Keiji Inafune To Japanese Devs: "Don’t Rest On Your Laurels"

Hyro-Sama

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Former Capcom executive Keiji Inafune took the stage at Game Developer’s Conference to discuss the future of Japanese games. While he was still at Capcom, Inafune was critical of Japan’s place in the video game market saying "Japan is dead" during Tokyo Game Show in 2010.

"I said those words to light a fire under the Japanese video game industry before it was too late," Inafune recounted. He painted a grim picture doing his talk emphasizing how Japan lost its will to win and developers have relied too long on nostalgia. "The Beatles were great… but the four Beatles will never get together and make another album," said Inafune when he was talking about how Japanese games were considered by some to be a blast from the past. "We stick to our memories." Inafune said how developers in Japan up rez games and ship out HD versions.

"The fans have expectations, but they don’t just want Mega Man. They want something more," Inafune said hoping to get the audience to understand that they cannot just rely on established brands. He made a comparison to Apple which used to be a computer company and if they relied on sales of products like the Apple II they wouldn’t be around today. Inafune said developers neglected to create something new perhaps because people now running the show jumped in on the bandwagon while Japan was driving out hit after hit.

During development of Mega Man Legends, Inafune’s first game as a producer, he said the 3D title much beloved by fans had many challenges. The Mega Man series was on a down turn and expectations for the game were not high. Press wasn’t interested in covering the game too, Inafune said. "Putting aside the quality, the game [Legends] was a failure from a sales perspective." After working on Legends, Inafune transferred to the Resident Evil team and worked on Resident Evil 2, a sequel to a surprise hit. "At one point Resident Evil [the first game in the series] was canceled," Inafune reminisced. "Nobody believed it would be a success except [Shinji] Mikami."

Inafune stressed he wants to take the "hard road" with his two companies, Comcept (concept planning) and Intercept (game development). He could have stayed at Capcom, but according to Inafune that would have been the easy road. Comcept now has 20 employees and a pig mascot seen in the slides below.

His message, however, felt lost by some members in the audience. After stressing the importance of not simply relying on brands, the first question Inafune got was about Capcom’s handling of Mega Man and how fans felt "betrayed." Inafune no longer works at Capcom or makes decisions about the Blue Bomber’s future. "As with yourselves and fans around the world I am concerned about Mega Man’s future," Inafune answered.

But, Inafune’s entire talk wasn’t about Mega Man or established brands. His take home message to Japanese developers was "we need to think about more than just maintaining brands."




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EDIT: Could a mod please fix the title? Thanks.
 

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"He made a comparison to Apple which used to be a computer company and if they relied on sales of products like the Apple II they wouldn’t be around today."

Thought this was funny since about 10-20 years from now, this statement will be the exact opposite.

Otherwise, DEFINITELY XENOPHOBIC JAPANESE GAMES ARE THE BEST.

EDIT: And I tried changing the title but it just won't change for whatever reason. I seriously have no goddamn clue.
 

Qtis

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Make me a Mass Effect type game and I'm sold. The story is the main point why I pre-ordered the thing. Same can't be said for many games around (Japanese or Western).

Lately more and more Western games have interested me when a few years back it was quite the opposite. Sure I buy my Marios and the likes, but they tend to be just a small fraction of the available content. And those games are mainly because I liked them when I was kindergarden aged.. Oh the times..
 

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Buying games for storyline is a load of shit. People buy games for gamplay more than story. I don't buy KH games b/c I enjoy the story. I buy them b/c I enjoy the gameplay. Same goes other games I buy.
 
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DS1

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Buying games for storyline is a load of shit. People buy games for gamplay more than story. I don't buy KH games b/c I enjoy the story. I buy them b/c I enjoy the gameplay. Same goes other games I buy.

No man, some people really just buy games for the story. I have lots of friends who complain that they have to play a game, and can't just skip to the story. That's why games like Heavy Rain get popular. I'm with you though, I'd rather have a game than a story (sans visual novels like Phoenix Wright or Infinite Space... arguably).

edit - my personal opinion of this whole thing is what it always has been: Inafune is a fool. Instead of jumping ship and trying to make his own garbage, he should have joined on with one of the many companies still making interesting games (like Acquire). Good luck to him, and keep fueling the hate.
 

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Buying games for storyline is a load of shit. People buy games for gamplay more than story. I don't buy KH games b/c I enjoy the story. I buy them b/c I enjoy the gameplay. Same goes other games I buy.

I wouldn't be so sure. Mass Effect (the first one) is a shit game with a great story. The gameplay is playable but I can hardly sing anymore praises for it. The story, on the other hand, is a monumental endeavor for RPGs everywhere.

There's also games like Phoenix Wright which honestly have some really dumb gameplay (court scenes are a load of bullshit logic) but everyone likes them for the story. I don't but others do.
 
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Foxi4

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Make me a Mass Effect type game and I'm sold. The story is the main point why I pre-ordered the thing. Same can't be said for many games around (Japanese or Western).

Lately more and more Western games have interested me when a few years back it was quite the opposite. Sure I buy my Marios and the likes, but they tend to be just a small fraction of the available content. And those games are mainly because I liked them when I was kindergarden aged.. Oh the times..
While I agree to a certain extent, you have to keep in mind that Mario is not exactly the pinnacle of the Japanese video game industry - they have a whole lot to offer. You can't expect them to deliver a Mass Effect type game because they have a completely different culture. It's the same in all aspects of popular art - you have comics, they have manga, you have "cartoons" and they have anime and so on and so forth.

I believe that what Keiji wanted to say is that the Japanese developers are only re-hashing ideas nowadays - they take a video game concept that is tried and true, such as an action game or an RPG, give it a paintjob of new characters and plot and re-sell it. When you scrape off the pretty outer layer you slowly realize that alot of Japanese games are essentially the same. It's even more apparent when you consider games that were released by the same developer.

He's calling developers to be more passionate about their jobs, and I can understand that. That said, we only get to enjoy a fraction of what the Japanese developers have to offer, we shouldn't be the judges here.
 
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Hyro-Sama

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I guess buying games for story explains the people who bought Final Fantasy X & XIII.

Off-Topic: Ampersand is finally gone. Thank you, Guild.
 

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Saying people don't play games for the storyline is one of the most ignorant things I've ever seen you say, Hyro. A lot of games are played for either storyline, or both storyline and gameplay. Unfortunately for you, yes, Kingdom Hearts is one of the games. Which is sad, because Kingdom Hearts' story isn't all that great. Maybe people who only play multiplayer FPS's don't play for storyline, but other games are.

Otherwise games like Pheonix Wright, Devil Survivor, Heavy Rain, 999, and others I either don't know about or haven't played would never sell. So, obviously, you're wrong, and that is a fact.

But yes, I do think game developers need to start experimenting more, and stop relying on name alone(Looking at you, Western FPS devs). Both Western and Eastern devs. Not just one.
 
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notmeanymore

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Buying games for storyline is a load of shit. People buy games for gamplay more than story. I don't buy KH games b/c I enjoy the story. I buy them b/c I enjoy the gameplay. Same goes other games I buy.

Bro. I dig the KH story. But I agree it's not JUST for the story either. The KH gameplay is fun, and, back to what you were referencing, Mass Effect's popularity isn't actually in its story, but its storytelling. Being able to make subtle changes in the behaviors of characters, letting the player choose the dialog, etc.
 
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Just because there is a decent story doenst mean I will play the game. I usually get a game because of fun mechanics or other things. If there is a good story buried there, good, maybe it will help me gain momentum in the game. But if that's the only thing moving me forward? There is almost no point playing.
 

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Just because there is a decent story doenst mean I will play the game. I usually get a game because of fun mechanics or other things. If there is a good story buried there, good, maybe it will help me gain momentum in the game. But if that's the only thing moving me forward? There is almost no point playing.
I could not agree more. Games will be games - their basic purpose is to entertain by means of providing a fair challenge to the player. A game has to keep its contents in balance, but "story" is important only in certain genres while in others it is completely obselete. I could name dozens of games that literally have no stories to tell and are still enjoyable to play.

Game mechanics are above all the motor of gaming. If a game isn't enjoyable to play or is vague and inconsistent about its own rules, no ammount of storytelling will make it good, it might get a medal for trying hard at best. If I wanted to know a compelling story, I'd grab a book or a movie. From a game I expect entertainment, first and foremost.
 
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Guild McCommunist

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Off-Topic: Ampersand is finally gone. Thank you, Guild.

Thank tj cool actually, he found the issue ;)

Just because there is a decent story doenst mean I will play the game. I usually get a game because of fun mechanics or other things. If there is a good story buried there, good, maybe it will help me gain momentum in the game. But if that's the only thing moving me forward? There is almost no point playing.

I mean a story is just one part of it, but it certainly helps. A lot of people will find a story centric game with a bad story to be a bad game. It can play fine, but the fact that you have to deal with a bad story is just annoying. On the other hand, if it's mediocre in gameplay but strong in story, people will still enjoy it. As I said before, Mass Effect is a great story centric game but it's a terrible TPS.
 

Gundam Eclipse

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You know what I want?
Atlus and Bioware to co-develop a game :V Get the best of both worlds(Say, get some awesome badass stuff from the SMT games, that is, elements, not the story itself, and the same from various Bioware games).
welp, that's probably an impossible and most likely stupid dream V:
 

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Just because there is a decent story doenst mean I will play the game. I usually get a game because of fun mechanics or other things. If there is a good story buried there, good, maybe it will help me gain momentum in the game. But if that's the only thing moving me forward? There is almost no point playing.

I mean a story is just one part of it, but it certainly helps. A lot of people will find a story centric game with a bad story to be a bad game. It can play fine, but the fact that you have to deal with a bad story is just annoying. On the other hand, if it's mediocre in gameplay but strong in story, people will still enjoy it. As I said before, Mass Effect is a great story centric game but it's a terrible TPS.
TBH I really think it's a matter of the genre more then a general rule. For example, a huge RPG fan will be capable of overlooking certain glitches or bugs if he's offered a pleasant role-playing experience while an FPS fan will be capable of overlooking a story that makes little sense if the game is just an extraordinary shooter. Each genre has a balance that it needs to achieve to be considered good and what makes it worse is that this level of balance is arbitrary and mobile, changing from generation to generation. Some amazing achievement in one game may rise the bar for all the others.

Still, that said, nobody wants to play a "broken" game. The mechanics are on the top shelf in most genres simply because badly-written mechanics are frustrating to deal with while a story can be boring at worst.

You know what I want?
Atlus and Bioware to co-develop a game :V Get the best of both worlds(Say, get some awesome badass stuff from the SMT games, that is, elements, not the story itself, and the same from various Bioware games).
welp, that's probably an impossible and most likely stupid dream V:
No offense, but this could go either of two ways - it could be really amazing or it could become an inconsistent and grotesque abomination. :P

I don't think the west truly "gets" Japan, for some their creations are entertaining, for others dull, but they feel "native" to nobody except the japanese.
 

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You know what I want?
Atlus and Bioware to co-develop a game :V Get the best of both worlds(Say, get some awesome badass stuff from the SMT games, that is, elements, not the story itself, and the same from various Bioware games).
welp, that's probably an impossible and most likely stupid dream V:
No offense, but this could go either of two ways - it could be really amazing or it could become an inconsistent and grotesque abomination. :P

I don't think the west truly "gets" Japan, for some their creations are entertaining, for others dull, but they feel "native" to nobody except the japanese.
That's probably true :V
There would be quite a few art related problems as well >> Not sure if I want to see the result of JP art styles colliding with western styles, the thought is simultaneously interesting and absolutely terrifying D:
 
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Foxi4

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You know what I want?
Atlus and Bioware to co-develop a game :V Get the best of both worlds(Say, get some awesome badass stuff from the SMT games, that is, elements, not the story itself, and the same from various Bioware games).
welp, that's probably an impossible and most likely stupid dream V:
No offense, but this could go either of two ways - it could be really amazing or it could become an inconsistent and grotesque abomination. :P

I don't think the west truly "gets" Japan, for some their creations are entertaining, for others dull, but they feel "native" to nobody except the japanese.
That's probably true :V
There would be quite a few art related problems as well >> Not sure if I want to see the result of JP art styles colliding with western styles, the thought is simultaneously interesting and absolutely terrifying D:
Just imagine Mass Effect with HUEG animu eyes and HUEG guns and swords and you're pretty much there.

I shiver at the thought of it. :P
 

DS1

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You know what I want?
Atlus and Bioware to co-develop a game :V Get the best of both worlds(Say, get some awesome badass stuff from the SMT games, that is, elements, not the story itself, and the same from various Bioware games).
welp, that's probably an impossible and most likely stupid dream V:
No offense, but this could go either of two ways - it could be really amazing or it could become an inconsistent and grotesque abomination. :P

I don't think the west truly "gets" Japan, for some their creations are entertaining, for others dull, but they feel "native" to nobody except the japanese.
That's probably true :V
There would be quite a few art related problems as well >> Not sure if I want to see the result of JP art styles colliding with western styles, the thought is simultaneously interesting and absolutely terrifying D:
Just imagine Mass Effect with HUEG animu eyes and HUEG guns and swords and you're pretty much there.

I shiver at the thought of it. :P

LOL, Phantasy Star Online

err... PS Portable, rather, because they make you make decisions every 10 seconds
 

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