Shuhei Yoshida On Growing Indie Games In Japan

By Sato . February 7, 2014 . 5:29pm

Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida showed support for indie games and developers when the PlayStation 4 was revealed last year. During an interview with Famitsu magazine, Yoshida talks about indie games and his expectations of Japanese developers.


“I’ve always been one to love indie games,” starts Yoshida with a laugh. “And I also think that seeing you guys at Famitsu and other media focus on indie games is actually a great thing.”


Since revealing the PlayStation 4, Yoshida has stated that he’ll be supporting indie games. Famitsu asks him to share some words on the charm he sees in indie titles.


“Outside of Japan, there are many high-integrity indie titles released for the PlayStation Vita,” says Yoshida. “Those titles can be enjoyed in short bursts and you can play them whenever you feel like it, which I believe is their charm. Additionally, the North American PS Store has new titles every week, and it’s even fun just to check them out.”


“Since the past, I’ve always felt that there are so many interesting games out there, and it feels like such a waste that we don’t have them in Japan, too, so I’m looking at it in a different light now,” continues Yoshida.


“Of course due to ratings and other issues, it’s difficult to simply make foreign titles playable in Japan, but I’d like to make some platform adjustments, so they can be made more available in Japan.”


Famitsu asks Yoshida what made him decide to give indie games the extra push for PlayStation 4.


“These are my personal thoughts, but to put it simply, ‘there are many interesting games out there and I’d like to introduce them to you all’ is the reason,” shares Yoshida. “As to how these thoughts came to mind—mobile, PC, and home consoles are starting to go more towards a digital direction, and this has also become an opportunity for profit from players around the world.”


Angry Birds on mobile phones and Minecraft on PC and consoles have been successful enough to grow from providing their creators with just enough money to put food on the table to something much more. Additionally, if we could add indie games to fill in the gaps between big titles, the market and industry would likely be more active. This is a crucial part of it.”


That said, Famitsu points out that at the current state, there doesn’t seem to be too many Japanese indie titles for consoles.


“I expect it will increase from this point on,” says Yoshida. “From shooters to 2D action games and Japanese RPGs, there are many creators in Japan with such popular genres that have deep roots around the world. If such people participate more in making indie games, they will surely get attention, and it would d be interesting to see.”


“It’d be nice to have someone see an indie game that was made by a young creator, and think to themselves, ‘Hey, I can make an even better game!’” he continues. “PlayRoom was actually made by a few young developers, and without thinking too much of it, they were able to make something they thought would be fun.”


“I think it’d be fun if creators can invent something that has yet to be done, and create something that they personally would like to represent.”

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  • XyzzySqrl

    “Since the past, I’ve always felt that there are so many interesting games out there, and it feels like such a waste that we don’t have them in Japan, too”.

    I feel like all of a sudden Japan is where the US was in the nineties, going “wow you guys are making all this cool stuff CAN WE HAVE IMPORTS NOW PLEASE?”
    That’s really disorienting to see. I wonder if there’s like a Japanese version of GameFan magazine getting super-hype over weird US games nobody here gives a crap about.

    • Lol

    • Pdugna

      here is the difference though, in the past we needed localizations for odd japanese games because they were on consoles. Now US indie games are online and mostly on PC so if those people in Japan who want to play those games they can just download them easily online.

      • Tarkovsky

        There actually a couple of AAA console games that are not brought over to Japan either. Titles like the Deadspace and XCOM games. And while they are available on Steam, I’m pretty sure most Japanese players would prefer to play those on consoles.

        • Pdugna

          Yeah but they can if they “Really” need to play the game can just download on a PC

          • XyzzySqrl

            I would like to know more about this process of downloading and playing Vita/PS3/4 games on a PC. I don’t think we’re quite there yet.

          • Pdugna

            this topic is about Indies which the majority are on the PC which is not region locked mostly so it helps there, and most Third Parties have a PC version.

          • XyzzySqrl

            This interview is with the head of Sony, who is talking about the Vita and PS3/4.

          • Pdugna

            which is about indies that are also on PC it’s not the same situation as old Japanese games on consoles that were region locked

          • Tarkovsky

            There are alot of games that don’t get released on the Japanese steam store(region locked) though so yea. They don’t get to play every game on the PC unless they use VPN. So it’s really the same problem with Japanese players who want to play Western games.

          • Pdugna

            Steam isn’t the only option on PC plenty of other ways to get western versions of the game and play them

      • icecoffemix

        Is it really that simple for Japanese? How do they pay it? And isn’t their English pretty bad?

        • Pdugna

          yeah same case for western people wanting Japanese only games

          • icecoffemix

            For digital only meaning… pirating it?

          • chocodino

            not necesary, a credit card can be enought to buy from aniwhere from the world [even if digitally], unless it’s region restricted..

            like in most parts of the world, they probably teach english from first grade and you can’t graduate [i.e. finishing a carrer] without knowing english

          • Pdugna

            unless Steam is magically IP locked I’m pretty sure they can buy things off it. hell I”m sure GOG is there to.

          • icecoffemix

            With Japanese credit card?

            Edit: Hmm I guess you’re right, it’s only a problem if the issued location mismatched.

    • God

      The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence… Unless you are me, the grass is just as shitty everywhere.

      • Crazy_O

        Well you created this mess, god.

        • Callonia

          oh lawl u funny

      • Tarkovsky

        Couldn’t have said it better myself.

  • z_merquise

    It’s really nice that there’s a slow resurgence to the mid and low budgeted games that are just what it is, fun games that meant to be enjoyed either in quick burst or in long hours.

    Not every games need to push for realism, graphics and over-bloated budget. Not saying here that big-budgeted games are bad, but there should be just a balance in everything.

    • Anewme…Again

      Yeah, for me once a game start being too realistic, i don’t really have fun anymore.
      I don’t mean that i don’t like playing games like that though, but i have no fun playing them.

    • Shippoyasha

      To be fair, mid/low budget games has been Japan’s forte for a solid decade now. After the PS2 era, they largely moved away from major console releases. Ever since the DS and PSP, devs have went smaller and more budget conscious in general, with some even going free to play via mobile/browser.

      A lot of western developers has been the same way with most indies never having the budget to dream of a proper disc release, ever.

      The thing is really that mainstream game players are finally realizing that there’s a huge market there in the indies and in the handhelds where Japan has largely migrated to. It has been this way for a solid 10 years or so. It’s just that people are waking up to it quite late.

  • Yes, I’m all for bringing these indie games to Japan. In return, I’d love to see the floodgates opened for the Japanese indie scene to come to PS4 and Vita. There’s lots of great stuff out there.

  • icecoffemix

    We need more Japanese indie too, yosp!

    • GH56734

      Be careful of the unfortunate racist implications of the specific variant of the word you just used. Friendly advice :)

      • icecoffemix

        Which one? I really don’t have any clue…

        Ooops never mind, googled it, didn’t know it’s considered that, I’ll edit it. o_O

      • M’iau M’iaut

        Sorry. That is one that I try to grab as I can, but as the poster notes — it seems more than a few are honestly unaware of how powerfully negative the word is in American English. Probably the best shorthand I could offer to the community would be JP.

        • icecoffemix

          Think I’ll use JP from now on, seems the word is negative predominantly on US.

          • That’s probably because of how it was used here during WW2. JP is shorter anyway and just feels cooler~. ^u^

  • ShadowDivz

    They should add a “Touhou” section to the PSN, for all the touhou fan games.

    There would be money flowing out the wazoo.

    • Pdugna

      Touhou about the most well known Japanese Indie series I can think of.

      • ShadowDivz

        Exactly. And there are some really nice games out there.

        Sky arena anyone?

        • Namuro

          Would be nice to see Touhou games available for the mass. But, didn’t ZUN want to keep the series exclusive for the PC?

          The indie developers may want to respect ZUN’s wish, and keep the games on said platform, even if the games are spin-off, since they’re still related to Touhou.

          Besides, most of these guys developed the games for fun, and for the fans, not for profit (not their main focus as far as I know). It would also cost them more work to port the games over to PS console, including stuff like licensing issue as well, even if ZUN is pretty lax in that area, but only if the works are kept at the ‘doujin’ level.

  • Tarkovsky

    Cat Mario (Syobon Action) on consoles!

    • Mar Mar

      Indie games have existed in Japan for quite a long time… and they are free and made for fun not for profit.

      Don’t forget Super Mario XP

      • Tarkovsky

        Yea. I kinda wanna play them on my TV though. Would love to play the Touhou games on a large screen.

  • Kornelious

    You know, i’ve always wondered if over in Japan there are people like us, on a site similair to this one complaining and asking for a localization of the next……..Dragon Age game (As an example)

    • Tinye

      The answer is yes just because that’s the way people work. It would be fun to read, that’s for sure. I would empathize with them and then make a guide to help people read English. :D

      • Kornelious

        True, I guess it;s equal footing. We don’t think it’s big news if we get the next Dragon Age or Elder Scrolls game because those come naturally. But if a SEGA game or Bamco game got localized then we “PRAISE THE SUN!!!” (sorry couldn’t help it) So I’m sure it’s the same thing from the other perspective.

    • DesmaX

      “hahahaha, you people should just learn English. Much better than waiting for localization!”

      Anyway, since Sonic Boom is not going to be released in japan, I’m pretty sure there’s people in Japan with the same complaints

    • icecoffemix

      Since GTA V sold for close to 700K in Japan and Saints Row 4 apparently did good (as did The Witcher). I’m confident that there are portion of people who are on similar situation like us there, kinda funny actually.

    • Shippoyasha

      The biggest one is probably for the military otakus who are into the military types of games like Battlefield and Call of Duty and worrying if the Japanese government and/or game ratings board will force the localization to cut down on the blood and violence.

      Nobody likes censorship. Anywhere.

  • Arz

    fun fact:If you have something to say to him,just tweet it to him.His pretty active on Twitter.

    • xavier axol

      he get’s tons of tweets from other people, so it’s hard to get an answer from him. plus having an interview with him, you can get him to answer tough question. like the state of the vita in 2014, it’s obvious that getting lot’s of indies and remote play aren’t working.

  • xavier axol

    I hope you guys get to interview shuhei one day, a guy like him to be in charge of 13 studios must be very tough. also I’m very intrigue by how japan studio is been run, it seems to me like they are turning it like santa monica studios. which it seems to be the case since allan becker now call the shots (for those who don’t know, he was the head of santa monica studios). I’m fascinated by an article a read a while back from kotaku and it makes me to believe that japan studios will make a comeback to be an important asset to world wide studios again like it did in the ps1 and ps2 era.

    p.s. this is the article I was referring to . I

  • kamiboy

    If the Japanese start making indie games then perhaps there will actually be an indie game worth playing since Cave Story.

  • Kari

    “I think it’d be fun–ff–creators can invent something that has yet to be done, and create something that they personally would like to represent.”


  • 60hz

    why dont they just go to comiket and grab all those indie doujin devs???

    • Max

      Doujin culture has nothing to do with publishing on a console.
      Some large name doujin circles have made ports to consoles and other smaller ones have been approached by localization companies to make phone or PC ports, yet, the main point of doujin culture isn’t to make profit off their work.
      If they were really interested on cashing in like western indie games do, they wouldn’t be on comiket in the first place.

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