Japanese Developers Aren’t Respected By Their Companies, Says Keiji Inafune


Speaking with Gamasutra, Comcept and Intercept founder, Keiji Inafune of ex-Capcom fame, has much to say about the issues he feels are holding Japanese game developers back. Above all, Inafune believes that game developers in Japan aren’t treated with respect by their employers, as opposed to the west, where he feels they are.


“For example, in the U.S., Medal of Honor was a huge hit as a series, and in response to that, Call of Duty started up in hopes of becoming even bigger,” Inafune begins, describing his observations of western game development.


“It succeeded, of course. Now, in terms of this recognition, there are several ways management can represent it to creators — in terms of how they treat the studio, how much money there is to work with — but the end result is that, because they feel recognized, the creators want to do even better with the next game they make. It’s a free sort of approach that, maybe, you could say reflects the whole ‘freedom’ of the country — everyone sees the respect they’re paid, and everyone wants to do better.”


Inafune then describes how he feels Japanese companies tend to do the opposite, and hand out responsibility without reward to their developers. “In Japan, meanwhile, even if you take the hero role, what it gets you is interviews like this one — it’s not like your salary goes up or anything,” he relates.


“You don’t get much reward for your effort. You get massive amounts of responsibility — the responsibility to take this game and make it sell X copies — but not much in terms of respect. That’s why we can’t give birth to heroes.”


This, Inafune says, is the case even with more high-profile Japanese developers.


“Even people who the overseas media think are really active and contributing to the industry — as long as they’re with the companies they work for, they’re working for surprisingly low salaries. If they tried negotiating, the response would very likely be ‘Well, we don’t need you that much.’”

Ishaan Sahdev
Ishaan specializes in game design/sales analysis. He's the former managing editor of Siliconera and wrote the book "The Legend of Zelda - A Complete Development History". He also used to moonlight as a professional manga editor. These days, his day job has nothing to do with games, but the two inform each other nonetheless.