PlatinumGames: "Most games from anywhere aren't good"

International co-ordinator Jean Kellams starts discussion on Japanese game design

Jean Kellams, PlatinumGames' international co-ordinator and writer, took to Twitter last night to share his thoughts on the issue of Japanese game design, and argued sometimes a bad game is just a bad game, wherever it's from.

"The problems with Japanese games aren't that they are JPN games or that they are Westernised games," he said.

"The problems with JPN games are simple: Most of them aren't very good games. People don't buy those. Most games from anywhere aren't good. That's why exceptional means exceptional."

He continued over a series of tweets, going on to explain that finance also had a major role to play.

"Most Japanese publishers/developers can't invest money/manpower enough to compete with exceptional Western productions. Risk is too high. It costs money and sweat to make things stand out, but it also raises the risk. Then marketing is crazy expensive after that."

He said both countries had the capacity for making great, and not so great games, and what was important was the execution of the ideas. Part of this for Japanese developers was reducing "friction" which stemmed from wanting to ensure players didn't miss anything.

"Culturally, Japanese design is about being inclusive. They don't want anyone left behind, so they will add friction to an experience. Except then you move at the pace of the slowest one in a group. It bogs the experience down for people who already get it," explained Kellams.

He said it was like going to Macdonalds, ordering a hamburger, and having the precise components of a hamburger explained to you.

"Western games stop when the user says hamburger. They assume that user intent is initially correct. JPN games should too."

He was replying to a forum discussion on the topic, and the tweets started as replied to comments about recent action title Vanquish.

"Someone posted that Vanquish "failed" because we made the story 'dudebro.' That's weird because it implies that was the intent. For the record, no one ever tried to write the story of Vanquish in any way other than the way we wanted to write the story."

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Latest comments (5)

Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 5 years ago
I loved Vanquish... I wanna see a sequel... Platinum... Are you listening? Just make a deeper story. But the foundation has been laid with the first game. Just follow it up.
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David Radd Senior Editor, IndustryGamers5 years ago
Shinji Mikami left Platinum Games after Vanquish was finished. That, along with somewhat disappointing sales, probably sinks any potential for a sequel. And it's too bad, since the game had some great ideas in it.
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Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd5 years ago
I agree with both of you, and it's too bad. I really loved Vanquish. It was the only interesting shooter in a sea of generic TPS and FPS games. :-/
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Show all comments (5)
Matt Walker Production Coordinator, Capcom5 years ago
"For the record, no one ever tried to write the story of Vanquish in any way other than the way we wanted to write the story."

Not quite sure this explains how the game wasn't dude bro. To be fair, I've never played the game, so I don't have an opinion one way or the other.
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Joe Winkler trained retail salesman, Expert5 years ago
Vanquish was a nice pice of software. The story was "All-American-Action-Hero vs. the Evil-Russian-typical Villain", and I loved it for that. The story was trashy and (I hope I'm not the only one) I think it was absolutly intended to be as it is.
Shinji Mikami left a lot of studios in the last few years, and hopped around to every seat he enjoyed sitting in. As long as he is on the right spot for the right game, that's fine with me.
Goichi Suda was at Platinum now and then and still does his own stuff. I think Platinum is more like a good bunch of friends that can come and go whenever they want, wich is a good base for a company who can afford it (please stay, SEGA).
Back to topic: The posts sound reasonable and japanese gaming is not much more than average at the moment (exceptions not counted).
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