Digital markets "an afterthought" for Japanese companies - Inafune

Younger generation feels "entitled" but lacks creativity, digital looked down upon, says creator

Ex-Capcom developer Keiji Inafune has accused Japanese developers of dismissing digital markets and looking down on digital content created for consoles, smartphones and social platforms.

A long-time critic of the Japanese development attitude, Inafune also said that young development talent has the wrong attitude to creativity and lacks the stamina to create hit games.

"I think that one of the issues is that creators, the top-notch high-profile game creators, don't seem to want to do digital download titles because they're an afterthought, like it's below them," he told 1UP.

The younger creators of today, they just don't have that power, they don't have that strength, that creativity.

Keiji Inafune, Comcept

"The real 'rockstar' Japanese game creators are only going to do more expensive packaged products and a lot of times, even if the idea internally is to do a complimentary digital download game that goes with a packaged product, it's kind of a hassle to try and spend some of your team and resources on a digital download when you want to keep them focused all on the main project at hand.

"So it ends up being delayed or it becomes an afterthought; it's a self-fulfilling prophecy almost. Additionally, that's going to mean that consumers aren't really into those games because the high-profile people aren't usually making them. On top of that, because that's one of the issues, a lot of times digital games will not sell in Japan and therefore the sales teams in Japan tend to not put a lot of energy and time to pushing them and marketing them the right way."

He was critical of a younger generation of game development talent, suggesting a lack creativity and a deluded attitude that Japanese development is the best in the world.

"The younger creators of today, they just don't have that power, they don't have that strength, that creativity, they're all kind of born into 'Japan is number one in the gaming industry' so all they've got now is a lot of pride without the hungry go-getter attitude of trying to become the top.

"And so what that has done now is you've got a bunch of people that feel entitled, that feel they're already number one even though they're not."

Inafune also shed light on the two new studios he created since leaving Capcom. Comcept is a team acting as think tank for projects that can span different media, while Intercept will act more as a traditional publisher and developer.

"By forming two very separate entities as companies and saying OK, the one side that's going to do the creative concepts this is going to be Comcept, and they're going to focus on all the creativity and they're not going to be limited to games, they're going to be able to do comic books or movies or games, of course, but it's all going to be about ideas.

"And then separate from that, Intercept, they're going to be the game company, they make games, they're going to be the production side, they're doing what we've always done as game creators, they're actually making the product but they're more of a process, they're more building out the games based on the ideas the Comcept side has developed."

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Latest comments (7)

In a nutshell, when developing any game one needs to consider all sorts of revenue streams for a IP.
Thus, digital distribution, DLC, and any methods to ensure longevity and IP success should be totally considered vs the resources available.
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Tony Johns6 years ago
Japan is not the number 1 development of videogames.

But they are the most creative in my own personal view.

Young Developers need that hunger and passion for doing something different than what others are doing in the West in order to survive...

They may not appeal to everyone, but at least they will carve out a niche for anime style games for example that I love from Japan.

I am not really into the realism in games, and that is just me, but if I was one of those lucky people over there in Japan I would really REALLY want to create something special to wow everyone and believe that Japan still has the magic even though most Japanese Developers can't compete with the realism of the western developers. was not realism that got Nintendo back to No1 in this generation of hardware was it?

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Jason Sartor Copy editor/Videographer, Florida Today6 years ago
I think Keiji Inafune is partially right in saying that Japan is no longer No. 1 in the sense that - I think there are just great developers all over the world now - so it is not just Japan that develops great console games.

On the other hand, I think Inafune is wrong that Japan is not creative. There is a difference between selling 5-10 million units of FPS war games and unique, original and creative games.

As examples, Oden Sphere, Okami, Shadow of the Colossus, Katamari Damacy, Valkyria Chronicles, Pac-Man CEDX and Demon's Souls are but a few examples of creative and unique games from the Japan. And of course Nintendo with the New SMB games and the 2 SM Galaxy games.

Most of these didn't sell 10 million copies, but they all are unique and creative.
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Germán Vázquez Executive Producer, Neggi Studio6 years ago
@Tony, As far as I read Inafune never mentioned realism as a complain about young Japanese game developers. I think you are confusing what he refers as lack of drive and creativity with the style of Japanese vs western games.

He never said anything about not wanting games to be "Japanese style", what he complained is that the attitude of young game developers is such that we wont be seeing as many creative ideas coming from Japan as we did before and as you mentioned that style and those stories from the past that you came to enjoy so much will somehow be lost in that new mentality.
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Haven Tso Web-based Game Reviewer 6 years ago
And seriously where is the creativity from the west that Inafune is talking about where all you got from them are FPS, hack and slash "RPG", racing game, MMO and RTS that look similar across the board? As Jason rightly pointed out, it was the Japanese who broke through the whole genre boundaries. They are the people who introduced DDR before any music genre comes up, and then they introduced Edutainment games to the general public, then they introduced Fitness games, they also introduced Pet sims - and all these were copied by western developers. So how is it that Japanese developers are not creative? I really want to see what came out of him if he is consistently making that kind of arrogant statements
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Guan Van Zoggel Freelance gamejournalist 6 years ago
Personally, I think this discussion is also rather sensitive to the definition of 'being number one'. Does this imply creating best-sellers, such as Activision's Call of Duty franchise? Or does it refer to creating unique titles, of which a few of the best are summed up by Jason? Inafune seems to approach the issue from the perspective that creativity would automatically lead to success, an argument that can easily be rejected by the aforementioned example of Call of Duty.
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Adam Yaure Studying MSc Games Programming, University of Hull6 years ago
No doubt Japan is number one for Eroge.

He's probably not concerned much about the West, but the East such as Korea and China. Japan no longer dominate the Asia market like they use to, those countries are catching up.

I think the lack of Japanese games in Digital markets is quite true though.

Hopefully his words will motivate the "hot blooded" young creators.
I look forward to the games from his studio.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Adam Yaure on 30th May 2011 11:01pm

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