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R.I.P. Japan Games Industry

Posted: Fri Feb 18, 2011 11:02 am
by DaFool ... p#comments
the far more likely scenario, is that this one two punch of new expensive platforms [Nintendo 3DS, Sony NGP] making the last refuge of domestic development obsolete will be like a trap door swinging open under the already fledgling Japanese development community and that market will see a cataclysmic collapse.
I can already see a future where the only english anime games we get will be OELs. Oh, the horror! :P

Re: R.I.P. Japan Games Industry

Posted: Fri Feb 18, 2011 5:34 pm
The situation in Japan is pretty bad. However, I doubt there will be a big impact on niche, low budget stuff like visual novels.

OTOH, RPGs and strategy games (which have been increasingly tailored for a tiny otaku audience) are likely to fade even further into obscurity.

Re: R.I.P. Japan Games Industry

Posted: Fri Feb 18, 2011 6:06 pm
by DaFool
The sad part is that most Japanese game companies make games the way they should be made -- with the independent spirit of an arthouse approach.
We often read that the CEO also wrote the scenario or designed the characters or composed the music in the game... that definitely sounds like a bunch of guys going "Hey, we're doing this for fun. Since I'm the project leader I guess that makes me the CEO, you're the CTO I suppose, etc." That's why it's such a fine line between doujin circle and professionals over there, unlike in the West.

It's definitely different from the western approach where people who don't even have exposure to games get hired from (the auto industry, airline industry, whatever) to take up vice president of marketing, etc.
He refers to 100,000 as being a "mini smash hit."
Those numbers are usually not enough to justify a western localization. I've read numbers such as 250K being tossed as the minimum to break even on localization costs (e.g. for a Tales title). The only one risking it is NIS America.

Regarding low budget stuff such as visual novels, RPGs, strategy, they're actually closer together than you think. SRPGs such as Utawarerumono, Tears to Tiara, and plenty of Planet Stronghold / Wizardry - style first-person battle RPGs are essentially just really fancy visual novels with gameplay mechanics and slightly higher budgets. In fact even sites like Siliconera attempted to lump Agarest War (a well-known console title) as belonging to essentially the same bunch.

Adding a battlemechanic is the common next step in advancing in the game hierarchy (if we consider visual novels as on the bottom of the pile; barely being "games") as long as you have a competent programmer. The biggest jump in budget would actually be 3D... that's why it took so long for GUST to make the leap.

Re: R.I.P. Japan Games Industry

Posted: Fri Feb 18, 2011 10:04 pm
This is because (most) people only think about graphics when making and playing games... (I don't mean VN, but video games).

Still preoccupied with 1985

Posted: Fri Feb 18, 2011 10:22 pm
by gekiganwing
It's been a few years since the western video games industry all but collapsed. Every now and then, there's small crashes. And fans are usually quick to predict which trends they're sure will lead to nothing good (too much emphasis on grimdark or dudebro games, too much emphasis on low budget casual games...)

That said, I honestly don't know where video games are going these days. The cute and unusual eastern games that I like are still getting made, but professional translations are still rare. I guess we'll have to wait and see what happens with 3DS and the PSP successor. Maybe eastern game development will shift over to internationally accessible mobile devices, or move toward computers (especially indies).

Also, I've been disinterested in most of today's high budget western games, and have only been paying attention to a few oddball or indie games. I don't feel that I've been an outsider in western video game fandom for years, especially over the last decade.

Re: R.I.P. Japan Games Industry

Posted: Sat Feb 19, 2011 10:59 pm
by musical74
This is because (most) people only think about graphics when making and playing games... (I don't mean VN, but video games).
This is why I don't care for so many games being made now... Grahpics only. Sure there are exceptions, but I'll pass on 90% of the games being made now (except here!) because it's all about graphics, the heck with plot.

Re: R.I.P. Japan Games Industry

Posted: Sun Feb 20, 2011 1:22 am
I think graphics is already enough nowadays. I really love Valkyria Chronicles (from all 1 to 3) and I think I don't need anything fancier than that. FFXIII is more than enough and MGS 4 graphics is already overkill. Crysis 2 is another example of true beauty of 3D CGI.

So enough graphics, now let's focus on gameplay and creativity.

From the article, I think the problem lies on handheld/portable console that have PS3 graphics capability. Perhaps NDS graphics is somewhat lacking (though I absolutely love 2D games in NDS). PSP is already enough as it is...

I think Sony and Nintendo really dig their own grave. If Japan video game industry really crash... oh well, it's alright I think. Just wait another 10 years... and meanwhile, let's play western games.

Re: R.I.P. Japan Games Industry

Posted: Sun Feb 20, 2011 3:11 am
In Japan, another problem is the lack of fresh blood. Among younger people (i.e. those born during the 1980s), not many are interested in joining the industry.

Re: R.I.P. Japan Games Industry

Posted: Sun Feb 20, 2011 3:29 am
by DaFool
Yeah there was another Gamasutra article many months ago showing how amazed Japanese producers are at the motivated foreign work-study people compared to their native talent.

If we think about it most of the recent noteable doujin works by people like ZUN and Ryukishi07... if I'm not mistaken even they are in their thirties / approaching forties!

Re: R.I.P. Japan Games Industry

Posted: Sun Feb 20, 2011 4:36 am
Why there aren't many Japanese want to work at video games industry? While there are sooo many westerners that want to work at that industry (too many that it creates too-tight competition in securing jobs).

Re: R.I.P. Japan Games Industry

Posted: Sun Feb 20, 2011 10:54 am
by papillon
Perhaps they have the good sense to prefer jobs that actually pay well and don't involve 80-hour workweeks? :)

The Western mainstream game industry is pretty hellish to work in by most accounts, and survives by taking in crops of excited young newbies willing to work for peanuts, exhausting them, and then getting a new crop. Or so I hear.

Re: R.I.P. Japan Games Industry

Posted: Sun Feb 20, 2011 10:41 pm
But from what I hear too, some studios take cares their employees (even the new one) pretty well. And if you're in that business long enough, things could get better... But yes, video games business is a very hard world (well, everyone wants to work in that field, so it's to be expected).

Re: R.I.P. Japan Games Industry

Posted: Mon Feb 28, 2011 9:03 pm
by kinougames
These kinds of articles come out all the time and they're all fairly full of guesswork and not really substantial long-term. I don't bother to trust them. There was that article about casual games killing all other types of gaming when that's basically been proven to be completely idiotic.

The problem with Japanese doujin games and translating is a few things. For one, doujin games in Japan made extremely well sell for double and triple what even console games sell for here. My favorite game last sold for something like 8800 yen before they stopped producing it to make room for new games, which all sell for 6500+ yen. Pretty much NO video games in America sell for $70-$100 unless they have more than one disc or some kind of extra equipment, and that's on console. To get these games in English, there are two roads; doing it from the get-go, which is useless and not at all cost effective on a small doujin company when the mass bulk of sales is in Japan, and getting paid to license it to a Western company.

But, when these games are licensed and translated, they're basically being bought for a massive price and sold for half price or less, in addition to all the translating and re-coding fees and packaging fees and the way the yen is killing USD at like 83 yen to a dollar, which usually drives licensing companies down hard and fast, in addition to them usually hiring cheap translators who make amateur mistakes (if I can catch the mistake, it's amateur).

Simply put...anime-story games are most popular in the country of its origin and that isn't changing. It basically becomes a decision for a lot of doujin groups to try to cater to people who won't spend for the quality and are less likely to become lifetime fans, or instead save their translation and asset money and do better art that they can sell in their own country for more based on quality.