Japan studios cannot compete with the investment and manpower used by many Western game developers, claims Platinum Games writer Jean Pierre Kellams.
Kellams, who has worked on games such as Vanquish, said he felt developers in the country didn’t create “exceptional” titles, and struggled to find a way to compete with its North America and Europe-based rivals. particularly in the triple-A sector
“The problems with Japanese games aren’t that they are Japan games or that they are Westernised games,” he said on Twitter, as reported by Siliconera.
“The problems with Japan games are simple: Most of them aren’t very good games. People don’t buy those. Most games from anywhere aren’t good. That’s why exceptional means exceptional.
“Most Japanese publishers/developers can’t invest money/manpower enough to compete with exceptional Western productions. Risk is too high. It costs money and sweat to make things stand out, but it also raises the risk. Then marketing is crazy expensive after that.”
Kellams added that one area where Japan developers needed to improve was in creating a better connection between a game and its users.
He said studios often underestimated the audience’s intelligence, and took great lengths to explain all of a game’s minute details, greatly slowing down the player’s experience.
“Where Japanese games need to get better is reducing friction,” he explained.
“If we have the best ideas, we need to make sure you don’t have to wonder why. Friction means you need to look at a character and identify with what that character is supposed to represent. Friction means never underestimating the intelligence of your audience.
“Culturally, Japanese design is about being inclusive. They don’t want anyone left behind, so they will add friction to an experience. Except then you move at the pace of the slowest one in a group. It bogs the experience down for people who already get it.”
The Vanquish writer believed however that one Japan developer that was able to get it right was console giant Nintendo.
"Nintendo games are so awesome and so successful because they are some of the most friction free games in the world," he said.