

I'll grant that Japan has fallen back from the pinnacle it once held but Capcom is different than the others in their reduction in relevancy. Japanese development is and will most likely always be a very vital and important piece of the industry but Capcom most certainly isn't holding their own any better than the others right now.
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