Game Development Isolationism?


Brian Dunn, blog editor of the Lost Planet Community Blog, posted today his personal interview with Lost Planet producer Jun Takeuchi in which he talks to Takeuchi-san about various things ranging from daily life to who owns who on Lost Planet multiplayer within the Lost Planet development team. After making a note of the West leading the gaming industry when Japan originally lead the gaming industry, Brian asked Takeuchi-san what it is from the Western developers that Japanese developers can learn, Takeuchi-san replied with the following:


"Like you said, the tables really have turned. A lot of Japanese developers have pretty much given up, and just focus on making games for Japan. They dont think they can make games that will sell anywhere else. So this trend, this “game development isolationism,” I think is very troubling. I’m concerned about what will happen to the industry in Japan."




Takeuchi-san is basically stating that Japanese developers are facing a major problem when it comes to game development; rather than developing games that have a universal appeal, assuming they do, Japanese developers have now, according to Takeuchi-san, given up on the West and have instead isolated themselves to the interest of their fellow Japanese gamers. Whether or not his comment has any truth is beyond comprehension since quite a few Japanese developed games tend to do a hell of a lot better here than in their homeland (Okami, for example); but should this statement hold any validity, could such an isolationist mindset really hurt Japanese developers in the long run?


It’s nice to see a Japanese developer like Capcom wanting to make games that have a universal appeal towards gamers in the East and the West; but prior to Gears of War reaching the Top 10 in Japanese game sales not too long ago, when was the last time a Western developed game did really well in the East to reach the Top 10? As with most games in the East like Disgaea having a niche audience in the West, Western developed games like Halo, Ultima, Call of Duty, and even Fable and KOTOR have a niche audience in the East. Regardless of such, are Japanese developers really at fault for not creating universally appealing games anymore; or are Western developers just as guilty as Japanese developers, or perhaps even more guilty than Japanese developers, in this sense of isolationism when it comes to developing games? Whatever the case may be, game development isolationism is something that’s been around for quite some time; and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see how both sides are guilty of such a developmental concept.