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Inafune: Kickstarter is "confidence-building" for Japanese devs

Mega Man creator believes Bloodtstained and Shenmue 3 success proves that demand still exists

Keiji Inafune sees Kickstarter and crowdfunding as a catalyst for the resurgence of Japanese console and PC developers, restoring confidence after a long period of uncertainty.

In addition to being a veteran of Capcom and the creator of Mega Man, Infaune is also one of the Japanese industry's most assertive critics. But the situation is improving, and Kickstarter is a big part of the reason why.

"It's been a confidence-building exercise," he said in an interview with Eurogamer. "Japanese people have been able to see through crowd-funding efforts for titles such Mighty No.9, Yu Suzuki's Shenmue 3 and Koji Igarashi's Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night that there is a demand for our games. We're not dead.

"We've planted a seed and it's growing. Now we need to deliver on our promises so that the plant can flourish"

"And it's a good feeling to see that our belief in these projects was not misplaced - even though publishers passed over them. We've planted a seed and it's growing. Now we need to deliver on our promises so that the plant can flourish. If we can achieve that, the long-term positive effects will be significant."

The three projects he mentioned, including his own Mighty No. 9, have been record-breakers on Kickstarter. Bloodstained is currently the most funded game in the history of the service, for example, and that may change by the time Shenmue 3 closes its campaign in two weeks time. Inafune has been asking serious questions about the state of the Japanese industry for many years, on both commercial and creative grounds. Based on this interview, he sees crowdfunding as a tonic for both ailments.

In the past, Infaune has extolled the virtues of making alliances with developers in Western markets: the US, Europe, Canada, and so on. He's doing just that on his new project, ReCore, with the Austin-based Armature Studio. Koji Igarashi is also working with Armature on Bloodstained.

The reason, he said, is to fill the gaps in the skillset of Japanese developers, to match their boundless supply of ideas with the technical and practical expertise required to compete on an international level. And the process will yield benefits to all parties.

"I think the true meaning of game design has been lost in recent years"

"In a good way, we Japanese creatives bring to the table these fluffy ideas of world and character settings... When I see successful Western games, there's a sense of scale: a big world and big things. But when it comes down to themes or core ideas, I feel like there is way too much of the same thing. There are small differences in sequels, but it never strays far from the core successful ideas.

"You know, I think the true meaning of game design has been lost in recent years. If you're an aspiring game designer and you join large team most likely you will be told: 'Here's our template. Your job is to make it more... splashy.' That is not real game design! Things are better in the independent scene - although not everyone there is doing inventive work. But I do see more of a desire to make new types of games in new types of ways.

"The more creators we have from that side, the better chances our industry has for broadening its overall portfolio, the spread of genres. God, I hope our industry can support those efforts. We need a wider variety of games to play."

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Matthew Handrahan avatar
Matthew Handrahan: Matthew Handrahan joined GamesIndustry in 2011, bringing long-form feature-writing experience to the team as well as a deep understanding of the video game development business. He previously spent more than five years at award-winning magazine gamesTM.
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