PlatinumGames Writer On What’s “Wrong” With Japanese Games

By Ishaan . June 28, 2012 . 2:30pm

This afternoon, PlatinumGames writer and International Coordinator, Jean Kellams, posted his thoughts via Twitter on the state of Japanese games and why they’re perceived the way they are. His brief but insightful Twitter essay was in response to a forum discussion about what is “wrong” with games made in Japan, and you can read it below:


The problems with Japanese games aren’t that they are JPN games or that they are Westernized games. The problems with JPN games are simple: Most of them aren’t very good games. People don’t buy those. Most games from anywhere aren’t good. That’s why exceptional means exceptional.


Most Japanese publishers/developers can’t invest money/manpower enough to compete with exceptional Western productions. Risk is too high. It costs money and sweat to make things stand out, but it also raises the risk. Then marketing is crazy expensive after that.


Games today sell on spectacle. Spectacle is also easy to market. However, good ideas lie behind these spectacles. So it makes me mad to see people diss “AAA” games like they are all rote executions on some tired formula. They sell because they are good. They match great production values with great execution on great ideas. They sell on easy to understand themes. Even Western games that don’t get that right fail. Just because you make a “dudebro” shooter doesn’t mean it is a sure thing.


Japanese games can be awesome. They can suck too. It is about picking ideas and themes that you can execute exceptionally on. Then you have to communicate that exceptionalism in a way that people understand that your game is exceptional. You have to do both, and you have to do both at a high level, or you will fail. It is just how the industry goes right now.


Japanese can make a highly Western game, Westerners can make highly Japanese games. These are talented creators on both sides. However, if you screw up executing on the ideas you are supposed to be executing on… You fail. Simple as that.


Where Japanese games need to get better is reducing friction. If we have the best ideas, we need to make sure you don’t have to wonder why. Friction means you need to look at a character and identify with what that character is supposed to represent. Friction means never underestimating the intelligence of your audience. Culturally, Japanese design is about being inclusive. They don’t want anyone left behind, so they will add friction to an experience. Except then you move at the pace of the slowest one in a group. It bogs the experience down for people who already get it.


Just imagine if you had to order McDonald’s like a Japanese game’s option menu. It would be horrific if you had ever been to a McD’s before. Can I take your order. Hamburger. Hamburger is a piece of meat, two buns, ketchup and mustard. Are you sure you want a hamburger? Yes. That is friction. Western games stop when the user says hamburger. They assume that user intent is initially correct. JPN games should too.


Friction for the sake of completeness is one of the things that makes it difficult for JPN developers to make good multiplayer, I think. Other place have friction. Culturally, I think our touch stones for classic character designs introduces a lot of friction into a narrative. It takes time for a Westerner to parse the boy hero archetype from Japanese design versus the young adult Superhero in Western design. Too often, Japanese design assumes you will “get it” regarding characters and doesn’t establish them. But the touchstones are different.


We can pull off that boy hero successfully, but we have to execute perfectly on the premise behind the character and communicate it. Another place where Japanese games tend to introduce friction is in narrative exposition. So many “bad story” complaints come from this.


By the way – Nintendo games are so awesome and so successful because they are some of the most friction free games in the world.


PlatinumGames currently have two publicly announced games in the works—Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance for Konami and Project P-100 for Nintendo.


Note: Kellams’ essay slightly edited for spelling errors.

Read more stories about & & on Siliconera.

  • Jungo

    Hmm. That’s certainly an interesting perspective. Is it a cultural thing, or is it just something that’s systemic in the prominent Japanese developers? Is this more visible in the big Japanese companies, the indie developers, or what?

  • MrSirFeatherFang

    Nintendo games are awesome. Skyward Sword was great and I just got all the green stars in Super Mario Galaxy 2 ^_^
    Though sometimes a hamburger may not be what it seems to be…
    Anyways, I tend to not bother with this complicated stuff anymore. If I like the game that’s that… it’s just got to be playable and somehow enjoyable/challenging.
    EDIT: wait a minute maybe I read this thing way too fast… need to reread it…

    • Ironically, Skyward Sword is guilty of the exact sort of overbearing player-guidance that Kellams mentions in his essay. ;D

      • Tom_Phoenix

        Unsuprisingly, it’s also one of the worst-selling entries in the series.

        Honestly, the Legend of Zelda series has been on a downturn for a while now, that being one of the reasons.

        • Testsubject909

          A friend of mine has an interesting complaint about the game.

          The font, at times has this glow effect to it, on his screen and because he wears glasses, it actually impedes his experience and he feels that the glowy text is overcompensation in an attempt to make a situation feel more magical, though ultimately failing to him because it increases the difficulty for him to clearly read what’s going on.

          An effect of trying too hard, so I was told.

        • Yeah, Zelda has been having trouble connecting with its audience for some time now. Unfortunate as it is, I feel as though a lot of Zelda’s current problems come from Miyamoto’s tutelage, which has stuck with that team throughout the years and refuses to wear off. Three things come out of this:

          1. The Zelda games are very “gamey”. That’s great, but the problem is that this gamey-ness often comes at the cost of an interesting world and story. I actually recently played Xenoblade and Skyward Sword back-to-back, and the contrast between the two was shocking. Xenoblade makes it look like constructing an interesting world is the most effortless thing to do. Skyward Sword makes it look like it’s impossible.

          2. The other problem with Zelda, I feel, is that it’s a little too simplistic sometimes, and refuses to grow up. I’m not sure who Zelda’s audience consists of anymore. Is it little kids? Even if it is, when I was a kid, I enjoyed Batman: The Animated Series precisely because it treated me like I had enough sense to understand and appreciate it. Is the audience primarily Zelda fans that have stuck with the series for years? If so, then we’re older now, and expect a little more nuance in our games and characters.

          3. The “just enough” attitude. I haven’t felt like any Zelda game in the last six years has spoiled me. Again, this is in contrast to other Nintendo games like Mario Galaxy and Xenoblade and Metroid, where you truly feel like the developers went well beyond the call of duty to create something special. In the case of Zelda, it feels like they go, “OK, this should be enough to keep them happy. There’s no need for more.”

      • Testsubject909

        Overbearing player guidance is something relatively common though with all sorts of games, western or eastern.

        I think what he meant to talk about was conveyance rather then friction. Friction in itself doesn’t determine a good or bad experience in itself, just one that gets delayed. Conveyance though can determine whether or not the player can actually play the game, and thus get into the game.

        Then it’s all about how the game attempts to convey it’s intent, controls and pacing to it’s player, from there we then meet this problem of friction that he talks about… Though that also might not be what he’s actually aiming at.

        • I’d have to disagree. Overbearing player guidance on the level of Skyward Sword exists in very few games, and I can say this with confidence. That game is on a whole different level than, say, scripted events or linear level design. 

          At least those games make an attempt to give you instructions as you play. Skyward Sword has a character pop up and lecture you for half a minute with unskippable dialogue, and it does so frequently.

          The friction Kellams talks about is present as well. Dialogue is uninteresting and doesn’t aim to entertain. Rather, it aims to “include” and, as a result, ends up catering to the lowest common denominator. One that I’m not entirely certain even exists when it comes to Zelda’s audience.

  • Luna Kazemaru

    Whats up with everyone trying to take shots at Japanese game now days?

    • Paradox me

      Japan went from essentially driving the console industry just six years ago to struggling to remain relevant. Sure, some are taking “shots”, but many others have simply acknowledged this and are attempting to pinpoint the cause.

    • Revorse

      I dunno. I just chalk it up to gaming being more “exposed.” With more people comes more opinions. And not everyone exactly likes the direction of Japanese Developers. And like most things, gaming is an industry. It’s best to do what sells.

    • No one is taking a “shot” at anything. 

      This is a Japanese game dev, talking about the problems in Japanese games, and how they can be fixed to make the Japanese game industry better than it currently is.

      • badmoogle

        He may work in a Japanese studio but he is not Japanese.

        • bad syntax on my part: I meant “developer” for “Japanese games”, not that he was Japanese himself

  • malek86

    This was quite an interesting read, and a pretty valid theory as well.

    It’s also good to see that they aren’t just jumping on the AAA hate bandwagon, and rather they are offering a different take on the matter. I think people today seem to have an irrational hate for everything that has a big name behind it. And for what? Repetition? But most niche games are iterative repetitions too.

  • Okay, first, I love you, PlatinumGames.

    Second, this is just a strange trend I’ve noticed that’s mainly relegated to JRPGs, but the friction Jean mentioned makes its way into nearly every dialogue exchange, grinding both game and story progression to a halt (and seasoned gamers to mash through the text furiously). Here’s an example:

    Supporting Character: “We must go to the Lost Woods!”
    Hero: “The Lost Woods?”
    Supporting Character: “Yes, the woods outside of our hometown we’ve lived in forever and ever!”
    Hero: “Oh, the woods to the north of our town!”
    Supporting Character: “Yes. There we need to gather Moss.”
    Hero: “What’s Moss?”
    Supporting Character: “A thing that we need to gather.”
    Hero: “I see. So we get Moss from the Lost Woods?”
    Supporting Character: “…Yes.”

    Just let us play and figure it out. It makes the characters sound completely inept and separated from the world they supposedly live in!

    • DanteJones

      I didn’t realize how many different characters from games I’ve played fit into that example you posted until I read it. 

      EDIT: Whoops, hit reply too soon. :Ua

      I agree with you. Having direction set up in a game for players is nice and all, but it should be kept out of scenes between characters and in some sort of log or journal (sticking with the RPG example) that you can check on your own accord instead of the game shoving it into your face every step of the way.

    • tr1gun1212

      Though those may indeed be the words they used, it is not necessarily what they meant. 

      Supporting Character: “We must go to the Lost Woods [the proper name for this place which may be using kanji that our main character is slightly unfamiliar with]!”
      Hero: “The Lost Woods? (Where do you mean, exactly? Why do we need to do there? Why are you saying we need to go there right now?)”
      Supporting character: “The woods that is north of our town – that specific spot that we know.” 
      Hero: “Ah, now I know of the specific woods that you are talking about, and remember certain things about it.”
      Supporting Character: “Yes. We need to gather Moss [specific kind of moss, using an unfamiliar kanji]”
      Hero: “(What is that? What is so special about that moss? Could you explain what we are going to do with it? What makes you say we need to gather it right now?)”
      Supporting Character: “A thing we need to gather (Once we gather it, you will learn what we need to do with and why we gathered it, but first we must gather it).”
      Hero: “I see. So we get the Moss from the Lost Woods? (I want to make sure I understand the plan and that we are in agreement. Is this the course of action  that you are proposing? Maybe you could expound upon some specifics?)
      “Supporting Character: “…Yes. (Yeah, now you have the idea – I really think this is what we should do, and I will tell you more about it as we go along.)”

      Depending on the circumstances, although they used the words they did, this is the actual conversation they were having. This may not be for every situation, and I can see where people would just look at the words presented and think everyone is an idiot, but there is more often than not more of a conversation going on than is just contained in the words.

      •  Oops. I hit “Like” by mistake. Anyway.

        “this is the actual conversation they were having.”
        Really? Who, the two fake characters I just made up in a few seconds? I’m glad you know exactly what they’re talking about and not me, the one who wrote it!

        It’s a satirical example; besides, the subtext you insist is present in this fake dialogue is stuff that can be presented in different scenes or through visual cues. Reading too deep into stuff is just as bad as skipping through it and then getting confused about what to do!

        Re-reading this, I sound upset. Not the case. Just wondering why you think you know everything about something that doesn’t even exist!

        • tr1gun1212

          If you are using an example to illustrate something, so can I. The context is a dialogue in a JRPG, therefore it is written in Japanese and was translated into English in your example. Certain things happen when this is done, and my example shows the kind of information loss that can happen.

          Whether it could be presented a different way is entirely separate to whether the characters themselves are thinking these things as they talk with one another. The characters, in-story, are having these kind of thoughts whether we as readers are given access to them or not. We must then try our best to infer what they must be thinking as they say different things – not just reading  what they said and leaving it there. 

          • Fair enough. If it helps you to enjoy a game on a deeper level, more power to you.

            I’ve got my own beliefs and a mountain of personal experience, but I can totally dig what you’re saying, even if I disagree.

  • Oh my goodness… this man actually GETS IT. That’s precisely what’s going on in the Japanese game industry.
    I don’t have ANYTHING to add or reflect unto that. Did I just read an essay from the smartest game developer in Japan?!

  • Mmmm…and what about ANIME-MANGA-OTAKU games?

    are games bad too?

    • Hating Ass Nigga


    • pothier.adrien

       Mostly, but not always.

  • SirRichard

    That was certainly one of the most interesting takes on the subject that I’ve heard, and the man nails a lot of points dead-on. The cultural ones also provide a good insight into some of the design process on a, I suppose, subconscious level. Plus, it’s always good to see someone point out that AAA games earn their successes for a reason.

    Honestly, this essay should probably just be linked every single time “East vs West” comes up, or “Mainstream vs Niche” or what have you. It just gets so many points right.

    • Solomon_Kano

      I know I’m linking to this in the future. No point in drawing out those conversations when he’s summed it up concisely.

  • Domii

    This was the best gaming related article I’ve read in a long long time. Thanks Ishaan and the siliconera team for providing us with this P* essay. Now with that being said, I agree 100% with his assessment, but I will like to add that Japanese devs have to put a hold on the usual character design and premise, and focus on something more universal like what From Soft did with their Souls series in order to achieve universal success.

  • Testsubject909

    Trust me though.

    A lot, a LOT of successful western games has that friction that he speaks of. That friction coming from moving at the speed of the slowest one in the lot or having one’s intelligence insulted by a lot of handholding. And they still sell rather very well.

    There’s just so many variables, focusing on only one is not going to be enough but considering what he did was immediate, as a response to a specific post or repeated complaint and on twitter, limiting him further, well… It’s just sort of obvious that it’d just be a bit too much to get into all of it.

  • Arrei

    Hold on, the “friction” point seems to go all over the place without actually identifying an actual problem. The example given of the hamburger suggests that good games don’t handhold the player with tutorials and explanations, but countless games good and bad, east or west, do have simplistic tutorials or tutorial stages, and I can’t think of many games that bog down the option menu with endless confirmation windows.

    Then he moves on to characters, and… isn’t what he calls “friction” there just not developing a character properly? For example, not establishing a character well means you didn’t develop their backstory enough or you just did it poorly by making their motivations unrealistic or cheesy.

    What’s the actual meaning of the “friction” he’s talking about, because it seems more like he’s using it as a blanket term that can just be applied to any sort of problem.

  • solbalmung

    I’ll take it then that Western FPS games are ALL awesome right?
    Proof CoD (X entries and always succesful)….

  • Tom_Phoenix

    Waw….I am absolutely in shock and awe that someone actually gets it.

  • tr1gun1212

    If a game is delivered in a way that anyone can understand it and play through it, wouldn’t that make it frictionless – the opposite of what he is saying here? A point of friction would be slowing down through this smooth sailing due to lack of direction or understanding of what to do.

    Maybe that is just semantics.

    However, with statements like “Friction means you need to look at a character and identify with what that character is supposed to represent,” I completely lose all concept of what he is even trying to say.

    If someone looks at a character and immediately knows what this character represents, surely this would be frictionless, right? Not necessarily good or interesting story-telling, but surely would minimize sticking points for the audience even if it is babying them.

    If the opposite is true, and someone looks at a character and is initially unsure of what that character represents, that leaves room for interest and discovery even if it makes it more difficult for someone that does not pay attention to know what that character is.

    I am not sure which he is advocating, but I find the vast majority of Japanese games to fall into the first category – characters far too easily defined by outward physical traits which leaves them mostly one dimensional. 
    Not all characters, surely, but many. 

    Most importantly:
    “Too often, Japanese design assumes you will “get it” regarding characters and doesn’t establish them.” He says this, but at the same time complains about the establishing of characteristics of a hamburger. It can’t be had both ways.

  • I believe the biggest problem is that it’s trendy to rant down and talk bad about Japanese games in general, specially JRPG’s. This I see as the absolute biggest problem, but obviously not the only problem at all as there is no single cause.

    Good example is the rant that Jrpg’s never change and the #1 factor hate from the west, but then again the most popular title in the west… COD, well it have the same engine as 2005 and using the same game ideas that’s over 20 years old and almost nothing changed here either, basically just hypocrites in this arguments. But I just took it up to explain my first point.

    Another big problem is that the west hate ‘Cute’ while Japan Cute is the norm. Not gonna go into more into that but it’s also a mayor big factor, sure not all Japanese games are ‘cute’ but most are.

    But anyway no game is perfect, not western, not Japanese specially not AAA titles either. Sure Japanese games in general have fallen behind, specially in the graphic departments, but in all other categories, I would say they are as even as the rest. PS there is a LOT more Japanese games then JRPG’s but most do fail to see that.

    Also true not many FPS’s is made in Japan, this might also be one of the core issisues as today it seems everyone want to just play FPS?

    • solbalmung

      Yep, Western players like huge bulky testosterone beared players to identify themselves too. How can you except them to like or even play games with cute sometime artistic values (Ookami, Vanillaware games) that does not have guns, muscle etc..
      Unfortunately FPS are easier to play and less “boring”  (anything that require a bit of brain, reading is boring) than the JRPG counterparts.
      About the friction mentioned in the article, in Western FPS games of course its gonna be non existent, it’s not that hard to aim and fire is it?
      As for JRPG, imagine one without a tutorial (none of the in depth system gameplay facets explained) and no direction whatsoever to advance through the story. Believe me its gonna be more like a chore than a regular game.

  • pinta_177

    I disagree with this article, acording to this guy, they should reduce the so called “friction”, wich would result in a more universal design, all to satisfy the outside market, and that is exactly what is wrong with japanese developers this days. if what this guy says is true then games like the “tales of” series should abandon their “anime-like” style and focus on more “universally accepted” designs.  in my opinion, japan should focus on delivering unique stories with relatable characters, set in rich and alive worlds, that is what japan do best.

  • Suicunesol

    His thoughts have some validity, but I don’t agree with all of them.

    When am I going to see an article from a Japanese developer on what’s wrong with Western games?

    EDIT: Eh… we probably wouldn’t be able to read it anyway since it would be written in Japanese. :P

    • 30sGamer

      When the Asian and F2P market takes over all this AAA dudebro stuff in a few years.  Then we’ll be seeing the “what went wrong with Western games” type articles.  Eastern development (not Japanese necessarily, but Korean/ Chinese) and business models are light years ahead of Western studios – they’ve been playing the fist-pump AAA arms race for so many years they’ve been blind to what is happening overseas.

      Projected to be worth between 40-50 billion by 2014 (Asian gaming market). Its the fastest growing segment in the world. There have been plenty of articles with similar suppositions appearing around the web lately too.

      Edit: Yeah, I pulled the second link :P There was another article I can sub in about the actual results of 2011, which ended higher than projected. But in any event its on the rise. Its more China then Korea, but Korean teams have been coming out with some really fresh ideas and tech lately. Japan can definitely ride that wave too. Honestly, I think we’re in for a resurgence of JRPGs and never before attempted virtual worlds. Can’t wait for the decade of the shooter to end.

      • Suicunesol

        The second link talks about casino gambling gaming rather than video gaming. Entirely different. :P

        The first link brings up interesting points, though. There are a lot of Korean MMOs indeed. That doesn’t mean Korean games are going to take over the world, though. It’s kind of niche outside of Korea…

  • Gamestop created the preorder business, they heightened the used game selling, they helped usher in the multiplayer/online code unlocks for new games. I feel like gamestop drove the market into what it is now.

    I don’t even feel bad if gamestop goes under or their market reduces. Gamestops  used prices are absurd compared to ebay, amazon, and the like. Japan is only a fraction of the issue. Most Japanese games get published from smaller companies and receive little marketing.

    There’s too many things in this industry to account for. The industry as a whole needs an injection shot and that may lie in digital distribution in the future. The games may be small and quirky now, but god wouldn’t it be amazing for a game to be expansive and quirky?

    I think the future is a little on the brighter side. 

    • Luna Kazemaru

      The preorder business has been around before Gamestop even hopped on that bandwagon and I’m pretty sure multilayer became the thing due to the rise of the internet and xbox live and unlock codes where ideals by the devs themselves they use gamestop mostly because gamestop is well known by gamers so yeah uhh no.

  • pothier.adrien

    Anyway, NIS, Atlus and ArcSys continue to make awesome games, and that’s all that matters to me =)

    • João Madalena

       You forgot Namco Tales Studio, the Tales series still makes awesome games.

    • Homero Alejandro Santiago Ruiz

      Reply, and also Namco Bandai, games like  Tales games or Gundam One ( EX Vs was good)

  • Arrei

    I would further like to mention that this suggests that hit western games don’t have these problems – but do they really?

    Take one of the biggest RPG hits we’ve had in the last year, Skyrim. Amazing game in many respects. But can we say this game executed characters perfectly when the Blades do an absurd 180 on their promise to serve you because they hate dragons? When the clever leader of the Dark Brotherhood makes a downright boneheaded deal with the enemy no matter how loyal the player is? When you are allowed to waltz right into the enemy city of Solitude/Windhelm no matter how high your standing in the civil war armies is?

    Can we say this game introduced you to the game without friction when, after introducing the player to the basics through a superbly executed, high action dragon attack serving as a tutorial at Helgen, the rest of the game’s tutorials are presented through sudden pop-up windows interrupting things in the middle of the screen, such as the first time you are brought to low health/stamina/magicka?

    Is it that Japanese games are bogged down by these, or is it that people love to jump on every minute detail and complain about it when it comes from a Japanese game, while they are fully willing to ignore the same things in a western game, to the extent that they’re making up problems that aren’t problems at all?

    • solbalmung

      I probably think it’s the latter (about your last paragraph).

  • Solomon_Kano

    I fully agree. It’s a pity that a lot of people will look past his major points to try and defend Japanese games as if he’s simply bashing them. Constructive criticism from someone with a good view of it is exactly what a lot of Japanese devs need to hear.

    He’s not wrong. You may not like what he’s saying, maybe not how he said it, but he’s not wrong.

    • Luna Kazemaru

       His comments bring some issues to light to bad the issue is gaming in general and not Just Japanese gaming which.

      • Solomon_Kano

        Agreed. These are issues that certainly go beyond Japanese gaming.

    • Testsubject909

      He’s not wrong but I think he conveyed an idea in a bit of an off manner.

      It’s more conveyance and less friction. We’ve got tons of friction in modern day games but it doesn’t prevent them from being blockbuster sales.

      What we do have is excellent conveyance… Sometimes very annoying conveyance that treats us like we’re all idiots, but conveyance nonetheless that gets the job done.

      • I wouldn’t call it “excellent” conveyance if it treats us like idiots. If we were talking about something like airline guidelines in case of an emergency fire, sure, make sure you spell it out for everyone. But this is an entertainment medium. The goal is to entertain people, not to bore them.

        • Testsubject909

          Hmm… Yeah, excellent was a poorly chosen word, actually I was wondering about it right around the time I pressed post.

          Adequate seems more appropriate, or functional. Still, I think, for today’s mainstream standards, so long as the conveyed actions, missions or whatnot involves some form of active presence, most will drone it out. I’m not saying it excuses just the bare bone form of conveyance mind you…

          On another note, getting hard to think, two nieces running rampant around the house.

  • Hector Yujuico Rabie

    Bioware > Square Enix……  Dragon Age/Mass Effect (Series) > Final Fantasy 12 and Up

    • Testsubject909

      I’d have a bone to pick with you on the matter of Dragon Age 2 and on the finale of ME3, but aside from that… Yeah, if you’re going for the more recent FFs, I’ve not much to say.

    • LynxAmali

      Nude Maker >  Bioware > Square Enix, IMO.

      Seriously. No game has come close to my love of Infinite Space’s story.
      Not to mention how Terror of the Stratus had amazing gameplay and actually was very tactical in how you spent your time.

      Steel Battalion.

      • João Madalena

         Atlus FTW, they are the ones still releasing some quality JRPGs

  • Yeah I’m not sure I’m understanding his concept of “friction” because his two examples seem inconsistent with each other… 

  • Most Japanese developers usually makes low-budget 2D JRPGs (not to be mistaking as games that pay homage to the retro classics) with bad generic anime character designs. Japanese games that does put some time into making a game might be too long and become long-winded, something that held back FFXIII.

    Western developers on the other hand make big budget 3D action games but their problem is that they are recycling these mechanics over and over again whether they’re sequels, movie tie-ins or just generic rip-offs. Also, everything is either grey or brown and bald.

    Both sides are in trouble and we blame their developers, for time-constraints, lack of structure and executive meddling, which is why we either get bald white males with guns or underage moe girls ready (or not) to take it up!

    Essentially we can blame executives because have no respect for developers and yet expect too much from them, give too little to work with and even less time to do so. Also blame the otaku and bro-gamers for wanting the same thing over and over.

  • Nicolas Vasquez

    i do agree with the man though not sure if i get the concept of friction completely, other thing japanese developers stop doing was improving their games, look at tenchu/shinobido, a games that plays the same since the psx era, with innovation it should had become something the lines of the batman arkham games, and yeah nintendo is great and all but the same i said could apply to the latest 2D mario bros titles wich look and feel the same, when in the past mario games had the same great gameplay but different feel and aesthetics, and is really sad to see how rayman seems more fun and has a better use of the wii U than nintendo itself.

  • Pertaining to his first paragraph, I’m just not a big fan of the logic that “if your game is good it will sell”.  I’ve seen too many great games gen in and gen out that fail at penetrating the market, because it just doesn’t catch on.  Sometimes their is a logical reason for it, but most of the time that is not the case.  For whatever reason some promising titles just don’t catch fire.

    As it pertains to his second paragraph, I hope people take note of the last sentence that states:

    “Then marketing is crazy expensive after that.”

    And realize that every game cannot (especially niche titles) cannot have the massive marketing campaign your clamoring for.  Although the thought of purchasing specially marked cans of Mountain Dew with your favorite Valkyria Chronicles character gracing each aluminum container does make me chuckle (If only we lived in a world where something like that would happen).

    As for the supposed “problem” with Japanese games I just feel that a lot of games today just lack global appeal. In the nineties their were an array of games that originated from Japan, that had appeal which most westerners can develop a liking to.

    The concepts and art direction of most games that came out in that era of gaming appealed to people beyond the hardcore Otaku demographic, and they seem to do so without even trying.  Which I think is very important IF your looking for mainstream appeal.  At this point in time the artistic trends in Japan just don’t appeal to many who live in the western world.  But at a time I believe a lot of the games, anime, manga, films, etc. did.  And sometime in the future they will again.

    Take time to analyze the concept and art direction of games like Chrono Trigger, Resident Evil, Street Fighter, and Final Fantasy VII.  Now do the same for the likes of Hyper Dimension Neptunia, Tales, Disgaea.  Now mind you I’m not disrespecting the latter, or people who like them, I’m not even sure if the designers of those games even had mass appeal in mind when making those games, but the aesthetics of those games take a more radical direction when it comes to character design, character behavior, and art scheme than the first three titles.

    Their also tends to be some criticism of the gameplay of many Japanese games of today.  That their not up to “modern” standards, and are archaic so to speak.  I disagree with that notion, and actually applaud the game designers who don’t give in to the gamers who believe and desire for every title to contain an abundance of convenience, and for them to be absent of mechanical restrictions, unique control schemes, challenge, multiple menu interfaces, and learning curves.  This in turn may keep franchises such as Monster Hunter, Armored Core, Dragon Quest, among others from ever reaching any major commercial acceptance outside of Japan. 

    But I am more than fine with that, because when you strip all the spices that contribute to the flavor, your chicken never seems to taste as good :)

    On a final note, I think their are still great Japanese games being made, but you have to be more expansive as a gamer, and be more inclined to tackle new franchises, genres, and even platforms.  Too many gamers are hanging on to franchises that are well past their prime.      


  • Göran Isacson

    While I’m not gonna say this is some JRPG-hater, because dude works for Platinum Games and those guys make some PRETTY DARN JAPANESE games, I totally agree with what tr1gun1212 writes in his comment. His comments about friction seems to be about how you shouldn’t assume that everyone is familiar with your cultural tropes, yet you shouldn’t stop and explain things either or move at the “slowest persons pace” because that also creates friction… you can’t have it both ways. Some things are written into your story/character because it’s a cultural thing and you’re familiar with it and presume the rest of your audience is as well, and the story can still sell like gangbusters despite this friction. I don’t really feel like this is a satisfying answer.Neither is “bad games will never sell and good games might”, because that’s pretty much approaching Captain Obvious territory. That marketing is important AND expensive though? That needs to be said more. It’s so goshdarn expensive to make succesful games these days that it’s outright sad.

  • revenent hell

    Well I realy feel bad on the way people make Japanese developers sound bad. I for one cant say ive realy played to many “American Games” I dont like shooters and I find the RPG’s sub par so……I also think people need to take in to consideration fan base as well when compairing why Japanese games dont sell so well in the “west” where the prodominant market is male not that im saying males only enjoy shooters and such but I think that is a fairly high factor involved….Most american males dont want to play games that might in some way make them feel “girly” unnless its a bloodbath or something like special ops or stuff akin to that they wont play it good or not the “manley men dont play that” stigma is still very much alive in regards to gameing here where Japanese men think much differently about games than what “our” fella’s do….But thats my opinion based off of personal expierience with males in my life….

  • Naaah. There’s no way you can compare something like that. I love all the FF games, no exception. Plus i really deslike Mass Effect and Dragon Age. IMO, Square Enix can win from every Bioware game.

  • kool_cid414

    It might just be me but I honestly don’t understand what he’s saying. This may just be me but honestly there are VERY few western games I’ve really enjoyed in the around 19 years of gaming (I’m 21). I recently played two western games, one which I surprisingly enjoyed somewhat (skyrim) and one that appealed to me a little at first due to it’s rpg like system, but became incredibly dull boring and just not fun to play (borderlands). When I was a kid I didn’t care what country or genre a game was/ was from, I just played what was given to me and tried enjoy them. As I grew older I realized I enjoyed things with more story, found out I get really physically ill when playing games in an entirely first person perspective, and I enjoy games where I could laugh, cry, and care about characters in a game. Even in games where a character is supposedly one dimensional I can feel more empathy in these types of characters where not everything is displayed outright, or only appears to have one side. It brought me more into the game where the only time I didn’t feel too much was when I played something where all I could see of myself was a hand holding a gun or not deal with interesting people. Quite honestly, to me, I like most of the Japanese games I play which are rpgs because other than Mario that’s what I like. I try playing games I’ve seen great reviews of and heard are ‘epic’ and I just don’t feel the same. I don’t expect people to share my opinion I just think that either I must be blind to the supposed badness of these games and/or maybe we just need to try to enjoy games more and not nickpick to the point where games become not fun. In the end if a game is fun I don’t care if I’m being told something I know because I realize someone may not and also I understand if something I don’t find obvious is obvious I don’t feel bad especially when if it is taken for granted and I fall behind and become confused and unable to enjoy the game.

     In short, I disagree.

  • LynxAmali

     -Most of them aren’t very good games. People don’t buy those. Most games
    from anywhere aren’t good. That’s why exceptional means exceptional.

    You lost me. So instead, you are saying constant rehashes of the same game with only minor differences and a different storyline is a good game?

    Sorry. I can’t agree with this. Some points are good but others like this one, are terrible.

    • Ziko577

       Try telling that to Cap, no Crapcom with their Street Fighter and Marvel vs. Capcom rerereleases every year. I mean to date they, Square-Enix, Nihon Falcom, and others do it quite frequently. Count how many similar version of Ys and Street Fighter are there. You’ll be shocked and amused at the same time. I counted at least 5 rereleases of Ys I & II for various systems. Only difference with them was graphics and that’s it.

  • Syltique

    I’m fine with people criticizing games in specific ways and debating strengths and weaknesses, but I find that all too often, Japanese games only get highlighted for things they supposedly do wrong, while they never ever get praised for the huge amount of things they do right.  In the Ninja Gaiden 3 article I just read, Hiyashi was worried they were falling behind.  Behind what?  Ninja Gaiden is the industry leader for action games, along with Bayonetta.  I just don’t get how they didn’t seem to know that.

    I think Kellams generalizes way too much.  In more than a few cases, the opposite of what he/she’s saying is true.There are lots of Japanese narratives with “friction.”  But then let’s look at FFXIII.  The game starts right off the bat in the middle of an intense event.  None of the characters ever talk to each other in a way where they explain things for the audience.  They all know what l’cie and fal’cie are.  If you want to get caught up with them, check the datalog or just pay attention because the story is moving right along.  Yet, I can’t count how many comments I read from people saying that they finished the game and don’t even know what these words mean.  It sounds like people do want you to sit and explain things to them like they’re idiots, sometimes.  

    Or look at Mass Effect 3’s ending.  Everyone freaked out because it didn’t explain things well enough (and it was just generally extremely poorly written).  So look at the new ending.  It’s friction to the max.  They just have long monologues with this random guy explaining so literally that it’s almost parody, that you choices mattered.  It’s painful to even listen to.  But supposedly this new extended cut ending is an improvement.Or look at Skyrim, where any random NPC will sit and give you a lecture on the history of anything from culture to weather, to politics, and explain every bit of it like you’re an alien from another planet.  In XIII they talk to each other as if the characters all already know that stuff, which is more realistic, and has less friction.What I’m trying to say is that I just don’t buy the argument that any of these problems are unique to either side of the ocean.  

    I just finished watching Battlestar Galactica again, (SPOILERS AHEAD) the story about a race of religious robot clone angels who find earth because of a Bob Dylan song, so I just don’t think that there are any major distinguishing differences between the region’s storytelling styles.  

    While Japanese games may need to explore some different character and dialogue styles, they still excel in many ways that they don’t seem to even realize.  Gameplay, art, animation, creativity, originality, innovation.  Yes, Uncharted looks intimidating and impressive, but it’s a cover based shooter with extremely on rails style gameplay.  Yes Skyrim is big and wide open, but the characters animate so badly that it’s almost laughable.  

    Sometimes I feel like only SQEX and Capcom realize they do some things better than the west.  Dragon’s Dogma could have sold better, but they didn’t abandon the project and talk endlessly about how flawed they are as designers, and how much they need to copy Skyrim more.  No.  I think they know that they are masters of action gameplay, and animation, and that it’s worth the investment to keep going.  They’re going to make a better game than the west next time.  Dark Souls and Dragon’s Dogma already surpassed Skyrim in everything but raw land mass available in the game.

    Japan is learning.  They’re not behind anymore.  I think the biggest obstacle in their way is prejudice, and extremely unfair media coverage on mainstream gaming sites – to the point where they literally look bought and paid for.  Count how many articles Kotaku ran about Mass Effect 3’s ending, and the Skyrim DLC.  It’s literalyl a paid advertisement.  Compare that to the coverage they ran of Dragon’s Dogma. 

    That is the problem.

  • doctorpope181

    Nice job dickriding Nintendo .. they’re just soo awesome & successful!!1!

    • Luna Kazemaru

       uncalled for comment is uncalled for watch your language.

    • Please don’t do this again.

    •  They are though? They’re literally a unstoppable force at this point with 0 chance of failing even if they totally bomb for years in a row.

      You kinda defeated yourself there. Also lol cool kingdom hearts avatar.

  • ZEROthefirst

    He could’ve just made his rant simple and said Japanese games aren’t good to me because it’s not like the majority of US games, being one minded FPS’.

    •  I see you wanted it simple so you could get the point…

      • ZEROthefirst

        Bingo you hit the million dollar question on the head! How should I reward you dear sir?

        • doctorpope181

          Thanks lol

    • Vampiric

       his point is games from both regions can stink but they can both be great

  • Herok♞

    Nothing is wrong with JP games and nothing is wrong with western games they all have charms that appeal to their audience and might not to anyone else. Far to many people have a problem with this logic for no good reason.

    • malek86

      As a matter of fact, nothing is “wrong” with either genre, despite what fanboys of either faction try to have us believe.

      But it’s true that japanese games have been selling less lately (or at least, they are selling the same while the market has grown, so their share has decreased). That is really the only concern.

      If in the future western games will start selling less, someone will probably start talking about the “problem” with western games. For now though, the issue is the one which we see.

  • Mildra

    This attitude of east vs. west is starting to get irritating. 

    • LynxAmali


      Why can’t people just accept both and move on? They have different intended audiences and different styles to them.

      Hell, I like both sides of development.
      I like the multiplayer aspect of western developed games but I love the single player experience of eastern games.

    • konsama

      Agreed, especially when both sides are terrible. Since they have nothing good to offer, they attack the other side so its one doesn’t look that bad.


         They sound like Democrats and Republicans.

      • Oliver

        How do you mean (and this article’s author mean) that games from both the East and West suck? You’re saying there are not any good games out? Are you looking at all possible avenues, such as the indie PC game industry and others?

    • Vampiric

       He isnt east vs west

      hes east and west both suck

  • konsama

    I highly disagree with this, especially considering he bash the Japanese industry while the American one isn’t any better.

    The thing that bugs me the most is that friction thing. At least from my point, i can’t get identified with ANY new character because they’re cartoon-ish characters, and that comes from either occidental and japanese games, i can’t get identified with a character that will be screaming for more than half game, or is angry all the time, or that reacts predictably for more than half the game, that will always react as a perv on its “harem” of characters, that always is happy, etc. And I won’t get identified with a character just because i’m playing it in first person all the time.

    It’s story development and character what could make me get identified with a character, and that’s the thing that lacks now. There’s no charm on the characters, and by charm i mean a real chemistry with the characters other than “armor’s cool” or T&A, i mean like characters that didn’t need super hi-res textures to show their feelings and all, but really good written stories.

    And only certain people would get bugged or offended at having a description in what a hamburger is, i would find it hilarious, it’s also part of the context of the game, there’s obviously not gonna be necessary on an action game, while an RPG can take that liberty. And that’s another point, just like every kind of entertainment, WE CAN’T GENERALIZE on all videogames, by now there are tons of genres, that can go on different kinds like music does. There’s not only the RPG genre, inside of that really shallow type are other many.

    Just remember you can’t mix apples with tomatoes, but they can get rotten by their own.

    A thing i have to say is the video games are stalling, by now the lack of originality is seriously bad, when a new game finally makes a good new formula everyone instead of trying to make something to the level with their own style, they will copy the new one. If not remember when every game out suddenly was a “sandbox”, or just now there are 2 new “Uncharteds” coming up, or the many Monster hunter-ish games that didn’t go out of Japan.

    Or when a lot of games have the same characters just with different face and sometimes only outfit, be it the marine(this one covers A LOT of different kinds), the good-for-nothing shoujo, the good-for-nothing shounen, the bald thin selfish-at-start guy, the cool guy with only one-liners through all the game, etc. And it’s not just that, but the development tend to even go the same steps or not at all. 

     And i can take a good idea what games “should” represent with the turn MGSR took, until now the main part of MGS was to NOT kill any enemy if possible, all games even rewarded you for not doing it. Yet with this one is even advertised with the whole other image. I remember even Hideo Kojima had said at start when the game was just showed he would try to make the game to reward you for not killing, but i doubt that was passed on to Revengeance or whatever is written.

    •  Yes he’s totally bashing the Japanese side even though he said the same can be said about the American side (people sure like to skip those important bits when reading :l)  Also even if in MGS it was about being stealth and try to not kill people, people still killed (especially with MGS4 where u can go Guns crazy) and now with Rising which is a completely different game…even before

      • konsama

        Yes i read it, and though he said it, he only kept bashing the japanese side.

        And about MGS, it’s not the same thing as what you can or could do as to how they are showing you the game. Just because you can steal and kill people like crazy in GTA doesn’t mean you should or would be any good. At long term it can be better to avoid it, just like it was better to avoid killing in most MGS that even rewarded you for it.

      • KuroiKen

        Well, MGS actually got worse after second game, and the best game is still the original Metal Gear Solid on PS1.

  • .

    Wow; fans of JRPGs sure are quick to get defensive. Western developers are now able to sink TONS of money into game projects that a majority of Japanese developers are leery about. They are able to sell sex and violence or just tons of violence at a much better production value than the Japanese.

    Another thing is that ‘greatness haunts the great.’ There’s such a big shadow to overcome for Square’s success of FF7 that everything they’ve done in people’s minds could never compare.

    I used to like JRPGs, but they did reuse many tropes over time that just wore me out. Western RPGs can get away with it because of violence and/or sex; despite being weary tropes its something human minds can immediately grasp and enjoy…not like say, a dream sequence event that happens in an INN if you meet a certain character and learn more about their past or any other convoluted JRPG thing (this is nice, but not immediately gratifying).

    Currently I favor From Software’s Souls series, Atlus’ Persona series, NIS’s Disgaea series, and Bioware’s ME and Dragonage series.

    JRPGs aren’t successful in the west because their not giving what westerner’s want. Very simple. Even if Western studios don’t have everything right the high production values and sweet violence will still sell much better.

    • Vampiric

       your wrong

      • Suicunesol

        Calm down and elaborate. :P He’ll disregard you if you don’t present a valid argument. :)

        And that’s “you’re”. Not “your”.

        • Vampiric

           I am as calm as I can be without being  a sleep

      • -_-x

    • Arrei

      Now, the question is, what is it that westerners, or even gamers in general, want? I’ve watched as reviewers cherry-picked certain aspects to complain about in games, and then turned around and outright ignored the same problems present in other games. Some games are criticized for building upon the same formula that previous entries did, while other, more popular games with more entries in their series that similarly take a tried-and-true base and attach new bells and whistles to it don’t even get it mentioned. Some reviews bring up framerate issues or loading times for some games, and then don’t deduct points for, as an example, things like animation and gameplay bugs in a game as buggy as Skyrim.

      Then you have gems like the Gamespot “review” for Atelier Meruru, in which he spends at least half of the review complaining that the game is cutesy or outright lying about characters and content, and giving scant few lines about the game’s actual qualities. Can you stand behind the idea that JP games are just lagging behind in quality, when there are big-site reviewers who seem less concerned with the actual games and more concerned with just slandering the Japanese image?

      • Ziko577

         That’s what I’m talking about! Why do people concentrate or nitpick on stupid things like that instead of what’s wrong with the games themselves? You my man just said what I’ve been trying to say when conversations like these spring up. God bless you!

      • Eilanzer

        herrr….That specific review on gamespot was made by a freelancer…

        • Arrei

          That freelancer’s review had to have been accepted by Gamespot for them to put it up, no? They accepted a review that barely even touched on the game itself and instead was a miniature essay on how much he doesn’t like anime and cutesy games. A review that scored a game lower than the first game in the trilogy reviewed by the site, when anyone who’s impartial to the series could see large improvements to its mechanics and presentation if nothing else.

          • Eilanzer

            The review system on gamespot is entirely personal, varying from writer to writer. So take the review of them only as a basis, but not as a rule.

            For me Atelier meruru deserve a 6.0…But that´s another story /o/

          • Arrei

            But it isn’t so simple, is it? It is still a review from a big site, and there are many who do not simply take them as a “basis” or a mere opinion in the vast expanses of the internet. Seeing such scores pop up also contributes to the idea that there’s something inferior about Japanese games, despite said reviews being rooted in close-mindedness and outright inaccuracy at times. And these scores also serve to drag down a game’s metascore, such as the aforementioned Gamespot review dragging Meruru’s score down by an entire five points, with a review that barely even talks about the game itself.

      • ArthurCarvalho

        This is not the first time Gamespot does something similar to a Japanese game.
        I remember when I was deciding if it was worth to pick up .hack//G.U., I decided to check a Gamespot review, I almost didn’t buy it, but after reading user reviews I thought I should give it a try. At that time though I think that this Japanese bash-fest didn’t start yet.
        Played the whole trilogy, and loved it.

        Of course, there were more, but there’ve been a long time so I don’t even remember them now.

        Also something that I don’t get it this “reused tropes” and stuff people keep pointing out. I’ve been playing Japanese games since I was a kid, this never bothered me, actually I like them a lot, and feel really weird when they are not present. Though when those “tropes” are badly developed it can be annoying, but most of time they are fine, I’m more comfortable with character traits I already know, and since most of time I can tell their personalities from their appearances, I think it makes it easier to get to know the character. Makes me feel like I’ve know the character for a long time, and this makes me care about those characters. (let’s say, it deepens the bonds between me and the characters)

    • KuroiKen

      Lol, what? Gods, how can anyone say something so stupid.
      “JAPANESE devs don’t give WESTERNERS what WESTERNERS want.”, the stupidest claim I heard in my life. When will westerners understand, that japanese developers aim to make games mostly for their inside market, not the world, meaning they’re aiming at JAPANESE gamers, not western gamers.

    • Tenno Seremel

      >Western developers are now able to sink TONS of money into game projects that a majority of Japanese developers are leery about.

      Sink. That’s a good word you have here. Tons of money does not make a good game just by virtue of being tons of money.

      If current western games are what westerners want I don’t want japanese games to catch it, because for me Wgames suck. They may boast about open world and non-linear gameplay but it the end it is still a linear crap with rails disguised by lights and smoke while also looking and feeling (world, characters, etc.) like crap. No, thank you.


        I agree with you that just throwing money at something does not make a game good. It may motivate people to work harder, but it wouldn’t make a difference if the output if is crap.

    • Freud_Hater

      So you’re saying that what Westerners want his a ton of sex and violence? (Like, say, Lollipop Chainsaw?) That says something pretty sad about us :/

  • Vampiric

    “Most games from anywhere aren’t good”

    So hes insulting everything?

    • Suicunesol

      What he means is that among all video games there has to be a certain percentage that is considered better than the rest, and it just so happens that compared to the number of games that come out everyday, this percentage is very small. Not every game will be or can be good. This applies to other things as well. For instance, most people aren’t rich, but a certain small percentage of people are. Most restaurants aren’t great, but some are. And only a certain percentage of movies can be considered “the best” while the rest must be relegated to be “not the best.” He’s just stating a truth.

      But if you love JRPGS (I do too), I can see why you’re mad. :)

      • Vampiric

         Why must you assume I am mad?

        He isnt insulting jrpgs specifically, or any other genre really…….

        He took shots at everyone which is fair game to me

        • Suicunesol

          Answering “your wrong” to the post above doesn’t help to convince me otherwise. :) But okay.

          I don’t think he’s taking shots at anybody, actually. I think that particular statement (that most games aren’t good) was an obvious truth.

          Walk into your local game store. Doesn’t matter where the games are from. How many of them do you consider “good”? 

          • Vampiric

            He was hating, I didnt want to let it pass. I promise I am not angry.

            He generalized alot

    • Asura

       Most X from anywhere aren’t good.

      This applies to virtually every category in existence.

    • “Sturgeon’s Law”. Look it up.

  • JazzWithAttitude

    The only reason i do not like Japaneses games more than i like westernized ones is because JP has to much sexual apeal, is rare to find JP games that the breasts do not bounce all de time

    • konsama

      but what about occidental cameltoes… For me those were more disgusting…

    •  Exact opposite here, there’s never any bouncy gals out there, only children who are called adults despite their apperance. Body of a 10 year old? Love interest and also 18-20!

      At least girls with uh, larger chests are you know, older then a child.

      ….maaan what a weird tangent to go on

      • KuroiKen

        this is exactly why Dead or Alive games sold – they had larger chests and BREAST PHYSICS.
        Well, I do not care about the chest and me being me, I prefer smaller ones anyways, actually, and younger faces are much cuter, so for me everythng is ok.

  • JazzWithAttitude

    Yes he is wrong

  • seems to me selling a game’s more about knowing your audience than friction, capcom knows fighter fans, atlus knows RPG fans, and they manage to use the knowledge to the mutual advantage of themselves and their consumers.(well, until sfxtk anyway)

    • .

       I agree; Atlus is using their Persona IP very well right now, I really hope for their continued success. Capcom’s over mined some of their IPs, but with Dragon’s Dogma it looks like their willing to risk creating newer IPs and look forward to seeing that as well.

  • darkfox1

    I hope you guys know who egoraptor is. I think one of his vids talk about games who doesn’t give you in game tutorials like Megaman and he goes on from there.

  • People seem to forget that Nintendo is a Japanese company. Who has found the prefect balance of still being Japanese, but has content that everyone can enjoy.
    For a while it seems that the western market has had self esteem issues when it comes to their Japanese counterparts. Now finally that they are having success games and created new creative franchises. They feel they need to stand and yell” See we are better than you!” The problem is the Japanese developer was never holding them down or back. So I don’t understand the resentment coming there way. I also think this issue is overblown due to the sheer amount of western games being made compared to Japanese games. Western companies can produce a new game and then 2 sequels in a matter of 5 to 6 years. Where most Japanese games come out at a pace of 1 game every 3 to 4 years. So if there are 10 western games made with 5 of them being good. It looks better than 5 Japanese games made in the same time with 2 to 3 being good.

    • Vampiric

       thats a bit of a generalized view

      he loves nintendo, but he is insulting both regions

    • Azuku

      I feel like I see more Japanese companies (or at least people that work for them) disparaging Japanese games than I do Western companies/people. Except Phil Fish, but he took five years to develop a Super Paper Mario ripoff, so I think it’s safe to hold his opinion on video game development in low regard.

  • Bakuryukun

    I never did like these East vs. West debates. While I appreciate that Western and Japanese style games can sometimes be very different experiences,  I personally have found much to enjoy in both styles both in the past and nowadays. I just really don’t care where my videogames come from.

  • Vampiric

    Woah this topic exploaded……..

        your like a puppet master, a friendly one.

    I hope people are understanding he isnt east vs west, or west is superior with these statements

    hes saying games from all regions stink, some japanese games are actually good.

    So I am not sure if hes insulting everything but giving the japanese the shred of hope over the other things

  • forweg

    Just another lying, racist prick spouting out more propaganda. No matter what Japanese game developers did, it would be propagandized as “bad” by some Western game “expert” of some sort.

    Make no mistake, the reason Japanese video games are supposedly struggling lies solely at the hands of IGN, Gamestop and the like being in cahoots with the Western game industry and their nationalist, militarist, and racist propaganda.

    • LOL, you funny silly white man

    • @forweg:disqus @gatotsu911:disqus Both of you knock it off.

      • forweg

        Ishaan, I come here to get news on games I’m interested in. Why you feel the need to occasionally run these anti-Japan editorials/interviews is beyond me. You can’t expect to run such inflammatory articles without an impassioned response.

        And yeah, it is one-sided and monotonous. When’s the last time you ran an article suggesting Japanese games are superior to Western ones?

        • “When’s the last time you ran an article suggesting Japanese games are superior to Western ones?”

          Even if there were any pieces like that, a developer trying to claim cultural superiority would be hard to take as serious or credible. That’s not the perspective people should be taking; they should be dissecting and analyzing the fields they’re good at. Like this guy in the article; some of his points may be misinterpreted by some readers, but all I generally see here is just someone who’s presenting his perspective on his field. It may not be complete, but it still has points to think about.

        • If you think this is an “anti-Japan editorial,” then you’re missing the point. This is someone who works in the Japanese industry offering his perspective on how games from his fellow developers could improve. 

          There’s nothing “anti-Japan” about this at all. Western developers talk about how to improve their games all the time. That’s why events like GDC exist. 

          Also, consider this a warning: we don’t take kindly to folks throwing insults around here.

    •  You uh, do realize this guy is one of the biggest and best japanese devs right? I think you’re a moron.

      • KuroiKen

        biggest and best? Oh no, I don’t agree. PlatinumGames ever made only one game that was PLAYABLE at best, because no definitive story, nothing, just pure 10/10 action part, and that is NOT a good game. Yep, thats Bayonetta I’m talking about. Just action and graphics are not nearly enough for me to call a game good, though, westerners MIGHT call it good, yep, since GRAPHICS and button mashing is what most of them like, not all, though.

        • Being a good GAME is not enough for you to consider a game good? Son, if you’re playing games for the story, STOP right now and go pick up a book.

        • Asura

          You thought Bayo had a story even worth mentioning while the rest of PG’s games didn’t? Now THAT’S laughable.

          None of their games had a story worth mentioning.

  • All this talk of “friction” is a bit confusing – as far as game theory terminology is concerned, I’m more familiar with the term as popularized by (the notorious) Tim Rogers, which means something completely different from how it’s used here by Kellams. Did he coin the term himself?

    • Syltique

      Rogers coined the term himself too, so they’re both equally meaningful/meaningless.  He defines how he uses the word in the article, so it’s not a big deal really.

      • It’s not a big deal, I just thought it was odd that two Americans working at Japanese game design studios were using the same word to describe a design concept, but with completely different meanings.

  • IshimaruKaito

    i just…..dont kno wat to say

  • Laharl

    You shouldn’t worry about the game being Japanese or Western, it should just be good.

    Something you think Japan would have learned after re-defining TPS’s with RE4.

  • Jiikae

    I’m the biggest Japanese gaming fan ever, but I can recognize a well developed Western game. And I can safely say that even though most of my favorite games this gen have been Japanese, the Western output overall this gen, has been more deserving of praise than the overall Japanese output. Just being real. And I don’t like most Western games.

    With that said, I prefer the style of Japanese games. Western games may have better production value, and they honestly do a better job at pushing the genre forward. But man, Japanese games have style out of this world, and better stories (overall). They appeal to me more as a person. Western games lack that style and quirkiness, plain and simple. They seem to want to compete with movies more than anything for whatever reason. That’s my main problem with Western games, they seem to be slowly forgetting what makes the gaming medium unique from other mediums and moving away from making games feel like….games. I can’t wait for the day when a major Japanese team and a major Western team truly come together to make something original. It’d be interesting.

    As for the friction thing? I think he was referring more to characters/multiplayer specifically. It’d take forever for me to translate what he meant. But I get what he was saying. It’s weird that he complimented Nintendo for this though, their games have a ridiculous amount of friction (mainly recently) Skyward Sword, Pokemon Black, Smash Bros Brawl come to mind immediately as far as character establishment AND multiplayer go. Either way, Nintendo can get away with it because they began friction-less.

    • .

      Besides Nintendo; would you consider Metal Gear as a franchise that appeals to both sides? It has some of that qurkiness in the form of story and crazy characters…and its quite cinematic. I only enjoyed the first Metal Gear Solid though (which I finished), not so much the others.

      Makes me wonder if a ‘Haloid’ (halo and metroid) game would ever create this ‘magical bridge’ for both fans.

      Its really good to recognize and like both styles of games for what they are and what they appeal to each of us. Its just a win for ourselves as a fan of games.

      • Jiikae

         Yes! Metal Gear is a perfect example actually!

        And a Haloid game? I feel like Other M was a failed attempt at that. But that idea sounds like it’d be VERY interesting if executed correctly.

  • AFatHouseCat

    “It takes time for a Westerner to parse the boy hero archetype from
    Japanese design versus the young adult Superhero in Western design.”

    Struck me as very odd since a great deal of kids have grown up this generation watching anime more than reading super hero comics. I think that sort of thing isn’t East VS West but down to the individual gamer and their demographic and interests.

  • TheDarkEmpress

    I think the guy was on to something when he was talking about the overall quality of games these days…There’s a crapload of shovelware in relation to good titles, the market is generally flooded with garbage. He sort of trailed off with defining the Japanese ideology of what makes a game “good” when he had it right from the beginning: good production values, good budget, good overall basis for the game. I’m sorry but if core elements of a game such as story or production value are awry it truly does ruin the experience, and I’m sorry but $60 is quite a bit of money to be “overlooking flaws and just enjoy the experience”, gaming has advanced so far technologically and culturally but it just seems like the enthusiasm that has once backed the industry has almost dried up, everyone is afraid to take risks, they just want profit, and there’s really not much that can be done, that’s the mindset of the world we live in today; which is why I absolutely love smaller IPs that could give a hoot about profit and develop something unique and exciting. It’s all about soul, too bad the “s” has been replaced with a dollar sign.

  • WonderSteve

    I think FFXIII is the perfect example of the “friction” problem. 

    The “tutorial” of the game was too long. I know too many players gave up on the game before the “tutorial” ends. On the other hand, Resonance of Fate was very well done in my opinion. The game just let me jump into things and enjoy.

    Also sometimes the writer needs to just let the story flow, I don’t need the characters to spell everything out to me. 

    Presentation doesn’t always mean big budget on graphics. Focus on unique art style and music would really help JRPG. Lunar’s music really drawn me into the scene.

    I think he is right about Nintendo games, but I also think it is Nintendo’s biggest weakness (to me at least(. I find it increasingly difficult paying 40(portable)/60(console) for Nintendo games with their frictionless design.

  • Levin_Scorpius

    I really can’t find any complaints about what he’s saying, except with maybe how he words things in some instances, but those can just be easily considered misinterpretation on my part. 

    Also in regards to the sales he didn’t really comment on how cultural differences effect them (they’re really important). Soooooo I’ll attempt to say something on that subject because I am stupid.

    (–NOTE–: I’m not an expert on the subject in anyway, so feel free to make fun of me for anything I say.) 

    [-This part was edited for my ignorance-]For example, Americans (or at least the ones in the states(I’m talking about the average Joe here)) are somewhat apprehensive when it comes to experiencing works that come from foreign countries, more so if their not dubbed in English, mainly because that would outside their effective comfort zone in regards to these types of things. Please note that this definitively not true everywhere in the world, as Asia (probably not the Middle Eastern ones, though) countries are more open to all types of works, domestic or foreign.

    Location is also important, because if a work heavily involves the culture of where it takes place, then people who do not know much about said culture are going to be confused about why ‘X is verbing Z’ or why ‘Y is Y’. Also with the above paragraph, if the location is of a more foreign ground, without a protagonist of a similar ethnicity to the viewer might have a hard time connecting with the work.

    If the work is using a non-realistic style, then the style of the art is going to be important. The Japan would probably latch on to things that are relatively cutesy regardless of it’s supposed origins, while something that has an anime/manga style would probably be rejected overseas because of certain connotations (Japan’s openness to sexual things both… “good” and irredeemably horrible is kinda infamous to a number of people). Places elsewhere would be receptive to a more darker, gritty, and/or realistic, in addition to cartoons that are noticeably standalone in stylization.

    Among many other things that I currently cannot think of because I am terrible at this.

    • SeventhEvening

      The comment about caucasian/american cast not selling well overseas isn’t remotely true, especially when it comes to other media. Asian countries are generally pretty open minded when it comes to media from other countries and aren’t as terrified of subtitles as Americans usually are. In the states, foreign films have a hard time finding an audience because of a fear that they won’t be able to connect with it, or because they are too lazy to read subtitles, but many subtitles films from America and England are very popular in Asia, for example, The Avengers.

      As for video games….well, I live in Korea and not Japan, but western PC games are pretty popular, as well as domestic (read as “Korean”) RPGs. Console titles aren’t terribly popular here, but Japanese and Western titles are roughly equal in popularity. For example, Uncharted was wildly popular, and so was One Piece: Kaizoku Musou. But FPS titles don’t sell quite as well, but it isn’t really due to difference in race as it is difference in play style. 

      • Levin_Scorpius

        Whelp, that’s what I get for assuming things about foreign countries. Thanks for pointing out my ignorance and stupidity on the matter and elaborating on it as well. I’ll edit my previous post in accordance with what you said. 

        edit: Also when your talking about Asian countries being open to foreign stuff, are or are you not including the Middle East countries with them? (Since I imagine that some of them would be… a little less open to some of the things the rest of the reasonable world finds to be okay.)

  • thaKingRocka

    I’ve been having trouble with the Chicken Little cries about Japanese game design. Vanquish was a nigh-perfect game. I absolutely loved it. Lollipop Chainsaw and Shadows of the Damned were both good games with interesting, simple, fun stories and with a few tweaks to the gameplay, I think LC could have been an instant classic. I am still playing Persona 4. I liked Super Mario 3D Land, and I am about to start up Gravity rush because I loved the demo.

    Tastes may have changed, but that doesn’t mean that Japan is not producing good games. I know I play plenty of them and I have a great time with them. I think even NG3 was better than any God of War game, and those guys are now lamenting their failures and trying to make amends with a modified version. All I can do is shrug my shoulders, and wonder why those complaining have never thought to look inward to examine how they have changed rather than Japanese games.

    If FF7 were to come out today with modern graphics and sensibilities, I think it would fail. I don’t think it was ever really a particularly good game, but more important than that is that most gamers in the west don’t really want that sort of thing these days. If not for the power of rose-tinted glasses and lack of cash-ins, FF7 would likely fade from memory.

  • forweg

    It’s this simple: If the Japanese game press consistently praised every big name Japanese game and bashed nearly every Western game, Westerners would be all over them as evil, biased, xenophobic Japanese. But they don’t. They grovel to every big-name Western FPS clone like everyone else.

    No, the ones who practice this kind of propaganda is the western gaming press. No one questions their motives and simply takes what they say as The Truth. It is hypocrisy. If GameSpot or Kotaku say Japanese games are inferior, they are inferior. No questions asked.

    It’s the exact same situation with the respective game developers and their attitudes.

    • Syltique

      That’s pretty much my take on it as well.  It’s not really based in fact, or in the quality of the games.  It’s just a sustained, multi-year smear campaign.

    • Yerld_CK

      Traditionally, the Japanese magazines -have- bashed most western games, and they were definitely accused of being xenophobic. Retailers (who stuffed western games into an obscure corner and sometimes labelled them outright as “kusoge”…….you see, the large Japanese publishers had forced them to stock some of the western games they were distributing), customers, developers, and press were harshly nationalistic in terms of their gaming preferences.

      The attitude changed this generation because: 

      a) Japanese consumers aren’t buying as many homegrown games anymore.
      b) Japanese companies lack the money and efficiency to make many console games

      In that regard, publishers (and thus the gaming press) have been forced to embrace western product.

  • Ziko577

     This man is talking some real talk about how things got to the point where they’ve gotten unlike guys like Keiji Inafune who think that we’re superior to them in terms of technology and such. We in the West suffer from the same issues. Here’s my take on it.

    To clarify friction, to me it means that the game doesn’t insult your intelligence to the point where they must think we’re stupid. Nintendo can afford to experiment nowadays with such concepts because again, they got everything to a science to what gamers want. Other companies are more concerned about profit, time, and what they can do to market it. An example is the explosion of anime titles this year and the past 8-9 years I’ve observed. I have it to where every time there’s a popular anime franchise like Bleach or Reborn, they try to release games of whatever kind during the run of the series but then when the popularity drops off to where it’s no longer relevant such as the latter series Reborn, the games almost disappear. Another not so well known series called Kishin Douji Zenki had this happened back in the mid-90’s. It had 7-8 games in the span of a year! Over saturating the market with low quality games is a killer for sure. One can argue this is what lead to the rapid decline of music, rhythm games here in the West. The only titles still around to my knowledge is Dance Central and some new one coming out in the fall that was at E3 this year. Guitar Hero and Rock Band developers even stated that there’s too many of these games out here and they even told the fans that we can’t see the games having a stable future so they bowed out of it.

    As far as the culture goes, well we Westerners like manly men who are hardcore killers and not men who are skinny, scrawny nerds like myself with some manners and respect like in these animes these days. :/ Or loli, moe, teenage girls instead of young women with a decent head on their shoulders. To me, the language barrier isn’t an excuse but rather a deterrent because there’s a myriad of ways to learn basic Japanese and it doesn’t take much time. You can play a lot of Japanese games in no time. I am. :)

    I’ll admit that the quality of Japanese and Western games is suffering but economic, company politics, lack of creativity, etc. all contribute to it.

  • Another east vs. west, he-said she-said debate, eh? Well, whatever. He’s entitled to his opinion and such, but I highly disagree. His argument seems so one-sided and it’s hard to take it seriously.

  • Roberto Armando Iraheta

    This times a million. I’ve said this over and over. Everyone’s games suck right now in general and it’s due to overinflated budgets. As such Japanese devs can’t keep up with their western counterparts, so it “looks” like they’re getting worse, when in actuality, they’re just as bad as the west.

    Each area, whether it’s Japan, US or Europe, they all have their pros and cons. The real problem lies in just how ridiculous the costs go into making games with bleeding edge graphics, hours and hours of voice overs, motion capture, facial capture, scripts, and so on, just pile up and get out of hand.

    The fact that GTAIV had a script and voice cast 3x bigger than the previous game did not in fact make it a better game, nor did its graphics. It was a mediocre game, with steps back in gameplay and terrible script. I’d rather play San Andreas any day over it.

    How about Skyrim? Large spanning overworld. Every NPC is voiced. Hundreds of hours of gameplay. Or even Diablo III? Yet, I can vastly enjoy playing Dark Souls or Tales of Graces f that have vastly smaller budgets. They both have better voice overs, better combat systems and are greatly more inspired than their competition.

    I’d rather see a focus on the what matters than overproduced garbage. At the end of the day, I play games for fun, not for how much pointless s**t you can cram into a disc.

    • Rogerrmark

      Tales of Graces f and Dark Souls are indeed better than lot’s of ”blockbusters”.

  • Interesting read.. So it is like some Japanese games nowadays focus more on an anime brand name’s popularity rather than trying to give much effort to bring the best out of its other important factors such as in-game story, game mechanics and consumer replayability?

  • KuroiKen

    So in the end, for him the game is good if “it sold well”? Lol, maybe for HIM it is so, but for me, as a consumer, it isn’t, because I care about the game, not sales. Many great games didn’t sell well, some due to bad promotion, some due to being totally unknown, but it doesn’t mean they’re bad.
    First of all, no game can appeal to everyone, and even if the game sold millions – there’s completely no guarantee that I, for one, will like it. That is exactly why I do not care about sales. Just like I do not care about game magazine’s ratings – they won’t guarantee that I’ll like the game.

  • JustaGenericUser

    Interesting read.. So it is like some Western games nowadays focus more
    on Hollywood movie popularity rather than trying to give much
    effort to bring the best out of its other important factors such as
    in-game story, game mechanics and consumer replayability?

  • As long as I’m having fun and the game is good to me, then I don’t care where they come from.

  • Karl Schneider

    “Just because you make a “dudebro” shooter doesn’t mean it is a sure thing.”

    How many shooters have failed since COD? The only ones that have tried to stray too far form the dudebro fomula. Decent games like Binary Domain or Vanquish did exceptionally poorly despite their “spectacle” and strong design (in core areas). They failed because they lacked multiplayer and burger town. Games like Homefront (which are cheaply executed and poorly made) that emulate the dudebro design well (but are in and of themselves, bad games) continue to make a profit (Homefront did, despite being a shoddy dudebro shooter).

    Japanese games don’t sell because Westerns have a stigma against non-“hardcore masculine” things. Also, because they often sport an art or story design that is unnatural for western style of beauty.

    Basically though, both western and japanese markets produce bad games. They both produce a few great games. Marketing is what sells the bad ones, and in the west, there is more money to market. Binary Domain and Vanquish had 1/50th the marketing of Homefront, even though they’re 50 times better shooters than it, even disregarding the lack of multiplayer.

    • CirnoLakes

      I know this is something you’re not supposed to say. But this is really alienating for me as an American if it is true. At the very least, I like to assume that while there’s a big “dudebro” audience out there that I’ve never been a part of, that Japanese games are still loved by many and that the Western audience is segmented. Nintendo games do seem to do well, after all.

      The bad part about it is, though, how annoying some of these dudebro fans are. There are multiple internet communities that cater to them and they can be very, very loud and annoying. And they literally help convince some major people in the industry who ought to know better, that Westerners don’t like Japanese games anymore.

      I wish I didn’t, but I can at least attest to the idea you’re talking about with the “hardcore masculine” stuff. I can’t tell how many times I’ve been called “not hardcore” and “casual”, because I like playing ultra difficult scrolling shooters like Touhou, DoDonPachi, Mushihimesama, and ect., because they’re “girly looking”. And look at a lot of reviews for cutesy games that are incredibly hardcore, a lot of people will preface the game with “don’t let the cutesy exterior fool you, this game is difficult”, OF COURSE IT’S DIFFICULT. IT’S A NICHE OTAKU BULLET HELL GAME. Gritty “masculine” games aren’t any more likely to be difficult than cutesy ones. Furthermore, this audience seems new and ungrateful to many things that make up the video gaming culture, while acting like they’re the “real” video gamers. I can’t count the amount of times I’ve heard these “hardcore” gamers, insult Mario, Zelda, classic Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest, Earthbound, anyone who plays on a console or a game that was meant for a console, retro-gaming, indie-games, anything without cutting edge graphics, and all sorts of staples of the gaming industry and history.

      When I first started hearing the term “hardcore gamer”, I thought, “hey, maybe I fit this label. I pay ridiculous amounts of money to import games that don’t make it to the West. Learn new languages in the process. Collect and play loads of retro games and have been playing for over 2 decades. And love all sorts of niche games and know lots of niche games well as mainstream ones. From obscure scrolling shooter games for the Sega-CD, to obscure, untranslated jRPGs, and ect. But no, the hundreds of games I know and love make me a “casual” in the eyes of many, because they’re not masculine.

      I am a hardcore gamer. And I like my “girly” games just fine, thank you very much. Sorry for the rant.

      • puchinri

        Slow. Clap. I think that was perfectly and soundly said. I noticed this just the other day with boyfriend and one of our friends.

        Our friend doesn’t dislike Touhou really (he enjoys the fighting games but has a hard time in the mainstream titles), but it does get quite the label slapped on it amongst our group, especially by him and a couple of others who are into the more “masculine” type of games (and by, has the definition of masculine been skewed since this hardcore thing evolved/changed too). My boyfriend, on the otherhand, loves Touhou, and he and one of our other friends are the type to play overly difficult games. And these games are usually incredibly simple or difficult looking. And yet, these same games are not hardcore.

        It’s also interesting to see how some games and/or companies that were (and still are, in some cases) innovators and/or cornerstones of gaming become slammed. And it’s weird to see how things flip. I mean, I feel that the LoZ games are still difficult and I guess they’re not as difficult anymore, but a lot of people make it seem as though the games aren’t as fun or worthwhile anymore because they’re not raging at how hard the game is. But recently, this was brought up in an interesting fashion too (is a game fun just because it makes you want to chuck the controller at your TV? And why is that?). It’s like there’s no winning.

        The way our industry is certainly doesn’t help with this. “Journalism” is very biased anymore, most sites are very heavily leaned in one direction, and even people’s phrasing when approaching things helps to cement people’s mentalities (the, “don’t be fooled by its cuteness” bits). 

        I certainly agree with you 1000%. And I’m glad for your comment/rant. My thanks for that~.

    •  no, Vanquish failed because it was a lackluster third person shooter with iffy gameplay and a weary gimmick (fuckin’ rocket sliding!?!) that most gaming consumers had the common sense to give two shits about!!

  • Scrooge_McDuck

    This “friction” thing is a valid writing problem, sure, but I don’t think it’s the crux of the problem. Say what you will about Final Fantasy games, but for
    the most part they manage to avoid stating the obvious in their
    dialogues. On the other hand, MGS4 is the worst offender of this, and
    look at how popular it is.

    • puchinri

      I actually think a majority of the FF titles have good writing, and even the ones that I enjoy the least still have some fun character and story traits that they delivered in (or they were innovative in some way or another). Hence, I think their friction can be pretty low. They deal with broad enough themes and open enough gameplay that doesn’t hold your hand for any longer than necessary. Most of them (like, 97%).

      tl;dr, I agree~. Also, I think once you get start an actual focus on story, both western and eastern games aplenty have problems with friction in writing, and it isn’t always about the story or character themselves, technically.

  • Uhh,..most western games don’t sell well either nor are they very good. Ignorance is bliss, I guess? 

    • Yeah. Nvr thought abt so much video game issue til I follow this site….. 

      On another note, your post reminds me of this–>

  • Anon-non

    i believe japan has gameplay done. they make awesome games, gameplay-wise. what they need to improve on is to write and present a better story with better characters.

    the biggest most glaringly obvious difference between western and japanese games  are that western games tend to be interactive movies; which are good things, since their story-telling is mindblowing. they can tell good stories, while being cohesive to gameplay. cutscene and gameplay weave into each other beautifully. as opposed to the clunky cutscene-gameplay-cutscene formula japanese games (still) use.

    i believe if japanese games improve on they narrative structure and writing, then japan might be able to catch up. it’s not because their games are not ‘dudebro shooters’, i think most mainstream western gamers just want a game that DOESNT have the narrative of a past-generation video game. the reason we didn’t do stuff like that in the past was because we didnt have the hardware for it.
    as a gamer who used to blindly defend japanese games, i’ve realized painfully how slow japan is behind, after comparing the contrasting level of quality games offered between e3 and tgs. it’s kinda sad.ffv13 might be able to pull it all. we’ve all seen the trailers and it’s exactly how i’d want japanese games should be. it has a cohesive narrative that blends gameplay and story. it STILL has classic japanese archetypes we expect from japanese rpgs, at the same thing making the characters different by adding depth. that way, they’ll feel familiar, but still unique. of course, im basing all of this on a trailer. who knows, maybe the actual game will tank. but so far, the trailer pains me to see more and more japanese companies outsourcing games to western developers, but if it’s the only way they’ll learn, then so be it.

    • you know to some degree i agree with you. alot of the western demographic doesn’t get the Japanese themes and archetypes, and im not talking cultural themes, but the fluffy themes you see in games like tales and even ff, the theme of deep friendship and love etc, not that there is anything wrong with that but just as you said, the delivery of those themes and story is through squeaky voiced teens and overly dramatic adults. which i find endearing but not all people do.

      Then … i look at games such as Nier and Catherine, and i realize that yes, japan is behind somewhat,but its almost as if they’re stubborn to adapt because hot damn they are the most innovative in story telling and game design. if only they would stop mimicking the west or trying to, and do what they do best. i totally agree with this article, good games sell, period.

  • Uh huh, hmm, maybe, then you lost me at hamburger.

  • Pichi

    I don’t think there’s anything “wrong” with Japanese games for the most part. Its possible that perhaps demographics have changed since we now have gamers who grew up with the likes of Halo and not Mario. Economics in that we don’t see a big push for many Japanese games like back then(best you see are Square, Capcom, and Nintendo stuff on TV). Westeners are going to be used to Western tropes than Japanese ones, especially if they lack seeing other Japanese media like manga and anime(especially anime since its not on TV alot like it used to be).

    • One of the most insightful, thought provocative opinions I’ve ever read regarding this subject, pratically ever since this whole controversy about the apparent lack of quality in japanese games rose about. I had never thought about the whole “growing up with” western games and media thingamajig, and it makes perfect sense.

    • Morricane

      Although, honestly, several of those typical tropes of anime and manga will make anyone who left puberty behind himself scream in agony. I look at you, indecisive teenage-protagonist (who for some reason gets all the girls)!
      Which is the friction he talks about here, but I call it target group catering…

      • Locklear93

        Or the “I WILL PROTECT EVERYONE, AND CREATE A WORLD WHERE NO ONE IS EVER SAD!” teenage protagonist.  I had to quit playing Tales of Graces F because I wanted to stab the hero in the face so badly.

    • puchinri

      I agree on the way demographics and also the economics point. I do think that was also the point he was making about the tropes that, and I most definitely agree with that. 

      Also, if I may ask, who/what is your avatar?

      • Pichi

        She’s Neaki, an Ice Spirit from the DS game, Avalon Code.

        • puchinri

           Ah, thanks! (I still need to play it too~.)

  • d19xx

    Man I don’t care if it’s made either in the east or the west, I can play any game as long as I’m not a bald space marine…..


      Same here. The issue is that is there seems to be a stigma about Japanese games that prevents many of them from being localized. Many games I want to play are niche like Senran Kagura and Project Diva F and I believe there are enough people out there that want to play these game if ever localized. But I get the feeling that the people making the decisions are thinking, “If JPN game X won’t sell well or as well as NA game X, why waste our time?”.

      I like to believe gamers are more open to different gaming, but the people at the company level aren’t willing to risk bring stuff over here because  of that stigma.

  • Colin Tosh

    What you talking bout Jean? Neptunia is the best game on PS3. Thats my opinion and I’m sticking to it.

    • ArthurCarvalho

      Yeah, me too. But I’d rather play it where no one can see me. I have no problem with the graphics and art style, I like it a lot actually, but it’s really bad getting weird looks from other people when you’re playing it.

      Still, it’s better than see dudebros shaking their asses vigorously into the screen, like most dudebros western games are. (Man, those guys sure love seeing a muscular bro half-naked instead of a girl)

    •  how many people in japan bought them, that is the thing even in japan console sales are dead in the water and almost never pass 1 million,

  • z_merquise

    I agree on what JP Kellam said in the first part. Either the game is made in Japan or not, the game can be good or bad. The only advantage most game developers in the West had is bigger budget and marketing. But in the end, it’s all in the quality of the game.

    But I don’t fully get is the friction thing and the McDonald example he made. That ordering at McDonald example he made sound like on those old games – “Will you use this key? Yes or No? This key would be then discarded. Discard it now? Yes or No?“. If that what I thought it is, then I think most games today don’t have that.

    I hope someone here can cite a better example on that one.

    • SeventhEvening

      Play FFXIII for the best example of friction. I liked FFXIII, but the game hands you abilities one at a time for about 12 hours. It takes forever for you to get past the hand holding and finally get to choose party members and really control the experience. It really did feel like the game just didn’t trust me to handle the whole system at the same time. 

      • Gaara D.Dragon

        Long story short: FF XIII was ridiculously easy cause Square has the ridiculous preconception that western audiences dont want to play tough games…

  • SLick123456789111

    I’ll take a double cheese , large fry & a chocolate shake off the Nintendo Value Menu.
    This post is irrelevant.

  • Gaara D.Dragon

    I dont agree with this guy, Japanese creators have a huge issue with appealing to western audiences: FF XIII is the perfect example of being extremely expensive and very spectacular but failing to be what we would expect of a FF title.

    A great game can be ruined by unbalanced difficulty 

    DMC 3 was way too hard at first, Ninja Gaiden 3 is way too easy, FF XIII is way too easy, so is Star Ocean 4, so is eternal sonata, nier, DMC 4 etc

    That way games lose their edge and become boring, Demons Souls on the other hand was appealing for a big part because it was challenging

  • Freud_Hater

    That whole ‘friction’ thing is ridiculous. Nintendo games aren’t successful because their characters lack ‘friction’ but because the gameplay in Nintendo games is fun for everyone. It’s just silly to think people, be they Japanese or ‘Westerners’ would buy or enjoy games simply based on the characters Oo What is he saying, anyway? That there are no bad Western games? That’s just stupid. I have no idea what PlatinumGames is supposed to be, but, whatever they are, they’ve already lost my interest and respect (Although those things are probably of very slim worth, to them)

    • mattaka_hala

      Did you even spend one minute reading the text? Being fun for everyone is exactly what he meant with “frictionless”. Also he made a point that there are enough bad western games to illustrate his opinion.
      Also, do NOT, i repeat do NOT deride the entire company for the opinion of one man, especially if that company is called platinum games.
      They made some of the best and unique action games avaiable nowadays (Bayonetta, Vanquish, Infinite Space, Madworld) and your ignorance is simply appalling.

      PS: Platinum Games is a japanese company

      •  Sorry, but Vanquish had so much “Friction”, i got static cling..which is to say the game sucked ass!!

  • 果林

    ~looking at valkyria chronicles~ was pretty good game but didnt sell all that great?

    •  amazingly the PS3 game(first one that came out) did not sell that well in Japan

      also if you check a LOT OF THE FIGHTING games Japanese buy always less than 200,000 units. it is insane because when you look at all the huge Japanese franchises  are alive because people in the west buy them(not all of course)

  • Lots of western games nowadays also have this “friction” thing this dude is talking about. I understand and agree with his arguments to some extent, lots of japanese games do that, but it really isn’t something exclusive to them.

    Also, I am personally getting kinda tired of this discussion, pratically since 2005/06 we’ve been discussing the decline in japanese gaming, and honestly everytime this is discussed, little that was not known before is made public. That being said, I did like to see what Mr Kellams had to say.

    I still play lots of japanese games today. Sure, there were more and better japanese games before, but like he said, it’s not so much about the origin of the games but more about whether these games are good or bad. If I like a game, I’ll get it. I tend to be more easily drawn into japanese games because I prefer the character designs and themes they deal with. But then again, I would never pick a bad japanese game over a good western one. In the end, all I care for are good games, despite the country where they come from.

  • DDanny

    Guess there’s a point anyone sane could agree with: both western and eastern devs have made and are capable of making exceptional games. Problem is, there aren’t really many of those in both sides.

  • Manny Being Manny

    Honestly, I don’t think Japanese games are any worse… they’re just not aimed for Western audiences anymore. Why try to compete with the big budgets that Western companies can do, especially when you yourself don’t really enjoy these types of games? Its best for Japanese to focus on making games aimed for the Japanese. The Japanese aren’t interested in Western oriented games, just Japanese games, so there is still a market for them.

  • Pipiskin99

    the only “wrong” with japanese games is their mindless western public which goes mad if they don’t see a hulked marine shooting crap out someone.
    i hate when good developers have to make claims like this, formally japanese gamedev didn’t westernize and bastardize games like now, they just made them and they were awesome.
    saying they are worse in some way is just plain wrong, in the days of grey cloned shooters, which is now, only the japanese people can still suprise with great style or art design choices or create something completely new and make it work in a unique way,
    i say modern gamer is simply ignorant whiny pig who needs a beating. thanks to western audience we had easy mode in megaman 2 and megaman 10, we had easy automatic mode in bayonetta, we had easy mode in ninja gaiden, we had A-to-B gameplay in ff13 and generally all the games just became ridiculous.
    that’s why i like to play retro games on famicom and super famicom, they were not yet poisoned by westernezation, only the localized boxart (eww) was, while the games themselves stayed genuine and original, with japanese soul and touch.

    • Hossi Blumengaarten

      WTF are you talking about, Japanese do not make amazing games like FFX,Star Ocean till the ends of time, Xenogears, Phantasy Star Online, Grandia…… and so on

      I played Final Fantasy XIII and what the hell was Snow talking about being a hero and all this stupid stuff, it sounded so dumb!!!!! compare that to the dialogue and story of FFX!!! remember that FF12 was supposed to be different but the developers had to add little kids and all this other crap because of Japanese taste, developers who were japanese were pissed like crazy and some left!!!!

  • brian

    Funny that he talks about reducing friction, even though the highest grossing games ever are “dudebro” games full of friction.

  • xxx128

    Japanese creators seem burned out. Thats my take on the whole thing. And running after western standards for their games will do nothing for them.

  • wat_wat

    Very insightful. Aside from their awesome games, their communication and down to earth attitude with their fans is another thing I love about Platinum Games. I agree with everything he said. That menu part had me chuckling because its true. Confirmations of confirmations in Japanese games. Hahaha

    Anyway, the first and second paragraphs nailed it. Bad games and good games exist on both sides. “That’s why exceptional means exceptional,” indeed. What happened is pretty simple: the market grew. 

    Video games are bigger than ever before; it has surpassed the movie industry. This gen has seen more “western” studios making console games than ever before. Bethesda, Bioware, Infinity Ward, Epic, Valve, etc. All of these devs that previously had minor presence in the console space are now making “blockbuster” games on consoles. Not to mention indie developers have a bigger slice of the console pie than ever before thanks to digital distribution via PSN, XLBA, Nintendo store/shop (I don’t know what they call it. lol.) The market is bigger and a wider variety of games are available when compared to previous gens where Japanese games were dominant. Because of that, the demographic is changing a bit. Growing pains and all of that. We have kids that won’t grow up playing Phantasy Star and Chrono Trigger like the 80’s babies, but they’ll grow up with Halo, COD, Assassins Creed and Gears. 

    The “east vs west” debate pretty much equates to “Japan vs everything that isn’t Japan,” (which is already unfair, haha.) Many Japanese devs/pubs simply don’t have the money and manpower to keep up with everyone else in producing product for this big and growing market. That’s the nitty-gritty of it, imo.

  • Happy Gamer

    I am a sociology major and there is this thing called a cohort. I really think the demographic shift in in gaming plus the insane change of the market does have a huge impact as well. I know I have read somewhere that vast majority of gamers are in the 30s and 40s, but I feel the majority of people who buy up the games are not necessarily this case. 
    I have been gaming since the 80s and the “mature” or “older” gamer now days are still years younger than me, and there is a generation gap. Most people I meet who game say old school is PSX era whereas for me it would be Atari or NES etc.

  • I find it funny that Platinum Games of all companies would write this. Bayonetta is one of the best examples of what’s wrong with Japanese Games, as far as I’m concerned.
    That said, I don’t like Japanese games less than Western games (infact I think I like them more), but there are certain things that Japanese games seem to do a lot more often than Western games, and vice versa of course.

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