This latest jimquisition got me thinking and I realized there's a lot I have to say on the topic of Japanese publishers I haven't put all down in one place before. So here it is I guess.

In Capcom and Square's cases, it's all entirely about sales projections and a thorough misunderstanding of the western market on the part of their analytics people. They massively overprojected on estimates to make investors and higher ups feel good about western releases then threw devs under the bus for not meeting these ridiculous projections. games like DMC4 (one of the best selling launch games) were considered failures for not being several orders of magnitude bigger than any of their previous games had set precedent for.

Shinji mikami was told nobody liked Resident Evil: Remake because Capcom was told it would make more than it did, Tetsuya Mizuguchi made a cult classic in rez and only just recently discovered there was any following for his game at all whhen he said to a western journalist he was disappointed that nobody liked it. All of this because Japan's big publishers treat their talent like crap and let people who have no reasonable understanding of the west dictate their directives. 
In some ways that's a good thing because capcom and Square being shitty is why we sudden.y have a handful of great, fiercly independent Japanese devs like Mistwalker and Platinum, but is still sad because it leaves everyone still attatched to the publishers in the same, closed off, shitty boat. And it still managed to come over and bite at western developers too with Eidos putting out several blockbuster selling games and getting slammed by Square for not doing better than their already excellent performance while their Japanese division squandered time and money on the first version of FFIV (only to have the guy who fixed it, Yoshida present a scathing breakdown of all the mistakes made on the original at GDC.) 


Japanese publishers have been poisoned by their own arrogance coming out of the last generation and an obsession with statistics and analytics provided by people who play with the truth as it suits them. And it's taken them too long to start to break away from this and admit it. There's so many hurdles and mistakes to be avoided that we need to see, like is Capcom going to keep outsourcing games to western devs? If so, then this time when they sink millions into developing a cutting edge engine, are they going to bother providing english documentation (unlike MT framework) so the majority of their games can actually use it? Is Square going to pick up games almost entirely already made for them then complain they weren't profitable enough when they sell millions for investment like sleeping dogs again?



Japanese game developers have always been strong, but it's about time Japan started listening to the people in it's own industry who've been shouting for years about the mismanagement of these companies, because it's not just the west that's been pointing out the problems with them. Half the reason Sony has had the miraculous turn around they have over the last generation is because after the vita they stopped trying to dictate everything and actually started giving their US/European divisions a voice in the directions they take. I just hope it's not too little too late because there's great IPs and talented people that could be put to so much better use if they were only managed better and given more communication. While companies like Platinum will remain as lions of the industry that publishers and platformers will always find time to work with, the tradition of ignoring and mistreating it's most talented workers until they finally leave, in a culture where loyalty to your company is the expectation, will only continue to weaken publishers.





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Comment by Christopher Brady on April 15, 2014 at 8:30am

Uh, Devil May Cry 4 has been considered, by the fans, to be the worst game of the first series.

Comment by Rowan - AzureCantabile on April 15, 2014 at 8:33pm

That's a sweeping statement as the game is fairly divisve with a small following that adores said game, and the game that's far more widely agreed upon to b the worst of the series is 2. Furthermore I made no comment on it's quality, only that it's sales compared to previous DMC titles showed massive growth but was still deemed a failure despite selling excellently for a launch title.

Comment by Aaron B 12 hours ago

@Chris

Have you played DMC 2????

Comment by Christopher Brady 10 hours ago

I owned DMC 2.  But I've not played 4.  Mainly because Dante wasn't the main character.  I liked 2, but the combat pacing was much different.  3 was the best though.

I realize I should touch on the main topic:  Japanese Developers.

What most people in the West, namely us, don't realize is that to them, we don't matter.  At all.  Period.  The first and only market that they go for is Japan.  And so far, they seem quite happy with what they're getting.  For example, over in Japan, mobile gaming is HUGE.  As in full console styled games on top of puzzle and card battlers, with RPGs and even MMOs.  This is why Square is chasing it so hard, it makes billions of dollars every year.  But over here, we're lucky if something other than Angry Birds or Candy Crush Saga makes it onto the financial charts.

Worse according to the Japanese, all we care about in the West are sports games and shooters.  And given how much money the Western gamer market throws pointlessly at Call of Duty, Battlefield, FIFA or Madden every year, they would seem to be right.  CoD still breaks the Billion sales mark on it's own every year and has for almost a decade now.

Oh, we make mouth gestures at wanting new IPs and 'innovative' game play, but put a GTA clone with a new dress on (Watch Dogs), and we're already got it on our wishlist.  Hell, Destiny is a prime example.  Don't get me wrong, it's a fun, solid and more than competent shooter, but everything else that was hyped about it?  Nonexistent.  And yet, it shipped $500m worth of product and apparently sold more than $325m of it in the first FIVE DAYS.  Showing once again, that all we want is more of the same, even if the skin looks slightly different.

To Japan, that just reinforces their belief that we're 'fake gamers', to be mocked, like a lot of us do about those who play only the CoD or BF franchises, and thrown their gaming trash.  Which we get, and often we like it, as their 'trash games' can be pretty entertaining (Katamari Damacy anyone?)

As for people complaining about say, Resident Evil losing touch with it's audience.  Well, I hate to break it to you all, but the fact that it came out it was not only the top selling game for PS3 in Japan for two months, it was top of the Japanese gaming charts for those two months, as well.  So to Capcom, they gave exactly what their true and first audience wanted.  The West can go blow their opinions out their ear holes, Capcom doesn't care.

Nintendo is in the same boat.  The only thing is that they're also tanking in Japan, not just the West.

(For the record, the term You is meant as a general, not specific person reading this.)

Comment by Rowan - AzureCantabile 3 hours ago

Well, the DMC4 quality topic was fairly irrelevant to the article anyway. I was talking about how sales for a launch game were incredible and beyond any reasonable expectations, yet still below what Capcom had projected for it, and what many Japanese publishers still do which is set sales targets that few games ever reach, due to their longstanding issue of massively overestimating sales in the west. Fan reactions after the fact to a game don't usually manifest in the opening of it's sales and are usually felt more by the following title. And while DMC4 isn't a great game, it's still far above 2 and has fans of it's own, as well as far greater sales than any previous DMC game, and the growth in sales between it and DMC3 SHOULD OF BEEN fortuitous, to any reasonable company.

Japanese companies put Japanese companies first, but Capcom has always had a strong vested interest in the western market, allowing the majority of your games to be developed by western studios is a sign of that, they've been trying to make a fstrong foothold in the west for the entire previous generation, the issue is that they've mis-understood the market at every turn and bled their best talent over the years to the point that every single director of note, save Yoshinori Ono, has left the company and started their own studio years ago. 

Comment by Christopher Brady 3 hours ago

And yet, Dead Rising 3, is a shooter involving zombies.

Comment by Rowan - AzureCantabile 3 hours ago

Originally developed by a Japanese team and handed off to a canadian one. Then there's games like Remember Me coming in collaboration with a Paris based studio and Hideaki Itsuno saying that while they won't wholly outsource as many games, there's no IP in their stable they wouldn't consider collaborating on. Capcom is stepping away from outsourcing as heavily as they had before, but you can't say that the west is a total afterthought to them when they rely on the west to make games like Dragon's Dogma actually hit their projected sales for a change.

I think making such blanket statements about "Japanese developers" rather than particular groups or individuals is a bit shortsighted. Publishers have absolutely always viewed the west through a warped looking glass of analysts and marketing people, but devs like Inafune have wholly embraced their western fans after going it alone.

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