Vanquish Producer Attacks the Idea of East/West Developer Divide

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Vanquish Producer Attacks the Idea of East/West Developer Divide

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Sorting developers by their location is a mistake, says the former CEO of Capcom's Clover Studio.

Platinum Games' Atsushi Inaba, who has previously worked on the Phoenix Wright and Viewtiful Joe series, has challenged the idea that Japanese developers are trailing behind their Western counterparts.

Inaba, who served as producer for Vanquish, said that it wasn't particularly useful to separate developers into East and West. He thought that a better division was good developers and bad developers. He felt that it didn't matter where a studio was based, as the teams that had great ideas and talent would succeed, and those that didn't would fail. He made it clear though, that he wasn't saying that Platinum was by any means perfect.

One of the chief proponents of the idea that Japanese developers were lagging behind the West was another Capcom alumni, Keiji Inafune. Inafune famously said that Japan made "awful games" and that Western developers were five years ahead. Inaba disagreed with the Inafune's assessment however, saying that all that was happening was that some publishers weren't doing so well at the moment, and it didn't represent any sort of widespread collapse.

Source: Play

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of course it is.

we already knew that im sure

Japan's got it's own thing going on, and thank goodness for that. Maybe your average Japanese RPG won't have as many particle effects and won't be pushing as many polygons, but it won't take 10 hours to finish either. And dollars to donuts the story will be better.

no kidding, the whole East/West division borders on racist at times. And Inafune's whining made him sound like an insecure, spineless wimp.

Well there is a clear difference in the type of games coming from the west and east, but i wouldn't say japan is behind. There are good and bad developers. Platinum is just a great one. Honestly i do tend to divide them, mostly because i see traits in eastern games that i wish were in western ones and vice versa. So as much as it pains me i cant say that i completely agree, i disagree with Inafune but i agree with Kojima.

hes got a point i just think that the old guard over there has gotten too stagnent in some ways.

but in other ways just the sheer cost of game development and time might have destroyed some of the old school things we took for granted in the older games. like the days when final fantasy had open worlds to explore and things to discover up to the modern day where it probably cheaper and quicker to create a linear game rather than a game the scope of ff7 or 8.

I dont really agree with him, western and Japanese games play differently, compare FF to fallout for example, completely different. The only Japanese game I know of that isnt like the others is Demons souls. The reason there is a divide is we make different games, japan makes the majority of one type, we make another, I think wester games are better (imo) and we make different types of games to them.

Allthough vanquish looks fun.

Different developers make different games.
Different games are different not necessarily better. (I usually prefer Western games though)

I will support Keiji Inafune's sentiments if only because they make me feel suuuuuuuuuuuuuupeeeeeeeiiiioooooooorrrrrrr!

this isnt my name:
I dont really agree with him, western and Japanese games play differently, compare FF to fallout for example, completely different. The only Japanese game I know of that isnt like the others is Demons souls. The reason there is a divide is we make different games, japan makes the majority of one type, we make another, I think wester games are better (imo) and we make different types of games to them.

Allthough vanquish looks fun.

While I do agree with Inaba's sentiments that we should really be looking at things from a good/bad developer standpoint, you would also have to be blind not to recognize that there are stylistic and thematic differences at play between eastern and western developers. So I also agree with "this isn't". I don't necessarily believe the Japanese are lagging behind, they just do things differently. While I prefer western Rpg's for the most part and Japanese fps are all but non existent I can't say I've ever seen Americans produce a good fighter. And the Japanese produce some great quirky titles like Katamari or Reccetear.

Well, Western games put more focus on story, gameplay and character aspects that are more prominent and popular and the West. Same with Japan and the East.

That said, I'll take a Bioware game over a Squeenix game any day.

Inaba, who served as producer for Vanquish, said that it wasn't particularly useful to separate developers into East and West. He thought that a better division was good developers and bad developers.

Well, yes, there is a devide between god and bad developers, but there is also a difference between Eastern and Western developers too; this is something that cant be completely ignored.

A lot of Western developers use elements that we would class as "Japanese," and vice-versa. Beyond that? A lot of the best games being nowadays are typically European. Crysis, Amnesia, Minecraft - games audiences would typically associate with a Western (read: American) audience, coming mostly from Sweden...!

"Japanese" is not typical of any particular genre, and neither is "Western," or "Eastern." People use the term "JRPG" to describe a game that they associate with a feel that it's an RPG of Japanese origin, not so much that it is an RPG of Japanese origin (see: the Paper Mario series).

There generally is a difference between East and Western games, but there are some who break the norm. The RPG's have a very clear difference. Elder Scrolls vs Final Fantasy. There are some Japan made WRPGs and some western made JRPGS.

WanderingFool:

Inaba, who served as producer for Vanquish, said that it wasn't particularly useful to separate developers into East and West. He thought that a better division was good developers and bad developers.

Well, yes, there is a devide between god and bad developers, but there is also a difference between Eastern and Western developers too; this is something that cant be completely ignored.

It's important to qualify this as a cultural gap, and not a genre gap.

Andy of Comix Inc:

WanderingFool:

Inaba, who served as producer for Vanquish, said that it wasn't particularly useful to separate developers into East and West. He thought that a better division was good developers and bad developers.

Well, yes, there is a devide between god and bad developers, but there is also a difference between Eastern and Western developers too; this is something that cant be completely ignored.

It's important to qualify this as a cultural gap, and not a genre gap.

Yes, of course. That is important to note.

I think that the whole idea of separating studios is a bit dumb. There are amazing japanese games and there are amazing western games. I think that it's what makes them so enjoyable in their own right.

I grew up playing mostly japanese games, I rarely saw a good western title. Now that the west has flourished, Japan seems quite intimidated by the sheer amount of quality titles coming from the west. In that case, they could've considered making even better games, but no, the decided to give their babies to the west. Just look at Castlevania and I don't have to mention the new Devil May Cry...

Yeah, I pretty much agree separating devs into bad and good sections sounds win.

I mean overall it seems like most games out of Japan are somewhat uninspired turn-based RPGs with (cue Yahtzee rant) undernourished teenagers. I can't say it's all bad or uninspired though, Katamari FTW. Also it's not to say Western games can't suck too, cuz they often do!

I think in terms of the domestic market he is quite wrong. There are a LOT of titles that simply don't see release outside of japan, many of which tend to be more arcade orientated since the arcades still have a presence, and a lot of those have been re-treds for the past few years or lack the progress in design many would come to expect. A lot of big names have come out and stated their distain for the way many games designed for japanese audiences are being made and sold for quick short-term cash-grabs, the problem even made an apperence on BBCs "Click" technology program.

In some respects he is dead on, location should have and usually has no effect on a games quality and games like Vanquish demonstare this. I think a lot of the perception of Japan being behind the curve is the antiquated, frankly shit that Square-Enix has been farting out of late. This is a flagship company and a major one for many outside of japan too.

There are areas that many JP devs are yet to make much progress, things like technical competenceis graphics can be a bit lacking, there has been no move towards more dyamic, open or non-linier worlds as we have seen in the west, atmosphere (an area which has come on leaps and bounds i feel) can be very very lacking in many games as can variation in score or innovation in certain genres mechanics.

Tell you what: when all major Japanese games get released worldwide, I'll stop thinking of Japanese gaming developers as separate from their western counterparts.

After playing Vanquish, the joke that sprung to mind related to the headline was sorting them into good and bad, which the dev probably didn't want with Vanquish being the title on people's minds.

Too bad they ruined it for me. :'(

While I mostly agree with this, I haven't seen many truely amazing JRPG since the PSOne era, with the exception of Persona 3 and Shinmegami Tensi Nocturne. Then again maybe I'm just out of touch with them.

Aiddon:
no kidding, the whole East/West division borders on racist at times. And Inafune's whining made him sound like an insecure, spineless wimp.

Well, believe it or not racism does play a role, but now how you think. In a very literal sense The Japanese think they are better than everyone else. There is no way around that right now, and any improvement there is very slow to develop. Years ago I used to read a lot of translated Japanese periodicals to keep up with various aspects of Fandom, and to be blunt there is an attitude about how releasing things to the west inherantly cheapens them. There is a desire in the Japanese market to keep only the best things for themselves, and even among developers to want to produce things for their own people. To a very progressive society like the one in the USA this is shocking to the point of disbelief, especially since we assume as capitalists that it all comes down to the money and that businessmen are always going to be producing what will maximize their profits even at the expense of a core fan base, this is not the case.

To give some specific examples (and this goes back a while) when "Final Fantasy X-2" was coming out in the US we learned that there was going to be a third part in the story called "Final Fantasy X- Final Mission" which was going to finish the story and answer the remaining questions about that world and storyline, but was going to NOT be released to the US. At the same time, we also had the release of "Final Fantasy X- International" with additional content and difficulty levels, which was international *except* to the US, and like with "Final Mission" it was an intentional snub for the benefit of the Japanese fans, especially seeing as the series at the time was facing a lot of accusations of selling out. This move made almost no financial sense, yet it's still what they did, as the companies involved had enough money apparently, and simply felt some things were more important.

You'll also notice that if you take a look at the release schedules, that there are a lot of games, some quite high profile, that remain Japan-only despite the serious potential for international sales. The "Wizardry" series (based on the American RPG series) and "Super Robot Wars" tactical RPG series are two in paticular that would see a fairly successful release, but all excuses aside, seem to be being kept Japan-only intentionally. The comments occasionally made about liscencing and the like usually come close to being nonsensical when you stop think think about it.

Another issue is of course localization, one of the ways the Japanese cater to their racist tendencies is to hold back a game's release to other markets like the US for a year or so. The idea being that when a game is older, the fan base is less likely to care about it, since they will have moved on to other games. This means that when it comes to games made in Japan we are frequently looking at games that are six months to a year behind the technology curve. All the slight improvements made over that time period DO tend to put Japanese games behind western ones that frequently see all their localization done at the same time, and go for simultaneous international releases, or as close to it as they can, because it makes the most sense from a business perspective.

I think a lot of people in the USA, especially so called "Weeaboos" who worship Japanese culture don't quite realize what the attitudes over there are quite like. It's a sort of wierd combination between worship and vehement hate that is difficult to characterize when it comes to the US.

So basically, I think that it's very much true that right now Japanese games ARE behind the times when they hit the international market. 5 years isn't accurate, but typically about a year. This wasn't as big a deal when almost all games were developed in Japan and they had no real competition, but now with western developers on the same level, their attitudes are starting to catch up signifigantly.

To put things into perspective with a very recent example, I don't read the same stuff so I can't comment on any racial angles, but this game "Catherine" that has been getting attention from the US gaming media doesn't even have a US release date. With the buzz it's generated any sane company would be doing whatever it took to get the game over here uncensored and would be telling us that to build up more interest. In general the likely move is going to be to release it here in six months to a year, and by the time it DOES get here we're going to be looking at a game that looks like it's a year old because it is. Assuming they even care about the release over here to begin with, I mean the US interest could build domestic sales just by us wanting a game we're not going to get. It sounds odd but that was very much the attitude I got when I was reading the translated periodicals I mentioned years ago.

Scars Unseen:
Tell you what: when all major Japanese games get released worldwide, I'll stop thinking of Japanese gaming developers as separate from their western counterparts.

Pretty much this to the nth degree.

If they want to be treated without the east/west divide, then maybe they should start acting like it for a change? I mean, you don't see that much emphasis made on games made by European companies, but why? Because they don't stand apart from the rest of the world and make their products available and with foreign markets in mind as well. Whereas Japan makes many of its games aimed quite squarely only on its own market, whereas being very much out of touch with what the worldwide community might expect of games.

Not to say that *all* Japanese game developers are like that, of course. But most do seem to like wallowing in that mindset as far as I can see. I could analyze it further that it stems from a mindset of the country as a whole as to why they restrict so many of their game releases to their own country only...but bottom line is that if they want to be treated without a divide, maybe they should lift that wall that sepeartes them from the rest then and start thinking in a worldwide sense whenever they make games already?

I'm learning to appreciate non-Western games and media in general. I played my first JRPG in November (it was Earthbound) and have played some more since: Final Fantasy XIII (zzzz), chrono Trigger (now that's more like it!), and more are to come.

It doesn't seem that Inaba is denying there are differences in Eastern and Western media, but that one is not weaker or stronger than the other. Of course there are differences in the media. That's the biggest thing I have to overcome to enjoy most games from Japan. Standards are just different (not worse, not better. Just different) and it just takes some getting used to. I'm finding it's worth trying, though.

Therumancer:
le snip

This guy hit the nail on the head. Honestly, some things the Japanese game industry do just don't make any sense. Why the hell would fans of a game be so upset about it being released outside of their country? How does that make sense!?

There are differences in expectations from games between cultures and this could, I imagine, have some effect on how developers approach evolving the medium.

To disregard a variable just because someone wants to try and be "equal" seems a bit silly, I shall be honest.

Cultural gap aside, In what I have played eastern games feel really rigid and artsy, where as western games are more open. I can however see where the notion that Eastern games are bad, because we don't get a full selection of their games and when all you get to go off of is the jrpgs, which by all means need desperate updating and beat em up dynasty warrior style games we see nothing different.

For me Vanquish felt like a newer Lost planet, which I didn't enjoy because it just felt wrong across the boards. Very colorful and shiny, but sterile and cold. Trying to get back into the stone hard rigidness of what a jrpg isn't about difficulty so by all means don't go after the casuals, but now they play out as 90 hour tag alongs where everything that happens is supposed to happen and you never really had much choice at all.

So the producer of insane, over-the-top action games is.. reasonable and level-headed.

Huh, didn't see that one coming.

Japanese developers cater to a different crowd than western developers. It's not racism, they simply develop for the Japanese crowds. They still have arcades in Japan, so a lot of games are developed with that in mind. I figure we are lucky to have even got Super Street Fighter 4, and the arcades in Japan have more characters. Translating a game is time consuming and expensive, which plays another part in it. The fact is, many Western games don't do well in Japan. They seem to want nothing to do with a Microsoft product.

When all is said and done, they develop games with their target audience in mind, just like in America.

Therumancer:
To give some specific examples (and this goes back a while) when "Final Fantasy X-2" was coming out in the US we learned that there was going to be a third part in the story called "Final Fantasy X- Final Mission" which was going to finish the story and answer the remaining questions about that world and storyline, but was going to NOT be released to the US. At the same time, we also had the release of "Final Fantasy X- International" with additional content and difficulty levels, which was international *except* to the US, and like with "Final Mission" it was an intentional snub for the benefit of the Japanese fans, especially seeing as the series at the time was facing a lot of accusations of selling out. This move made almost no financial sense, yet it's still what they did, as the companies involved had enough money apparently, and simply felt some things were more important.

You'll also notice that if you take a look at the release schedules, that there are a lot of games, some quite high profile, that remain Japan-only despite the serious potential for international sales. The "Wizardry" series (based on the American RPG series) and "Super Robot Wars" tactical RPG series are two in paticular that would see a fairly successful release, but all excuses aside, seem to be being kept Japan-only intentionally. The comments occasionally made about liscencing and the like usually come close to being nonsensical when you stop think think about it.

I do believe that the reason we didn't see the release of extended FFX games is because the game was honestly not very well received. I know I didn't care for it, and X-2 was made with female audiences in mind. My girlfriend at the time LOVED it, but I didn't care for it either.

Just because a game is promising doesn't mean that they can just make it able to run on American systems and call it a day. It's more like, with a few exceptions, there is extensive amounts of work to be done to prepare a game for a foreign market. There is dubbing issues, in game voice acting if there is any, lip syncing, fixing social nuances so references in game make sense to american audiences, etc. On top of all that, by the time a game releases in America, they usually do add more content, even if it's just a few extra scenes, perhaps a movie that wasn't in the Japanese edition. I know that the releases of FFX saw some big improvements between the two releases.

For publishers that do not have international offices, they must also find an American company to back the game. That costs the American company money and they take a chance bringing a game that may not do well, even if the anticipation is high. I feel as though I should point out how companies like Activision and EA treat game properties, this is a big obstacle for games. Then their is the American development company that handles the translations. There were a few JRPG's I was looking forward too that were completely destroyed by the translations and horrendous voice work. It's situations like this that will destroy a games chances internationally.

I can't agree or disagree with what you say about their "racist" tendencies, but I have never gotten that out of interviews I have watched or things I have read.

Just a contrary opinion to your own, I mean peace. :)

Also, so many games don't make sense outside of Japan. Last time I checked there isn't a market for dating sims outside of Japan. In America people are offended by the concept of same sex relationship options in a game, let alone a whole game based around meeting and dating other people. Fighting games have taken a real crap here in America too. I love fighting games, but so many people only want more Call of Duty, it's honestly annoying. I feel lucky to have gotten a release of Tatsunoko Vs Capcom, which was a fantastic game.

Good developpers: BioWare, Epic Games, BioWare, Valve, BioWare, Naughty Dog, BioWare

Bad: Square Enix, 3D Realms, Square Enix, Nintendo, Square Enix, Sega, Square Enix

Why 3D Realms: Duke Nukem Forever

Why Nintendo: Reuse the same old shit every time, at least Metroid other M was trying to be different for once. Oh yes, in the next Zelda game, the final boss will be Ganon.

Why Square Enix: I have yet to play an enjoyable game by them, FF13, Infinite Undiscovery, The Last Remnant, all shit.

Sega: Sonic has been shit since Adventure 2 Battle

While I have your attention, heres some bad publishers: Bethesda, Square Enix

Bethesda: Rogue Warrior, Wet.

Square Enix: Everything they have ever published.

All of this is just my opinion by the way.

Therumancer:
*el snip*

First off, I always enjoy running across your posts Therumancer. They're always well thought out and thought provoking.

Second, and on topic, I've always gotten a somewhat hostile feeling about games from japan. Namely the Kingdom Hearts franchise.

The most notable are how the major games tend to release "final mixes" which are Japan only. They often add lots of new content to the games. Which would be annoying enough if they didn't release it with the english voice acting and Japanese text. (with any new content being text only) It's literally a direct "Screw you" to any member of the fanbase in an English speaking country.

The worst example of this snubbery is Birth By Sleep. The game was released in Japan...and then they started on the English localization. It took 6 months for it to get over here, it was infuriating I literally had to stop following any news pertaining to the franchise to avoid spoilers. Then when it finally was released here I frankly didn't give a damn anymore. I still don't, it's not worth my time or money.

If I have to make a point here it's this. Being condescending to the international market because of some BS superiority complex only hurts their industry. Not just Japan's but every Asian country that does this mess. It's really rather immature, and unfortunately it may well kill (or at the least greatly hurt) Japan's gaming industry.

If anyone was going to see this it's right that it was Inaba. Vanquish was brilliant, even if it was mocking western games the entire time. Professor Candide? Pangloss statues? Subtle was not in Platinum's vocabulary.

The divide is only clear in the RPG genre. JRPGs might as well still be 2D with as much as the gameplay mechanics have changed over time. Shooters and everything else, not so much.

Fearzone:
Japan's got it's own thing going on, and thank goodness for that. Maybe your average Japanese RPG won't have as many particle effects and won't be pushing as many polygons, but it won't take 10 hours to finish either. And dollars to donuts the story will be better.

Bullshit. I call bullshit on that. You just don't play enough western games/RPGs with good stories.

this is dumb...why divide? i agree with what that guy said:

"Good/Bad"
as categories instead of:
"East/West"

i play games form all over,i dont care WHERE it comes from.just as long as its fun and i enjoy it. the characters could be blobs of nothing and i wouldnt care if the gameplay was good!

i wish people will get this threw their thick heads! it saddens me when i see this sort of crap...

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