Comcept founder and game design luminary Keiji Inafune has warned Japanese developers that time is running short for them to ‘save’ their nation’s games industry.
In striking GDC talk titled ‘The Future of Japanese Games’ the former Capcom global head of production claimed that Japanese studios have lost a desire to thrive, and that the country’s games industry is resting on past laurels to a point of self destruction.
"There is a conscience and desire to Win missing," Inafune said, speaking through a translator. "We, the Japanese, have forgotten all about that. Back in the day we grew used to winning.
"At some point these winners became loosers, and not acknowledging or accepting that has lead to the tragic fate of Japanese games."
The sentiments echo those expressed in Inafune’s infamous 2009 TGS address, which delivered a damning appraisal of the nation’s development sector. In the seminal presentation Inafune lamented the lack of high-profile Japanese titles and progress the sector was making as a whole.
"The Japanese games industry has become like a frog in a well. It is very closed minded," he said at this year’s GDC."
But his talk was not without a solution to save the Japanese games industry.
"There is something you must do to win," he told the audience, in a speech aimed directly at Japanese studios. "You must acknowledge your loss, and start over again. We are humans, and have our own pride, but we cannot win if we keep that pride up.
"We must believe ‘I will win’."
Inafune also admitted embarrassment when traveling overseas, where he claimed Japanese games are now seen as a ‘blast from the past’.
The Mega Man creator believes Japanese studios rely too heavily on past successes.
"They are now just great, great memories," he lamented.
Arguing that humankind is too keen to opt for an easy route if used to success, he encouraged Japanese developers to be prepared to challenge themselves, be determined, and do everything they can to once again establish Japan as a leading power in games creation.
He also asked Japanese developers to consider not just relying on existing brands and reputations, but to develop and push those brands.
"If you pour a lot of effort into a game with a brand what happens?," Inafune asked, before giving his own answer: "Easy. You will be that much of a success."
He later added: "Perhaps the folks who are now running the show in the Japanese games industry are those who simply jumped on a bandwagon. The creations that measured up to global standards were crafted by our predecessors."
He encouraged his countrymen to take inspiration from Apple’s move to develop their brand and move on from desktop computers.
"The Japanese video games industry must realise the need to develop our brands, and me must do so now. It will be too late when our brands have no equity left," Inafune warned. "Time is running out. We should have realised this when I made those statements two years ago.
"What I know for sure is that I will win. I will take on hardships to win."
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