Facebook Files: Where Will Keiji Inafune Go Next?

By Ishaan . November 7, 2010 . 10:26am


In honour of Inafune and his accomplishments, this had to be the discussion of the week, now that the shock has worn off and everyone’s had a chance to think.


Now that Inafune has stepped away from Capcom, where do you think he should go next, given his talent?


Ishaan wrote:

This is a funny story: Just last month, Spencer and I were talking about Inafune and how unhappy he seemed at Capcom after we ran that New York Times interview he did and sounded off on their management. At the time, we joked about how he’d eventually quit and go straight to Level 5, where he’d have his own Global R&D team, called the "Inafune Eleven."


So let’s talk about this a little more seriously. Where do we all think Inafune’s going to end up?


I’m going to stick with Level 5 because he’s expressed interest in them before. Level 5 are also just starting to move ahead with their global publishing plans, so entering at this point would allow Inafune to help shape the company’s global reputation from the ground up..


It would take some of the heat off CEO, Akihiro Hino, as well — at the moment, he’s L5’s only visionary. There’s plenty of room for Inafune to grow, and eventually, if he still cares, to even join L5’s board of directors.


Samwise wrote:

Hmm, Level 5 would actually be a great place. I’ve seen people say like "He’s not Japanese enough to work there" but I got two things to say to that: First, why is there no room for his action games? Y’know, a new taste at Level 5’s output.


Second, is just what you say Ishaan, he’s not really that un-Japanese, he’s just a nice guy. And I could easily bet that a lot of his Western-er things are just a cause that he loves American movies (you see this a lot in Dead Rising), and also isn’t that how Capcom has been going with everything? Pretty much a whole face of Japanese development has been going that way.


I just really dislike personal attacks on friendly guys because people aren’t fond of his games. I can’t enjoy Mega Man games (except Legend), but he’s such a nice guy who’s done so much, I can’t help but respect him.


Patrick wrote:

Personally I’d love to see him go to Grasshopper Studios and start working with the twisted mind of Suda 51. He’s negative views about Japanese game development and I think Suda 51 is probably the most innovative developer in Japan right now, but his mechanics are usually a little off. So I’d love to see a game with Suda 51’s crazy style and innovation, and Inafune’s solid game play mechanics.


I’m just wondering how this is going to affect Megaman Legends 3. Was he ever even working on the game?


So, where do you think Inafune will go next? Fire away in the comments, and remember to be respectful!

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  • He should just join an American company, so he can avoid another Capcom fiasco, but Level 5 seems like the logical step for him. He can start from the ground up like someone mentioned and shape the companies global R&D in his image.

  • LV5 is good place for him to go but if he went to a American company il have to say BioWare

    • I don’t really see why he’d be a good fit for Bioware, though. I mean he doesn’t have many RPG’s to his resume.

  • doubletaco

    Found an indie game studio.

    • I don’t know. He was saying RE5 didn’t sell enough and it sold in the millions, but not GTAIV/COD millions, so if he’s that focused on sales numbers, I can’t imagine he’d want to start something smaller.

  • Code

    rar, he should just start up his own company or work something, or join up with his old buddies at Platinum games, they seemed to enjoy making original games, and have had success in North America, and targeting the American audience >ww<~!

    • Yusaku_Matsuda70s

      As long as he didn’t have a hand in disbanding Clover back in the day, Platinum might take him… but who knows… I don’t think he’s suited for Level 5 either.

      • To my knowledge, and I could be wrong on this, but from what I’ve read, he and they are not exactly “old buddies.” He hadn’t said the nicest things about their Clover output, really. Not to mention, are there many studios out there that make games that are more Japanese than Platinum? I mean Vanquish even comes off as super Japanese, not to mention Bayonetta.

        • Code

          Oh I definitely agree about Vanquish coming off very Japanese, to me it’s still far more akin to Gunstar Heroes then any American FPS I know of. But still you can’t deny the intended audience is an American audience.

          • Yeah, but there’s a difference between, saying, “Let’s make a game, in our style, that Americans will probably like,” and sitting down and micromanaging every aspect of a game to determine whether particular focus groups will like this or that. I can imagine a game like Vanquish would not have come out of a company with Inafune in charge, or if it did, it would have its wackier, more-Japanese elements severely turned down. I don’t imagine you’d still be, you know, punching the heads off giant mechs, for example, and there would be a distinct lack of dancing robots with homicidal boomboxes.

          • Code

            Did someone say wackier elements? http://i.imgur.com/mbdT4.gif

          • Well, guy on a bicycle in his underwear is not a uniquely Japanese element. If anything, you could probably see that sort of thing in any number of Will Ferrel movies.

          • Code

            @Charles LupulaNeither are robots with boomboxes, or kicking off robot heads — but I get your point >ww<~!

        • Ah, I found what I was looking for, where Inafune talks negatively of Inaba:

          When you looked over the games that came from Clover Studios, why do you think that audiences didn’t respond to those games, Okami and Viewtiful Joe in particular, which got excellent reviews?

          Inafune: Perhaps I might get into trouble if I say this in front of people from the mass media. Games are not a work of art. It’s actually a product. If we think of it as a work of art, then… when we think about Picasso and Van Gogh’s paintings, the end result is beauty, so it doesn’t matter if you sell it or not. However for games, it’s a product. It is a commodity. The producer has to think about that.

          Okami and Viewtiful Joe, I think, are wonderful games and because they are wonderful games I think, the job of the director was fantastic. But the producer didn’t do his work. The producers work is to make the team make good games and then sell those games. The producer has to do the promotion. They have to think about the promotion. The producer has to take those good games and think about how to deliver it to as many users as possible. Certainly to get good reviews is part of his job. However, the producer has to make sure the game sells [on par with the review]. I think the producer dropped the ball there. Capcom said they would do it, but Clover said “Oh, we’ll do it ourselves.” And I think this was a failure.

          Great directors may exist in great numbers, however, if you don’t have a good producer it won’t lead to sales. And I think this Clover Studios example is a really good example of that.

          Yeah, after saying that, even outside of the Westernization thing, I can’t see Platinum wanting to work with Inafune.

          • Code

            Yeah very true, I had caught that earlier after looking into it some — chances are they wouldn’t be a good fit, Inafune probably wouldn’t be too eager to go there, and Inaba wouldn’t be took eager to have`em from the sounds of it >ww<' but the days have changed and gaming have evolved even more so into an artistic medium.

    • RupanIII

      Plus, if he worked for an American designer, the language barrier would keep him on his toes like he was saying in that interview haha (must keep performing, do not nourish complacency, etc) assuming he doesn’t speak eigo anyway

  • Guest

    Level 5 would be an interesting choice, but aren’t they concerned with all of their gaming properties being part of some larger media franchise? I fear that he would feel a bit inhibited in that some of their media stuff seems to have, in the past, only stay in Japan?

  • He really should go to an American company. I keep saying Activision, only because he seems to want to be at a company that sells more than 3-4 million copies of a given title, and if you’re talking that high, we’re talking Bobby Kotick’s house. I’m sure they could easily find a Call of Duty spinoff for him to work on or maybe even expand the franchise beyond the FPS realm.

    It may sound like I’m just being obnoxious about this, but I’m completely serious. I don’t see him fitting in at Level 5 or Grasshopper or any of those more Japanese-focused studios. I’ve seen people say he should go to Platinum and that seems like an even worse choice for him than Level 5.

    His obsession with Westernization would get him in the way at most Japanese companies. If he were to move to a Western one, that would no longer be an issue and he could focus on actually making games again, instead of trying to fight for his personal views with corporate.

    • leeorv

      I’d personally love to see him join up with one of Sony’s “Big 3” Exclusive development teams for action games,

      of course, I’m referring to Sucker Punch, Naughty Dog and Insomniac.

      all of his new views and old experience will shine bright at any of those.

      • Yeah, he would fit in perfectly at any of those.

      • Yusaku_Matsuda70s

        I’m sure he’d be able to bring something unique to those three, but they’re so talented and focused it doesn’t seem like they would need him. I’d personally rather see him go into a less experienced company or one that lacks a distinct identity, and brew up a storm to surprise the world.

  • Yui

    I’m just not sure how comfortable I am with the idea of him ending up at an RPG-heavy development studio. I enjoy my generic JRPGs enough without excess westernization, thank you very much, but if he ended up at a western, action-game-based studio, I’d be perfectly happy with whatever he and his creative/developmental associates churned out. =D

    • How many JRPGs take place in an unambiguously Western setting?

      • Setting wouldn’t be the problem. Gameplay would be. We all know how Westerners can’t stand turn-based gameplay, for example. Put him with a Japanese RPG developer and he’d be doing all he could to stop them from having turn-based battles. That’s just an example of one of the many things that could go wrong if he were with Level 5.

        • Level 5 can RPGs without Turn Based gameplay. Look at Dark Cloud. Dark Cloud 2 was pretty good but I wish it was more fluid in its animations. Thats the only thing that really bugs me is the lack of fluidity and thats about it besides excessive fan service and generic clichéd jrpg stories. Anyways, that’s now, back in PS2 era I wasn’t so bothered by it.

          • Hello. Giving an example. As in, they decide, “Hey, we’re contracted to work on an RPG, let’s make it turned based,” at which point, he would pop his head in the room and say, “You can’t make it turn-based! Western audiences don’t like turn-based combat! And that character is wearing a school girl outfit! Western audiences do not like excessive fan service! Change it! Make it more like Oblivion or Fallout!”

            I am saying that too many of the things that make Level 5 games great are things that could be considered stereotypically Japanese and would, therefore, turn off Western audiences in Inafune’s mind.

          • Even so, Level-5 hasn’t done a turn-based rpg in a while that wasn’t on DS or Dragon Quest VIII. Dark Cloud, Rogue Galaxy, and White Knights Chronicles are quite action oriented. I don’t see as to why they would ever consider going back to turn-based on any console game.

            Level-5 has great ideas though they are still in their infancy and have a lot of potential in which Inafune could be a great help. They have established franchises and the work they did on the Dragon Quest series is excellent. Dragon Quest IX is like the biggest thing to hit Japan besides cooked noodles (Pokemon is tied, if not higher). I’m surprised that after DQIX, they didn’t decide to buy someone to help with their game development.

          • To OnesOwnGrief…

            1) Have you seen the trailer for Ni No Kuni for PS3? Looks turn-based to me?
            2) Why would a title not matter if it was on the DS?
            3) Anyway, you are completely and totally missing the point. Do you know what it means when I say something is an example? The fact that you’re even arguing with me over a FOR INSTANCE in the same breath that you said you hated the Japanese tendency towards fan service and “cliched jrpg stories,” should tell you something. You just brought up two more things that some people happen to enjoy, but the majority of the Western audience doesn’t like. So you gave TWO MORE EXAMPLES before completely derailing the conversation into a discussion of turn-based battles, when I simply used them as an example. Do you get it now? Please say yes. I really would rather not have to make a chart.

          • PersonaBull

            I really don’t understand why everyone goes the “make it like this already-established game!” route when arguing Inafune’s westernization. He’s asking for innovation, not just another mimic. His problem with Lost Planet 2 was that they changed it and made it more like Monster Hunter, for example.

            Also, if they were being contracted to work on an RPG, such as Dragon Quest, elements such as it being turn based would be previously decided by the people/company contracting them.

            Regardless, Inafune’s opinions seem to be aggressively misconstrued. His entire problem with Japanese gaming companies is that they go with a set formula and ignore most possibilities for innovation. If the people I was trying to create a new project with said, “Okay, we’re gonna make an RPG. Let’s make it turn based,” without a real reason besides “it’s easier” or “it sells better” I’d be a little offended, too. I’d imagine Inafune would be more inclined to say “what kind of turn-based system?” or “what are the advantages and disadvantages of turn-based over another battle system?” or, in a more specific example, “how could the turn-based battle system be used to portray storyline events better, as opposed to a real-time system using a seamless scene transition.”

            The over-simplifications people use end up ignoring the various justifications behind a person’s thought processes.

          • Obviosuly he’d be working on a different game from the RPG… he wouldn’t just attempt to Americanize an RPG, he’d be up to his own idea among the standard L5 stuff.

          • @PersonaBull – do you have a specific quote on Lost Planet 2, where he said it was made too much like Monster Hunter, or are you coming to a conclusion of your own?

          • @Samuel – If he’s not going to do the “standard L5 stuff” why even bother having him come in? I mean, say, Cliff Bleszinski could probably design a great FPS game for them too if he ever left Epic and I’m sure Peter Moore could certainly help promote sports titles for them too, but would it make sense to bring them in, when they don’t make first person shooters or sports titles? Why would they want to bring Inafune in if his experience doesn’t gel with the type of games they make?

          • PersonaBull

            Yes, he said so himself in this interview: http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/20/one-on-one-keiji-inafune-game-designer/

            “Q.: Will there be more collaboration with, or acquisitions of, overseas developers?

            A.: Buying overseas companies is just a start. It’s like marriage. Capcom bought Blue Castle. We said, “Let’s get married.” But marriage is a long process. You can’t just buy someone and say, “O.K., now we can make good games.”

            Lost Planet 1 was designed for the Western market. But the guys who made Lost Planet 2 were misguided. They made it too Japanese. They made it like Monster Hunter.”

          • Yusaku_Matsuda70s

            The faces in that game. Their eyes were creepy and their expressions dead. O_O Ruined the conversations and cut scenes for me.

      • Yui

        Off the top of my head? The Wild Arms series, as far as my experience with it goes…possibly Valkyria Chronicles. Maybe more. =D

        (Edit: Filgaia seems pretty western to me. ;P)
        (2nd Edit: No more edits. Also, somewhere along the way I seem to have lost my point. =D)

  • maxchain

    He’ll start his own studio and just sorta mess around for a few years, before putting out a handful of entertaining games that nobody ends up playing. It’s worked for Prope!

  • MisterNiwa

    Well it is 201X, he will most probaly try to stop Dr. Wily who stole the Robot Masters from Capcom.

  • HPN

    Inafune should start his own studio and sign a publishing deal with 2K or Bethesda Softworks or he should join ranks of Gearbox, Epic Games or Valve.

  • PersonaBull

    He obviously can’t and wouldn’t join an American company. He’s stated how much he loves Japan and how vehemently he wishes to save it from itself. Jumping to an American company, after he’s stated Japan could not meld well at all with the US Gaming market for years at this point, would be contradictory and pointless. If he left the country for another company he certainly wouldn’t be going too far from it.

    I’m going to agree with Level 5. They’re an ambitious group with a lot of room to grow, and I think Inafune (even just temporarily, mind you) and Level 5 would both benefit from each other’s influence.

    • Why can’t he join one? Do you think many American companies would turn him down?

      And honestly, Japan does NOT need to be saved from itself. All of his attempts at Westernization have been failures, with the exception of Dead Rising 2.

      • PersonaBull

        He “can’t” because of his own personal reasons is how I meant that. He’s obviously quite capable of securing a job at many gaming companies.

        Also, that’s a matter of opinion. It’s obviously quite controversial whether or not Japanese gaming companies are growing stagnant in their innovation, but Inafune certainly believes it to be the case. All of his attempts at innovation were seen by him as crushed by his superiors at Capcom. But, given the topic at hand, Inafune’s beliefs will highly influence his next big decision in life: where to go next.

  • [The Hunter] Doomrider

    Suda did want to create a Mario-like “cute” character… Maybe Inafune could help him out.

    I’m just kidding, I have no idea.

    • puchinri

      Well, Wada probably has that covered now.

      But that would be interesting to see Inafune do that for them. Except I can’t think of many “cute” characters that he’s created entirely on his own. (I’m sure there are plenty, I just can’t think of them.)

      • [The Hunter] Doomrider

        Completely forgot about him. Yup, you’re right.

        Wasn’t Inafune the one who designed Megaman? Isn’t he… “cute”? =P

        Zenimax will buy his future, hypothetical studio and we can all stop speculating.

        • puchinri

          Ah, well apparently, Megaman was already designed when he was put on the dev. team.

          That works.

          • [The Hunter] Doomrider

            Really? I thought only the name was decided… Thanks for the info then!

  • puchinri

    He should join Ninja Theory.

    But a good company for him? I honestly don’t know if I’d want to see him at Level-5 or if he’d fit. And I hear he made a somewhat questionable statement in regard to Clover, so Platinum would be out of the question.

    But I do agree, he would probably fit well with GHM.

    Honestly, I think he’s best off making his own company.

  • Yusaku_Matsuda70s

    A collaboration between those three up top in the picture would be impossible… impossibly GODLY. But mostly impossible.

    I always thought, and have actively voiced, that I thought he should go to a smallish J-dev like Grasshopper or Platinum. Despite resulting creative potential, I now I realized that’s not such a good idea. In fact, Inafune going to any game developer that already has a driven, visionary, director/ leader with a strong personality at the chewy center is a bad idea. Since he is one of those himself, his involvement is likely to result in endless ego banter and creative clashing.

    Suda, Mikami, Kamiya, Itagaki, Kojima and Nagoshi all have teams tightly built around their persona, and there’s no room in any of their companies for two creative big shots. Inafune needs to carve his own niche.

    • Not so for Suda51, think about how many new guys he just let into Grasshopper in order to facilitate more creativity and releases?

      • Yusaku_Matsuda70s

        As far as I can see, none of the people he hired are anywhere as visionary as he is, with the “auteur” traits of being not only endlessly ambitious, but have a publicly colorful personality and always completely clear/ outspoken in what he wants. The closest seems to be Yamaoka, but he primarily does music so there’s no clash.

  • I really didn’t think much about Inafune during his later years in Capcom but judging by what he said in the recent interview, I think he should just make a new studio on his own like Itagaki did. He’d be free to do whatever he wanted.

    Also, I wouldn’t want him near Platinum Games though since he did dissed Clover Studios and one of their producers years ago. Wouldn’t want bad blood in there or anything.

  • Tom_Phoenix

    I don’t know what he is going to do, but I do know what he SHOULD do. Make a new company and start fresh again.

    The problem with many developers in already established companies is that they lose sight of what is important. They end up making games for themselves rather than gamers. Looking at Inafune’s success (or rather, lack of) with some of his recent games, it is possible his views are currently too distorted. If he started his own company, he would be forced to face the realities of the gaming market and produce games that people actually want to play (or risk failing). Only by doing this does he have a chance of recapturing his former success.

  • Guest

    Wasn’t Mega Man/Rock Man supposed to be an Astro Boy/Testuwon Atom game originally anyway?

  • Guest

    He’s not joining any company. He’s going to start his own development company and freelance from publisher to publisher including Capcom.

    • Confused-chan

      Capcom already turned down an offer from him to work with them on a freelance basis.

  • Aiddon

    at this point, I don’t care. I also can’t blame CAPCOM for telling him to bug off as he’s generally been a dick for way too long.

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