Acclaimed Japanese developer Keita Takahashi has echoed Keiji Inafune’s recent claim that the Japanese development sector is struggling to thrive.
At this year’s Tokyo Game Show, Inafune surprised onlookers by expressing his view that Japan was “finished” – a telling outburst at a time when the global game industry continues to champion western franchises.
In an interview with Develop, Takahashi – who has gained a reputation for creating two wildly eccentric and quintessentially Japanese games – was sympathetic to Inafune’s view.
"I do understand to a certain degree that the industry as a whole is pretty much going downhill in Japan," he said.
Takahashi admitted that it was difficult to pinpoint the reasons behind Japan’s current predicament, though was quick to condemn "pretty much all the publishers" who are "after the money".
Said Takahashi: "Videogames are seen as a business overall. That’s definitely a reason why Japan is in decline.
"Essentially, everything has become too big; the markets are too big, the companies which develop games are too big, and the publishers are too big when compared to the heydays of the industry.”
He also suggested that problems occur due to the demands of the game audience itself, who "always expect something to be put in front of them."
"Content is more driven by [demand] rather than ideas," he said. "So we don’t see many people coming out with brand new ideas, which is why the market is saturated at the moment."
Takahashi’s comments were not mere vitriol, however. The Namco-Bandai contracted developer offered a solution to what he perceives as a saturated, problematically globalised industry, yet it’s the kind of solution that would no doubt face heavy opposition from the likes of Capcom and Square Enix.
"I think one solution is to split the big international companies into different sectors,” he said, “and make each sector focused on the market they’re based in."
Elsewhere in the interview, Takahashi speaks of his disappointment with Noby Noby Boy, his ideas for new games, and the playground he’s building. He also reveals for the first time that he would like to work with a western developer.