Archive for December, 2013

Let’s talk about Japan

December 20, 2013


Why the decline of Japanese games development is an overstated myth

To hear people talk, you’d think that the Japanese don’t make games anymore. There’s a growing cynicism and sense of schadenfreude concerning Japan’s development scene as the medium diversifies into new markets and developers spring up all over the world. Japan has lost their stranglehold over the international market, and they seem to be losing the market entirely.

Tell me if you’ve heard these: Japanese games suck, they’re behind the times, irrelevant, stagnant. Players and journalists lament that Japan can’t return to its former glory, settling instead for endless rehashes and pathetic imitations of their Western peers. Japanese developers humbly admit their games are lacking, promising to mimic Western design so they might save themselves from obsolescence.

Western games are just better. They’re larger in scope, more cinematic, more relevant, more real. Western publishers are willing to invest more money, allowing developers to create expansive worlds rich in player agency and choice. On the other spectrum, a growing indie scene is crafting more creative games than even Japan’s most original teams, and doing so on a far smaller budget. There’s nothing left for Japan to do except stop making games entirely.

There’s only one problem: That’s all a bunch of garbage.