Keiji Inafune Expresses Discontent With Capcom Management

By Ishaan . September 20, 2010 . 12:29am

http://www.siliconera.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/keiji_inafune.jpg In an interview with Hiroko Tabuchi of the New York Times, head of Capcom R&D, Keiji Inafune, discusses at length what he feels is keeping the Japanese games industry from being able to globalise its products and attract a wider audience.

 

Inafune touches upon subjects such as investment, sticking to the formula and studying Western markets as part of his concerns. In a surprisingly candid statement, he then goes on to comment on differences in vision between himself and Capcom’s management:

 

Can you do what you want to do at Capcom?

 

I’d like to think so, but it’s becoming more difficult. I’m strong-arming a lot of things through, but I’m not sure how much more I can do. I don’t share the same management vision as the company.

 

I want to make games that travel overseas, but Capcom hasn’t taken globalization seriously. I want to study how Westerners live, and make games that appeal to them.

 

We’d like to point out that this doesn’t necessarily mean Inafune is looking to jump ship. He’s simply highlighting what one could gather from a little common sense — that when a company as a whole has been operating a certain way for over two decades, it’s difficult for a single person to change the vision of the entire organization, regardless of their position.

 

But Inafune has more to say. He continues, stating that he believes Capcom’s incentives are inadequate and says that it’s hard to tell just who’s in charge. He also comments further on the management:

 

“I’ve been fighting for many years now to change these things one by one. But the business side is resisting change. They think developers are stupid and don’t understand business. That’s why I can’t be on the board of directors.

 

That’s the difference between Capcom and Nintendo. At Nintendo, 80 percent of the board is from development. At Capcom, it’s zero. All the business side cares about is protecting their own interests.”

 

Inafune-san has a lot more to say on the growth of the industry and Capcom’s recent faults when it comes to globalization, so click over to the interview and give it a read.


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  • WonderSteve

    Maybe it’s just me, but I think Keiji Inafune is little obsessed with pleasing the Western audience. Dead Rising is a success, but I think Lost Planet is a failure. I am kind of worried Capcom will lose its soul after seeing the dmc5 trailer.

    • landlock

      Lost Planet 1/2 sold 2.7. Million copies as of May 10 2010 placing it just under Breath Of Fire series. I’d hardly call that a failure.

      Dead Rising 1 didn’t manage to shift 1 million.

      • WonderSteve

        Wait a minute there, you are combining the sales number of 2 LP games to compare with 1 DR game. There is something quite wrong with the logic. Also the LP games are on PS3 and 360, but DR is only on 360 so far.

        As far as I know, the first LP sold almost 2 million on both platform together. The first DR sold around 1.8 million as 360 exclusive. The 2nd LP hasn’t even hit 1 million yet. We of course have to see what the numbers are for DR2 soon.

        I say DR is more successful in that aspect, it sold almost the same number as LP even though it is an exclusive.

        And the following is just a personal opinion, I think DR’s gameplay is a hit, and LP is only so-so.

        • landlock

          Dead Rising was also released on the Wii. Dead Rising sold 1.6 Million on the XB360.

          http://www.capcom.co.jp/ir/english/business/million.html

          Lost Planet 2 (XB360/PS3) sold 1.5 million and Lost Planet (XB360) also sold 1.5 million. I wonder what there expections were.

          • Tokyo Guy

            Well the problem with Lost Planet 2 IMHO is that it took away all the elements that made the original good, namely a main character and a coherent story.

          • NeoTechni

            The Wii version was a pile of crap simply because it was on Wii

            You cant take a game that depends on a massive amount of processing power, a pinnacle of next gen technology, and put it on a last gen system and not expect it to suffer

      • malek86

        They expected a lot more out of LP2 though. In fact, this year Capcom has had some pretty bad results overall.

      • NeoTechni

        Sales do not equal quality

    • Guest

      Not to mention he and Capcom got Tastunoko vs Capcom over here which was the catalyst to creating Marvel vs Capcom 3. As impossible as it seemed to get TvsC over here and Europe due to the whole multiple license issues, that’s a great example of a strong effort in globalization if I ever saw one.

      Now if Keiji was working for BANDAI NAMCO then I’d see a point to his disappoint.

      • WonderSteve

        landlock: Thanks for the correction on numbers. I still think the sales of the two series are too closed to call though, but I say DR is more critically acclaimed.

        In the end, if Keiji Inafune is so unsatisfied, he should just quit and form a studio himself, or go work for Epic or Bungie.

  • Ereek

    I want to study how Westerners live, and make games that appeal to them.I can respect this man for this sentiment. He actually wants to learn rather than just assuming “Westerns like big burly men in a brown world who curse while having sex with D cup women.” On the other hand, it’s very difficult to make a generalization on what westerners enjoy. For example, I’m actually not fond of the idea of “westernizing” the DMC series. it’s the Japanese influences (yes, DMC is a very Japanese-styled action game, live with it) that made me enjoy it. That’s not to say I’m against change, for I am interested in seeing what NT will do to the series. I think in some cases western gamers do enjoy the Japanese influences, such as the over-the-top Bayonetta. For me it will be a very sad day when all “AAA” titles cater to the western audiences.It’s strange he says Capcom isn’t taking globalization seriously, though, since I think they’re one of the companies off to a better start.

    • http://www.siliconera.com/ Ishaan

      Inafune sounds like he wants to be ahead of the curve instead of trying to play catch up, which is what Capcom are doing now…and it sounds like the management might be getting in the way.

      I can appreciate how ambitious he is, honestly. Few developers have the kind of drive that Inafune does to transform a company as large as Capcom.
      And hey, for all of the complaints and people making fun of Bionic Commando and Dark Void — they tried. And despite failing twice, Inafune’s still trying, which is admirable. :)

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1472407455 Charles Lupula

        No less than Albert Einstein said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

        • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/W6TMBSN7GKFPT3KAOYP6FZR5VU Strider Tom-Tom

          I know, athletes like long jumpers, keep jumping to improve there distance and hopefully get a different/better result. You are right, they are insane!
          Keiji should give up and do “by the numbers” sequel to DMC4 (like DMC 2)

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1472407455 Charles Lupula

            Argue with Einstein, not me. He said it. But wait, he’s dead. Are you going to pick on someone who isn’t around anymore to defend themselves?!? For shame!

        • Tokyo Guy

          When you look at Capcom on the whole, it would seem as if 75% of the company is built on doing the same thing over and over. I mean look at their core games: Rockman, Street Fighter, Monster Hunter, Sengoku Basara…are their respective sequels not basically the same game as the original with minor edits here and there?

      • Guest

        Take a look at the Western fighting games…what do we have….Mortal Kombat. That’s it. There’s somethings the West can do better than the East and some things the East can do better than the rest. Market your talents accordingly and people will be interested. Try to play catch up and you will always be left behind. But trying to imitate in order to “be ahead of the curve” is NOT the way to go.

      • thebanditking

        The problem with Inafune is he always fails to realize what games actually could benefit from a “western” design approach. Resident Evil was already a global oriented property, as was DMC, Lost Planet, Street Fighter and Dead Rising. So lets look at something:Games considered successful:RE4Dead Rising 1Lost Planet 1SF4/SSF4Games considered failures:Lost Planet 2 Dark VoidBionic CommandoRE5basically it seems that when Inafune tries to “westernize” games that(IMO) are already designed to do well globally, it back fires. Now look at DR2, a game that is being anticipated by plenty of people and one I personally feel will do very well. Why? Because it is sticking close to its roots, which are already globally successful. Now look at the reaction DmC is getting, not positive in any sense and its something that I feel will haunt that game up to its release. Inafune is chasing western success so heavily he often fails to realize when something already works.

        • malek86

          Can we really put RE5 under the failures section? I thought it sold a whole lot.

          • http://www.pixiv.net/member.php?id=2704923 Buntar0

            http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=23743

            About 5 millions by 2009, was their third best selling title ever. Now they also released the Move edition of RE5. 30€/$ for this ‘controler update’ edition will bring them a lot of cash. Not a commercial failure at all.

            I agree with the other 3 ‘failures’ though. They perfromed way below expectations. I don’t have a source right now, but searching for Capcom financial reports will confirm this.

  • malek86

    While I can agree with his sentiment overall (I think it’s true that most japanese games have stayed behind, both technologically and in gameplay), I wonder if this guy isn’t exagerating a bit. I mean, all he talks about nowadays is “Japan sucks”, he doesn’t say anything else.

    • Hraesvelgr

      It’s a good way to get people to pay attention, I guess.

      • thebanditking

        Yeah but is what he’s saying worth hearing?

        • malek86

          Probably not, for two reasons:1) There are still a number of good japanese developers2) There are tons of western developers who make better games than him

  • xxx128

    People are stupid Keiji. Just pump enough millions into marketing as the western companies do and turn shite into gold :P

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1472407455 Charles Lupula

    If he had his way, I guess the next Street Fighter would be designed by Ed Boon. Stop trying to appeal to Westerners. Your games were great before BECAUSE they were very Japanese. The disaster that is “DMC” should show you that you are going the wrong direction is trying to appeal to us. I hate to agree with the corporate suits, but maybe they’re right in this case.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1472407455 Charles Lupula

      All I keep thinking of is how much better Capcom was when they had the people from Platinum (Clover) working for them. If Capcom had maybe spent the time to actually put some serious marketing dollars into the Clover games, maybe they would’ve sold. I loved Okami. The critics loved Okami. But I still meet people who haven’t even heard of the game. I don’t recall even a single commercial for it. THAT is what sells to the West. A shiny commercial. That’s why people act like Halo is something to be excited about. Because Microsoft hype it up like the second coming. THAT is how you make a game successful in the West.Can you imagine if something like Vanquish actually had a huge marketing budget, with billboards, posters, ads on the sides of buses, etc…? The game would sell HUGE. Instead, the idea seems to be to outsource to Western developers. Didn’t he learn anything from Bionic Commando?

      • Tokyo Guy

        I agree, though I will say that IMHO Front Mission Evolved is the best game in the entire series. Sometimes Western developers can do a good job with a Japanese franchise.

      • Guest

        Yeah thats one thing I’ll agree on…often the marketing for some of these games suck unless its backed by Microsoft or SCEI or EA/Acitvision is pumping huge $ into another generic FPS

      • Belenger

        Well Capcom itself disbanded it because there was too much talent on a single team, hell if you looked at Clover credits you could notice that the people on Okami/God Hand where also responsible for games like SF2 series, Jojo Bizarre Adventure part3 and 5 and few other niche excellent games, after Capcom decided to incur in the rage of Clover by disbanding them the team just went for their logical solution “screw capcom” and they left shortly.

        Its no wonder why Inafune is pissed at the company the most talented team they ever got assembled got scrapped by management decisions and then lost because of it, think about it “how many In-house games truly Capcom develop these days”.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1472407455 Charles Lupula

    Just took the time to read the interview. The fact that he thinks the problem with Lost Planet 2 is that it was “too Japanese” should show that he has absolutely no idea what he’s talking about. If anything, the game felt like it was bending over backwards to be a Western-style game.

    • Tokyo Guy

      Could not agree more. Lost Planet 2 basically took all of the “Japanesey” elements from the first game and threw them out the window. LP2 was a total “western” game if you ask me.

      While I have no doubt Capcom’s management is that of a traditional Japanese company, it would seem Inafune is somewhat delusional as to what a “western” game is. Why not comment about an obvious issue, like the Sengoku Basara series.

      • thebanditking

        I agree with both of you, and its why LP2 was a terrible game. Like most western games it was simply just too multiplayer focused, much like RE5.

  • http://honorless.net honorless

    We basically want to make games that will sell globally, but some games might sell only in Japan. That’s O.K. – as long as we make a profit on it.But Japan only has an 8 percent of the global gaming market. [...] So it’s getting increasingly hard to make a profit on a game just for the Japanese market.It seems strange to me that Inafune would say this and then propose the solution of invest[ing] 4 billion yen or more on a game, and then spend[ing] 2 billion yen more to promote it. Right now, the gaming landscape is littered with the remains of smaller devs (mostly Western, but no doubt a few Japanese too) who’ve made the mistake of pouring millions of dollars and multiple years of dev time into a single game or two. And then the sales just aren’t there. (Dark Void lol) Or maybe the sales are decent—but they’re not enough to fill the gaping hole left by the bloated dev budget (Lost Planet 2). Capcom is large enough to endure a few of these, but for how long? The approach just doesn’t seem very healthy.

  • Tokyo Guy

    “They think developers are stupid and don’t understand business.”Just run over to Nintendo, then. They will promote just about anyone to a senior position, qualified or not.Though I have to say his comments are really falling on deaf ears. The problem with Capcom’s management could be said about 99% of the companies in Japan. They have absolutely archaic values and ideals that quite simply, have no place in the globalized world we live in. If I had a dime for every time I have heard a Japanese salariman complain about his company’s x, y, or z…I must admit it is interesting to see this kind of comment being lobbed at Capcom of all developers. IMHO Capcom has always been more pro-western with it’s games and design choices, much more so than Square or even Namco.

  • shion16

    that explain why we have so much games with more than 7 parts(RE by example)

  • MrRobbyM

    I’ve had enough of this guy. Someone slap him across the face with a hoagie please.

  • http://yirba.50webs.com/ Yirba

    I really hope Inafune-san doesn’t leave Capcom. Mikami-san, Kamiya-san, Inaba-san, Fujiwara-san… Even a couple of people I know have left our local Capcom office. If things go on as they are, soon there’ll be no one left to make games!

  • Souji Tendou

    Look, says the guy who give the next DMC development to Ninja Theory. Don’t worry Inafune, we love the new Dante already. *sarcasm*

    Seriously, even if the gameplay will have a huge improvement, I still doubt I’m gonna love the game, because I’m used to old Dante looks.

    I KNOW it’s a reboot but still…. I can’t seem to get over it somehow. ;_;

  • masuto

    I don’t like Keiji Inafune anymore. He’s too cocky. He should go back and play Mega Man 3.

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