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Yoko Taro Talks About Winning Awards And The Recent Rise Of Japanese Games



Since its release in February 2017, NieR: Automata has won all kinds of awards from around the world—from the Japan Game Awards to the Annual Game Developers Choice Awards. Yoko Taro shared his thoughts on winning awards in an interview with Famitsu.


Famitsu: Please tell us your thoughts on winning an “Award for Excellence” at the Japan Game Awards last year (2017).

Yoko Taro: Until then I lived the life of a no-good director that never even won an award at the Japan Game Awards, but thanks to the wonderful developers at PlatinumGames and the game designer Taura (Takahisa Taura) who led them, along with his popular sexy body that helped carry the load, I was able to receive such an award. As for my thoughts on that, I feel that you never know what can happen in life.



Next, can you share your thoughts on winning awards overseas? Was it an exceptional feeling of joy to have also won awards overseas?

Yoko Taro: NieR: Automata released in 2017 and it was a year that saw the release of Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Resident Evil 7 biohazard, Pokémon Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon and more from the super giant series as well as numerous AAA releases such as Horizon Zero Dawn from abroad. Being able to receive many awards in the midst of such a hellish battlefield was thanks to the support from the media and fans who continued to voice their passion after its release. I fully realize that these awards aren’t just an honor of the team, but something that was achieved with everybody. Thank you very much for supporting us.


We get the feeling that Japanese titles have been receiving more attention in recent years. What do you make of this situation?

Yoko Taro: There was a lot going on around 2017 and I believe there were many Japanese titles that were able to “fit in cozily between AAA titles and indie titles.” There was a gap in the Western market for that, and I believe titles from Japan specifically stood out. However, there are Western products being prepared for this very market, so I think it’s just a matter of time until this zone becomes a highly competitive marketplace. I want to quickly run away, but I’m not too sure where to run…


Can you tell us your thoughts on the difference of taste between Japanese fans and overseas fans?

Yoko Taro: If I had the talent to simply know the difference of taste between Japanese fans and overseas fans, I would probably be a much bigger director. In other words, I have no idea. However, whenever I approach a client as the director that I am, I need to put up a bluff and say “I am someone who understands both the Japanese and global market!” Adulting is hard.


When you win an award overseas, does it ever influence anything from Japan?

Yoko Taro: I don’t really know, but after NieR: Automata won awards, I thought I saw Takano-san (Tomoaki Takano) from public relations glowing like “Now we can hit big sales with a last push for profit. Then my position in Square Enix will skyrocket, and the executive seat that Saito-P (producer Yosuke Saito) is warming will eventually be mine… kukuku.”


(※ NieR: Automata PR manager: This is director Yoko Taro’s personal opinion.)


Lastly, could you please share a message for fans in Japan?

Yoko Taro: I believe that awards are words of praise that say “It was fun.” This goes for awards from the media, but also for the many comments that we get from social media, and I’m truly grateful. I don’t think I’ll ever be praised this much for the rest of my life, so I’d like to take these happy memories, and savor it, like slowly chewing on dried squid, while muttering at a wall “I won awards back then… I won awards…” for the rest of my life. Thank you very much.




NieR: Automata is available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

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Gamer, avid hockey fan, and firm believer in the heart of the cards.