Is the Japanese Gaming Industry Dying?

Japanese Gaming

It may seem like a rather ridiculous question at first, but consider that this question has been posed by a major Japanese game developer, who himself believes this may be the case. In an interview with videogamer.com at E3 2010, Capcom Producer and Mega Man creator Keiji Inafune stressed that he’s dismayed when he looks over the show floors of major events now and sees less and less of a Japanese presence, and the more prominent, attention-grabbing games largely coming from the West.

This was not the first time Mr. Inafune had made these remarks, as he expressed a similar sentiment during last year’s Tokyo Game Show. So just how true is it? Are Japanese releases becoming less prominent, and fewer and farther between? Perhaps you’re even asking yourself why you should care, after all, games are games, does it really matter where they come from?

Is the PS4 Doomed to Failure?

Well, this issue does of course have prime relevance concerning the PlayStation 3, and even more so, the PlayStation 4. Sony of course is a Japanese company, and while this generation has seen a greater mingling of games among the PlayStation and its main rival Xbox than the last generation did, with less console exclusives, there’s still the general perception that PlayStation is more for those who enjoy Japanese developed titles, while the Xbox caters to those who enjoy more Western-style games.

A severe drought in the Japanese gaming industry (or a retreat to the relative financial security of handheld game development) could greatly affect Sony’s success in the next generation console war, which will likely be a direct battle with American giant Microsoft again, while Nintendo skirts the edges of the battle with a less powerful, more family-oriented system. The snowball effect that could result from weaker Japanese representation, which could result in weaker system sales, and even less development support as a result, could truly herald the beginning of the end for Japan as the dominant player in the games industry, and leave many fans of Sony and Japan’s games wondering just what went wrong.

I made mention of the handheld industry above, and I wonder whether or not part of the problem lies in the fact that handhelds are more popular in Japan, making handheld development far more profitable for Japanese developers, leaving them with limited aspirations to tackle big-budget console releases. This trend was perhaps most strikingly exemplified by Square-Enix, who released Dragon Quest 9, a cultural phenomenon of a series in Japan, for the Nintendo DS rather than a home console for the first time. The game sold over 4 million copies in Japan, nearly reaching the entire install base of the PS3 in Japan as a result, and will be released in other territories later this year.

Japan is One Handheld Loving Country

When you look at system sales, you can see why Square and other Japanese companies have ramped up their handheld production. The Nintendo DS and PSP have sold just over 45 million units, while the 3 home consoles, the Wii, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 have sold about 17 million, a sizable difference. To put that in perspective, the numbers outside of Japan are handhelds – 143 million, home consoles – 130 million. Nearly 3-1 sales edge for handhelds in Japan, yet almost even outside of the country.

You have to then ask yourself, which came first, the chicken or the egg? Are Japanese developers flocking to handhelds because of these system sales, or do the system sales reflect the fact that more games, and specifically more Japanese games, are now on handhelds than on consoles?

What about sales? Surely the Japanese can’t be doing all that badly with Nintendo dominating the sales charts every week. And as far as Nintendo goes, there’s no doubt that they’re having little trouble selling games. In fact Nintendo is all but dominating the sales charts in 2010*, with the top 5 selling games of the year so far, and 12 of the top 50. After Nintendo though, things aren’t quite as rosy for Japan saleswise.

Inafune-san Just May be on to Something

In fact, not counting a couple of Sony-published games which weren’t actually developed in Japan, the SCE Santa Monica developed God of War 3, and the French-developed Heavy Rain, Square-Enix’s Final Fantasy 13 and Dragon Quest 6 are the only other Japanese games besides Nintendo’s offerings to crack the top 20. 21-30 is yet more of the same; 2 more Nintendo games, a Square-Enix Dragon Quest game, and a Sony game that was actually developed in America, Zipper Interactive’s MAG. Konami’s Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker is the only other exception to the trend.

The top 50 is nearly devoid of several major Japanese developers. Capcom has just one entry, Namco Bandai comes in with just one, and Sega manages just two, while Konami also has just a lone entry. Meanwhile, several Western companies hit the list multiple times, including Electronic Arts, Activision, THQ, Ubisoft, and Microsoft.

Whether this shift in global gaming power will continue is hard to determine. There’s no doubt game development is flourishing abroad, and that’s eating into Japan’s market share. The bigger question is, can Japan get out of its handheld funk, and back into prominent game making? And if it can’t, how much will this affect the PlayStation 4?

So is Japanese gaming dying? What reasons do you see for the current dearth of major console releases coming from Japan? Let us know your thoughts below!

*Game Sales courtesy VG Chartz (http://vgchartz.com/)

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Comments

Other than the consoles, what

Other than the consoles, what I think why jap games is going downhill is the game itself or change of consumer taste.

Jap games released in the U.S is different like the art, 2D stuff, story, a lot more fantasy. like hyperdimension neptunia, final fantasy series and the tales series. Most of jap games are rpg or adventure games.

People who are interested or into anime ,manga, or japanese culture would be interested to buy these types of games.

A lot of are games recycled with those cliches.

There are a bunch of japanese games being released in japan but not outside of it because it is totally different like visual novels and those simulation games where you have read a bunch of texts.

I think western consumers are more focused in games that are more modern, violent or shooting type games like call of duty, mass effect and halo.

Games made in U.S (to me) are more fast-paced and entertaining.

IDK

Pseudo Fantasy Sci-Fi

Japan need to go back to their roots.
Demon's Souls did that.
Dark Souls did that.

The defining mark was their game mechanic, their difficulty and their design approach.
They are the Tomb Raider 1 of the 21st Century.

Multiplayer Gaming in the guise of Military Simulation and Military backing that EA makes use of will quickly die out in the US as gamers get sick of real-world applications to improve a country's Military capacity by encouraging killing in a virtual world (and showing little difference in the real one).

This is speaking from the level of a cognitive "shunt" to the head from the point of view of marketing and public (gamer) awareness.

Japanese gaming is interesting in that their country suffered an apocalyptic event, and from that point of view, Japan have a stronger perception of its control in an art form without resorting to explicitly detailing it through violence.
It's the reason why Japan - even though in outside country's perceptions, they are stiffly emotionless - but their intent seems to be fluffy pink animals and embracing cultural cross-breeding in their personality profiles for their characters.

10 years from now, text like this will be vindicated.
For the moment, it will be simply derided.

Consumer demands versus Developer's resources

looking at it from a developer's perspective, you obviously have a hand held game that looks pretty less demanding than its console counterpart plus the demand is there . . . so why not jump ship . . .

not to mention, many new generation gamers are lazy and impatient. they like their food handed out to them. . . that's obviously not the jap way.

the game quality is killing JP gaming

I own a PS3 and Im very happy with it but Im not a hardcore loyal PS fan and say the PS3 has better graphics, they both are pretty much the same. Dont even get spec tech nerd with me I wont listen. The only reason I dont get a 360 is cuz I freaking hate the idea I have to pay to play only. I dont give a crap if your "service" is better than PSN, I refuse to pay for it so until its free Im not gonna buy the system. Anyways, the real reason I think for the JP slump is there games, here are the things that suck about them:
1. GRINDING - why are JP games sooooo full of this garbage? if they expect me to kill a billion monsters and waste my time in the same area doing the same thing just to get 1 stupid little thing in the game, you are F'ing out of your mind! Im looking at you "Lost Planet 2"
2. SUBSTANCE - i swear the Japanese have run out of ideas, I swear I have seen the same plot in a large number of JP games. Their RPG are all the same but wrapped in a different package.

The JP are just afraid to try new ground so they stick to the same tried and true equation. Sorry I grew up and demand more quality. Games that disappointed me: FF13 (traded it for GOW collection, will not buy FF13 sequal), Castlevania (man I had high hopes...) Bayonetta (pretty but damn the grinding...) Games I freaking love: Red Dead Redemption (GTA but in the old west. It has a little bit of grinding but its not not a JP game. If this was JP based I would have to kill 200 bears instead of 20 and with a dull knife)COD:Modern Warfare2, All the God of Wars.

Sorry but JP game quality in its current state is garbage. my 2 cents

also i'm glad that sony is

also i'm glad that sony is showing exactly why they've been the big dogs of gaming for 2 generations and i think just because bill is rich don't mean he should be buying every ps3 exclusive. also GTA4 wasn't a tie on graphics like gamespot said. ps3 clearly won that 1 while well no shine, dull and brand new roads on 360 version. besides don't you just love noticing that 360 racing games always look brand new while ps3 version always looks used up? sorry microsoft but you'll never find a perfectly untouched road in reality. and RE5 was a clear win for ps3. plus 360 version you must create a new profile and unlock your own guns on RE5, kinda lame for guest purposes. ps3 version you get to share your items unlockables weapons ammo etc with a visitor.

i agree. i had every sony

i agree. i had every sony console except a fat PSP. i only had the original slim PSP. but yeah sony games crushes any microsoft games. halo was a short addiction and reach looked faker than jak3. no offense but microsoft you need to improve the graphics because 360 games look as sad as my fun ps2 games. well not quite but almost that bad. i'll always be a fan of sony, but nintendo can we please get a system that's controller compatible? i miss the super nintendo and N64 days back when i had a controller. because of its only move system have i overlooked Wiis. but jw i still don't know why my old fat ps2 has usb ports. i kinda like fat ps2s over those weak slim 1s. oh and also make sure those fat ps4 don't trap in heat. i'll be watching the fat and slim ps4's flaws before i decide which 1 i'll bring home with a few games. probably naughtydog's since i like them more and ya nowadays i see people with 360 and ps3 prefer the ps3. in fact it got so bad that i saw ppl on PSN who sold their 360 for ps3.

i agree. i had every sony

i agree. i had every sony console except a fat PSP. i only had the original slim PSP. but yeah sony games crushes any microsoft games. halo was a short addiction and reach looked faker than jak3. no offense but microsoft you need to improve the graphics because 360 games look as sad as my fun ps2 games. well not quite but almost that bad. i'll always be a fan of sony, but nintendo can we please get a system that's controller compatible? i miss the super nintendo and N64 days back when i had a controller. because of its only move system have i overlooked Wiis. but jw i still don't know why my old fat ps2 has usb ports. i kinda like fat ps2s over those weak slim 1s. oh and also make sure those fat ps4 don't trap in heat. i'll be watching the fat and slim ps4's flaws before i decide which 1 i'll bring home with a few games. probably naughtydog's since i like them more and ya nowadays i see people with 360 and ps3 prefer the ps3. in fact it got so bad that i saw ppl on PSN who sold their 360 for ps3.

Future Game Developer

Hmm, you all make good point(s). Personally I love Sony, so I'll give my two cent worth support. I admit Xbox has good graphics and cool games but so does PS3. Besides though the tide of the Console Wars tends to tip its glass either way, Sony has been in the game alot longer when it comes to home consoles. By the way, there's more sales with handhelds because the world is a much busier place then it usd to be. Think about it there are more Casual gamers then there are Hardcore gamers because everyone is too busy. If you only have like 15 minutes then instead of playing Final Fantasy 13 or Modern Warfare which would require at least an hour of gameplay, you could just get your Nintendo DS or PsP and play a game on that. Also if your heading out the door you can only bring a handheld. Another note most people have cell phones with all these crazy Apps you can get, so it's more convenient to play something you can fit in your pocket. Anyway as for Japan, I'm a American who loves anything from them. Sony 4 Life!

Just sayin'

Considering the handheld vs. console discussion the answer is simple - pokemon 1 through 35 are only released to hanhelds!

ps3 Japanese Gaming Industry Dying

well i do agree with some points but you cant overlook the fact most people in the usa and others dont like or cant get into japanese games.
i know that the usa get very few of them and the ones we do get are more geared to the western style and i beleve that the japanese comp. need to take some risk to bring more of their games over seas or if not alow people buy imports that have been translated. but mostly i have to blame sony though for their sales cuz they overpriced the ps3 from the get go and now with the new ones at a higher gb and lower price(still a bit high) people cant afford them. more handhelds are sold cuz they are considerably cheaper than their console counter parts. plus those who bought the ps3 when it first came out are now feeling like sony slaped them in the face considering how low the system cost now vs when it was first sold. these are just my two cents and if sony is really planning to create the ps4 they should really wait a long while before trying to release that. right now they need to work on their console base by getting more good games to them rather then upgrading the systems with a larger hd when people can do that them selves. why dont sony just sell the hds separate rather than selling a whole system with the hd upgraded.

You're Not very bright are you?

You said yourself that you and most westerners cannot get into Jap games, so why would Jap dev waste thier resources getting those games to us? Also anybody holding a grudge on Sony for price drops obviously don't understand how consumer electtronics work. If I buy something the day that it comes out I fully expect others to be buying the same product most likely upgraded for cheaper prices that's just the way consumer electronics work. Also if Sony started selling official HDDs for the PS3 then they will only double the price for an HDD that is the same as one that you can buy in any best buy or walmart. Sony is actually doing people who don't understand this a favor by not selling "Official PS3 HDD". I personally think Sony is doing a great job here in the west. Iget all of the games I want and exclusives are great, I don't really care if they're not developed in Jap and actually I'm happy they're not in a way as Jap Devs seem to have a hard time moving past what they've alway done. Some of my favorite gaming memories are with the jap developed games, but times have changed and technology has skyrocketed, but jap devs just don't seem to move at the same pace on the software size. The hardware is wonderful, but it's the western devs taking advantage of the hardware. I could dicuss this all day, but I'm going to leave it at Sony you just keep pushing the hardware and having your western devs keep pushing the software and everything is good. Mosty of my xbot friends are moving to ps3 now that the ps3 is rolling out the awesome exclusives that everybody's been waiting for. Keep up the good work.

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