NO, F*CK YOU! (the East vs. West debate)

 Me and my fellow interwebian, Harhol, often have heated debates on things that don't matter, mainly video games.  What started as a simple link exchange turned into a full blown debate on the state of Eastern game companies in comparison to Western companies.  It's not pretty but people don't discuss this sort of stuff nearly enough without going into trolling territory.  BTW, I'm the good guy (vote for me!)


                        vs.                        


         Allistair Everett                                                                  Harhol Scottercoch

(hides behind a cute avatar....pussy!)                                (needs a "make me not

                                                                                                          look like a rapist"

                                                                                                         Photoshop plug-in)

 


Allistair: Andrew Fitch, 1up.com's once JRPG expert, takes aim at industry politics being the reason why Cross Edge disappoints (his words not mine) in his recent Bitmob article. He echoes some of my complaints about Japanese games I shared with you not long ago, except now it's well written and supported by actual research.

Harhol: You consider a 700 word blog post which ends with the words "a lot of this is educated guessing on my part" to be something which is "supported by actual research"? He's basically rehashing tired & patronizing oriental stereotypes ("oh they're so regimented and homogenous!") and using them to justify his dislike of two(!) multi-dev collaborations, one of which is unlike anything seen before. Cross Edge might be utter shit but its originality is unquestionable, so I don't know why he uses it as an example of creativity being "sabotaged" by bureaucracy, especially when he basically admits to knowing nothing about the development of the game. Cross Edge is a game which displays considerable creativity & originality. This is inarguable-the battle system and overworld gameplay are brand new. If it is terrible then you can only blame the developers, not men in suits.

 Life ain't nothing but roguelikes and bitches to Mr. Fitch.

Allistair: Fitch is writing about his own experiences working with Konami and drawing conclusions. This is an industry he knows and loves, and like you he loves JRPGs--that's practically all he covered in his years working for 1UP. Saying the same shit happens in America is a null point, since he doesn't mention the rest of the world in the article. He's just drawing conclusions on why so many JRPGs are struggling these days. It's not research but his article is anecdotal more than speculative.


Harhol: Corporate bureaucracy is a huge problem across the industry. Singling out Japan for criticism is frankly ridiculous given the quantity of new IPs and bizarre oddities it continues to contribute year upon year. Do a side-by-side comparison of East and West and the former destroys the latter in terms of humour, charm, creativity & originality-no Japanese developer or publisher is as cynical & uncreative as EA or Activision. The fact that he puts the success of Kingdom Hearts down to the financial backing of an American company is laughable and borderline racist.


Allistair: I think it's silly to call it racist. I admit the article is more of a conversation starter then a declaration of any sort, which is why I liked it. He's commenting on how Japanese companies are run, in general. He never claims to know the specifics of each project, and really that stuff is behind the point. He is talking about how Japanese developers often feel their creativity is dismissed in the hands of the suits. I say suits but really these are just businessmen who are trying to run a business, if the last Resident Evil sold well they will keep making and selling them. The difference between East and West in this respect is that personalities hold more weight than sales figures with American companies. If Cliffy B wants to ditch Gears of War, he will.


CliffyB: 5% sell out, 95% Ryan Reynolds?

 

Harhol: Several western franchises have been continued for money-making purposes despite the wishes of their original creators-Thief, Deus Ex, Fallout, Tomb Raider, Bioshock, Prince of Persia, God of War, Medal of Honor etc. Sequelitis is an industry-wide problem. I also disagree that personalities hold more weight in the West. Almost all of the industry's current big-name personalities are Japanese and the majority of them are in charge of their own studio. A number of high-profile western personalities (Mechner, Spector, Carmack, Romero, Garriott, Jaffe, Trenz, McGee, Tørnquist, Cecil) are either out of work, stuck in development hell or retired. Other than Molyneux, Cliffy & Cage I can't think of any who are active right now.


Allistair: I have to point to Jeremy Parish's EGM feature, "The Rise and Fall (And Rise?) of Japan" where he interviewed many of the industry's giants, from Capcom's Keiji Inafune (Dead Rising, Mega Man) to legendary game designers like Kenji Eno (Rez, D). All of them had the same thing to say, that Japan has fallen behind and now companies are being re-inspired by the west.


I think Inafune says it most clearly here, "In Japan, a game developer only coexists with publishers as a single company, while many U.S. game software groups are independent. In the U.S., there's free compettion between developers, which results in better products."


Harhol: I don't see this as a bad thing. What matters to me is whether games are good or not. SCEJ may be a giant corporate behemoth but it still produces games like Echochrome, Trash Panic, Patapon, Loco Roco and Piyotama, all of which can be considered "indie" in spirit.


Patapon AKA Adobe Illustrator the Game

 

Allistair: It's still a struggle over there and we have yet to see a great Japanese indie title like Braid or Flower. Even more importantly, it seems very few leaders come to the forefront in Japan while only in the past year have literate gamers learned the names Jonathan Blow, Jonathan Mak, and Phil Fish.


Harhol: Well if there are no indie developers then how can there be indie games? Seems a little harsh. Blow is fairly high-profile because of his ceaseless rants against piracy but the other two aren't well known at all (I hadn't heard of Fish and I doubt anyone else on this site has). I don't think namedropping the designer of your favourite games makes them a "leader" all of a sudden. As I said above, the vast majority of industry personalities (or "leaders") are Japanese. And I'd also disagree that there haven't been any great indie Japanese games-Cave Story is the obvious pick but if you're into shmups (particularly bullet hell) then there are studios like ABA, Orange Juice, Studio Siesta and Team Shanghai Alice putting out dozens of quality titles. Just because something isn't on PSN or XBLA it doesn't mean it doesn't exist....


Allistair: ...Fuck you.


Harhol: No, fuck you!

11 Comments
12 Comments
Posted by LonelySpacePanda

 Me and my fellow interwebian, Harhol, often have heated debates on things that don't matter, mainly video games.  What started as a simple link exchange turned into a full blown debate on the state of Eastern game companies in comparison to Western companies.  It's not pretty but people don't discuss this sort of stuff nearly enough without going into trolling territory.  BTW, I'm the good guy (vote for me!)


                        vs.                        


         Allistair Everett                                                                  Harhol Scottercoch

(hides behind a cute avatar....pussy!)                                (needs a "make me not

                                                                                                          look like a rapist"

                                                                                                         Photoshop plug-in)

 


Allistair: Andrew Fitch, 1up.com's once JRPG expert, takes aim at industry politics being the reason why Cross Edge disappoints (his words not mine) in his recent Bitmob article. He echoes some of my complaints about Japanese games I shared with you not long ago, except now it's well written and supported by actual research.

Harhol: You consider a 700 word blog post which ends with the words "a lot of this is educated guessing on my part" to be something which is "supported by actual research"? He's basically rehashing tired & patronizing oriental stereotypes ("oh they're so regimented and homogenous!") and using them to justify his dislike of two(!) multi-dev collaborations, one of which is unlike anything seen before. Cross Edge might be utter shit but its originality is unquestionable, so I don't know why he uses it as an example of creativity being "sabotaged" by bureaucracy, especially when he basically admits to knowing nothing about the development of the game. Cross Edge is a game which displays considerable creativity & originality. This is inarguable-the battle system and overworld gameplay are brand new. If it is terrible then you can only blame the developers, not men in suits.

 Life ain't nothing but roguelikes and bitches to Mr. Fitch.

Allistair: Fitch is writing about his own experiences working with Konami and drawing conclusions. This is an industry he knows and loves, and like you he loves JRPGs--that's practically all he covered in his years working for 1UP. Saying the same shit happens in America is a null point, since he doesn't mention the rest of the world in the article. He's just drawing conclusions on why so many JRPGs are struggling these days. It's not research but his article is anecdotal more than speculative.


Harhol: Corporate bureaucracy is a huge problem across the industry. Singling out Japan for criticism is frankly ridiculous given the quantity of new IPs and bizarre oddities it continues to contribute year upon year. Do a side-by-side comparison of East and West and the former destroys the latter in terms of humour, charm, creativity & originality-no Japanese developer or publisher is as cynical & uncreative as EA or Activision. The fact that he puts the success of Kingdom Hearts down to the financial backing of an American company is laughable and borderline racist.


Allistair: I think it's silly to call it racist. I admit the article is more of a conversation starter then a declaration of any sort, which is why I liked it. He's commenting on how Japanese companies are run, in general. He never claims to know the specifics of each project, and really that stuff is behind the point. He is talking about how Japanese developers often feel their creativity is dismissed in the hands of the suits. I say suits but really these are just businessmen who are trying to run a business, if the last Resident Evil sold well they will keep making and selling them. The difference between East and West in this respect is that personalities hold more weight than sales figures with American companies. If Cliffy B wants to ditch Gears of War, he will.


CliffyB: 5% sell out, 95% Ryan Reynolds?

 

Harhol: Several western franchises have been continued for money-making purposes despite the wishes of their original creators-Thief, Deus Ex, Fallout, Tomb Raider, Bioshock, Prince of Persia, God of War, Medal of Honor etc. Sequelitis is an industry-wide problem. I also disagree that personalities hold more weight in the West. Almost all of the industry's current big-name personalities are Japanese and the majority of them are in charge of their own studio. A number of high-profile western personalities (Mechner, Spector, Carmack, Romero, Garriott, Jaffe, Trenz, McGee, Tørnquist, Cecil) are either out of work, stuck in development hell or retired. Other than Molyneux, Cliffy & Cage I can't think of any who are active right now.


Allistair: I have to point to Jeremy Parish's EGM feature, "The Rise and Fall (And Rise?) of Japan" where he interviewed many of the industry's giants, from Capcom's Keiji Inafune (Dead Rising, Mega Man) to legendary game designers like Kenji Eno (Rez, D). All of them had the same thing to say, that Japan has fallen behind and now companies are being re-inspired by the west.


I think Inafune says it most clearly here, "In Japan, a game developer only coexists with publishers as a single company, while many U.S. game software groups are independent. In the U.S., there's free compettion between developers, which results in better products."


Harhol: I don't see this as a bad thing. What matters to me is whether games are good or not. SCEJ may be a giant corporate behemoth but it still produces games like Echochrome, Trash Panic, Patapon, Loco Roco and Piyotama, all of which can be considered "indie" in spirit.


Patapon AKA Adobe Illustrator the Game

 

Allistair: It's still a struggle over there and we have yet to see a great Japanese indie title like Braid or Flower. Even more importantly, it seems very few leaders come to the forefront in Japan while only in the past year have literate gamers learned the names Jonathan Blow, Jonathan Mak, and Phil Fish.


Harhol: Well if there are no indie developers then how can there be indie games? Seems a little harsh. Blow is fairly high-profile because of his ceaseless rants against piracy but the other two aren't well known at all (I hadn't heard of Fish and I doubt anyone else on this site has). I don't think namedropping the designer of your favourite games makes them a "leader" all of a sudden. As I said above, the vast majority of industry personalities (or "leaders") are Japanese. And I'd also disagree that there haven't been any great indie Japanese games-Cave Story is the obvious pick but if you're into shmups (particularly bullet hell) then there are studios like ABA, Orange Juice, Studio Siesta and Team Shanghai Alice putting out dozens of quality titles. Just because something isn't on PSN or XBLA it doesn't mean it doesn't exist....


Allistair: ...Fuck you.


Harhol: No, fuck you!

Posted by Jeffsekai

I thought this was gonna be about Street Fighter. I was wrong.

Posted by kitsune_conundrum

I personally prefer Eastern developed games but alas, in the real world, the only market worth listening to is the market with the bigger wallet.

Posted by Pepsiman

That debate was a lot more thoughtful than I honestly expected it to be, given the general precedence on Western sites seems to be to simply say, "lol, Japan is irrelevant and they don't know jack shit what to do next." Thus, as someone who uses Japanese on a daily basis and will be temporarily living in Tokyo starting next month, as well as somebody who respects this legitimately healthy debate, I'll throw my hat into the ring and provide another perspective on the matter. Whether anybody else agrees with what I have to say is another matter entirely, but how I see things is how I see them, so take it for what it's worth.


A number of factors contributed to the rise and dominance of Japanese games in the post-crash industry throughout the 80s and 90s and I think a real understanding of this is necessary in order to get a true handle on the topic at hand. Historically and culturally speaking, there may be nobody better set up from the outset to create games than the Japanese and this is for several reasons. To begin with, most video games are, by nature, very aesthetically-driven experiences. The quality of the visuals may vary from game to game, but save for some scant exceptions, graphics are a core part of what it means to play video games. They can be used for a variety of purposes, from displaying a creator's unique vision to eliciting specific sensations. This has very intimate ties to the Japanese experience itself. The language and the culture formed around it have a deep appreciation for the aesthetics of most everything, and not just on a superficial level. Kanji, for example, may be a series of characters employed in writing, but they're very deliberately designed to be graphically evocative. Different radicals/traits used to make up a whole Kanji can convey meanings on their own and this is done entirely pictorially, rather than something such as phonics as in a number of Western languages. If you delve further and look into the major pieces of art which have since become famous around the world, you'll often find that their designs are done just as much for symbolic reasons as they are for presentation. Being able to use all of this heritage in something as synthetic and electronic as a video game has, traditionally, given Japanese developers quite an edge, in my opinion.

But what also can't be denied is that the Japanese have a very rich history of just games in general, too. Some may have been imported from other countries, but their impact and continued relevance even into modern times cannot be overstated. Go and Shogi, for example, may have high difficulty curves, but the possible strategic intricacies coupled with their constant historical proliferation has helped games at large become quite respected in modern Japanese society. This is the reason why arcades are so successful there, as they tie in the innate social side of humanity with yet another fundamental cultural part of Japan.

This isn't to say that the West doesn't have an appreciation for aesthetics or games, but I think they're implemented in a different way such that they were, until fairly recent, more difficult to directly incorporate into developing games. "Good artistry" has typically entailed different things than in Japan, for example, and was therefore a lot more difficult to achieve until the past few hardware generations due to technological limitations. Furthermore, if you define aesthetics in the most abstract sense, then a large percentage of the most critically lauded human works in history haven't been visually-oriented at all, but arguably lie predominantly within literature. Eastern and Western cultures both have strong back catalogs of superb authors who worked in the written word and made it work beautifully, but in the case of the West, the proliferation of texts such as the Bible has ensured that most people in the West have a more universal appreciation for the written word in terms of aesthetics (ie: the flow and style of a work) versus the aesthetics of something such as a painting. Partly due to, again, technological limitations--cartridges didn't always have enough room for lots of text and great gameplay--and also because few developers have had traditional writing backgrounds, this has prevented the West's version of aesthetic appreciations to come to fruition until fairly recently in video games. As for the history of games, while things such as chess and, in the case of Tetris, petronimos have had huge cultural impacts, mainstream perceptions of what a game is and how one should function have been more of a detriment to Western game development than it has over in Japan. Games can also have the perception of being used for entertainment as well over there, but they haven't been traditionally stigmatized as being used solely for that purpose, unlike how games are usually seen overseas.

So what, in my opinion, led to the decline in relevance and revenue for Japanese developers? Probably a mixture of changing business tactics on the part of console makers, as well as more Western talent appearing and finally having the means to really catch up with their Japanese counterparts. After the first PlayStation was released, Sony, ironically a Japanese company, was able to make huge strides with Western developers because their licensing terms were a lot "kinder" and more flexible than Nintendo's had traditionally been. (There is a reason why the Nintendo of the 80s and 90s was perceived by some to be a very rough-talking business that almost monopolized the revitalized game industry.) Far less restricted on a financial and publishing front, Western developers were finally able to start applying the lessons they had been taking for years from their Japanese counterparts and create their own market which would, as we all know, become a huge force with which to be reckoned. Technological limitations became less and less major to the extent that developers weaned more on Asimov and Salinger than, say, Yoshimoto Banana and Sei Shounagon, were better able to realize their imaginations and visions better than in previous generations. The fact that Western audiences were able to finally able to have a larger swath of experiences that resonated with them personally, rather than ones which, while still well-crafted, were less relateable due to cultural hurdles, probably helped significantly in making the Western market the largest one there is today.

Now for the other important question: What do I think Japanese developers need to do to remain important in games on an international level? I think that, first and foremost, they need to always retain that unique identity it is to be Japanese when they continue to make their games. Continuing to make money will probably mean that some will compromise their conventional practices in favor of being more "universally appealing" for worldwide release, but I think they should nonetheless figure out how to make their games continually feel Japanese so that they don't lose their uniqueness and feel like mere rehashes of Western games. I say this because I think part of the reason why Japanese games have been so appealing and profitable is precisely because they're different and, at times, seemingly exotic in nature. Not everyone is bound to necessarily appreciate that, but I believe that for integrity's sake, Japanese developers should never completely foresake their own culture just go make in-roads with the Western markets. However, I nonetheless feel that a lot of them do need to take this time as a learning experience and research very, very closely what it is that makes a number of Western-developed games so successful these days and adapt their gameplay and development philosophies accordingly. As with any industry, making video games is a matter of adaptation and survival of the fittest. It's how, as I already pointed out, that Western developers have been able to economically and influentially usurp Japanese developers and create the international market that it is today. If Japanese developers can pull that off and maintain their cultural identity, then I think they'll eventually be on the rebound. Perhaps the playing field will never again result in their utter dominance again, but it could become more even than it is now if Japanese developers take the right steps now and in the coming years. I seriously doubt that their side of the industry will become so irrelevant that they will be driven to the point of oblivion.

Again, this is coming from the perspective of a speaker of both English and Japanese. I speak the former natively, but as I mentioned earlier, the latter language is just as important to me in my daily life. I merely provide these opinions in the hopes that they contain a perspective not commonly seen in these debates. To me, the issue of Eastern vs. Western developers is a much more complex one than many would perceive it to be and I hope that this post has shed light onto why I see it that way. Agree or not, I hope this at least contributes a bit to future discussions on the matter. I, at least, enjoy putting my background to good use in times like these.
Posted by The_A_Drain

I had a dream last night and Cliffy B was in it. Nothing weird, he was just... in my house on my computer playing Unreal and watching Star Wars. Which is odd because I don't like Star Wars. wtf...

Anyhow, I like lots of different games and judge them solely by their own merits, i'm not gonna look down on something just because of where it comes from.

Posted by Delta_Ass

I think this is why Japanese games aren't doing so well...

1992: id Software releases Wolfenstein 3D. Moving and shooting can be done simultaneously.

2009: Capcom releases Resident Evil 5. Lacks ability to move and shoot simultaneously.


Edited by The_A_Drain
@Delta_Ass said:
"I think this is why Japanese games aren't doing so well...1992: id Software releases Wolfenstein 3D. Moving and shooting can be done simultaneously.2009: Capcom releases Resident Evil 5. Lacks ability to move and shoot simultaneously."

Actually, MIDI Maze for Atari 2600 was released in 1987 and was an FPS, and there were two unreleased games before that. Wolfenstein (and ID softs earlier game Hovertank 3D) just brought new technology to the table, and Doom popularized the genre massively.

Anyway, there is a difference between technological capability and design choice, you cannot move and shoot in Resi 5 because the designers did not want you to be able to. Good or bad choice is debatable, but it would be like saying

1987: Konami release Contra, solid controls.

2009: Grand Theft Auto IV, less than solid controls. (or 2008 w/e)

A ridiculous comparison that bears no merit, and actually means very little, and fails to even convey an opinion.
Posted by cinemandrew
@Delta_Ass said:
" I think this is why Japanese games aren't doing so well...1992: id Software releases Wolfenstein 3D. Moving and shooting can be done simultaneously.2009: Capcom releases Resident Evil 5. Lacks ability to move and shoot simultaneously. "
Interesting comparison. I'm going to make a guess here and say that Resident Evil 5 probably sold a hell of a lot more copies than Wolfenstein 3D did back in the day.
Online
Posted by Ping5000

I admire how American developers have a tendencey to bite off way, way more than they can chew. That's why it usually only goes as far as admiration.

Posted by Meptron
@cinemandrew said:
"
@Delta_Ass said:
" I think this is why Japanese games aren't doing so well...1992: id Software releases Wolfenstein 3D. Moving and shooting can be done simultaneously.2009: Capcom releases Resident Evil 5. Lacks ability to move and shoot simultaneously. "
Interesting comparison. I'm going to make a guess here and say that Resident Evil 5 probably sold a hell of a lot more copies than Wolfenstein 3D did back in the day."

especially because the basic version of wolfenstein 3D was shareware.
Edited by vidiot
@Pepsiman said:
" That debate was a lot more thoughtful than I honestly expected it to be, given the general precedence on Western sites seems to be to simply say, "lol, Japan is irrelevant and they don't know jack shit what to do next." Thus, as someone who uses Japanese on a daily basis and will be temporarily living in Tokyo starting next month, as well as somebody who respects this legitimately healthy debate, I'll throw my hat into the ring and provide another perspective on the matter. Whether anybody else agrees with what I have to say is another matter entirely, but how I see things is how I see them, so take it for what it's worth.

A number of factors contributed to the rise and dominance of Japanese games in the post-crash industry throughout the 80s and 90s and I think a real understanding of this is necessary in order to get a true handle on the topic at hand. Historically and culturally speaking, there may be nobody better set up from the outset to create games than the Japanese and this is for several reasons. To begin with, most video games are, by nature, very aesthetically-driven experiences. The quality of the visuals may vary from game to game, but save for some scant exceptions, graphics are a core part of what it means to play video games. They can be used for a variety of purposes, from displaying a creator's unique vision to eliciting specific sensations. This has very intimate ties to the Japanese experience itself. The language and the culture formed around it have a deep appreciation for the aesthetics of most everything, and not just on a superficial level. Kanji, for example, may be a series of characters employed in writing, but they're very deliberately designed to be graphically evocative. Different radicals/traits used to make up a whole Kanji can convey meanings on their own and this is done entirely pictorially, rather than something such as phonics as in a number of Western languages. If you delve further and look into the major pieces of art which have since become famous around the world, you'll often find that their designs are done just as much for symbolic reasons as they are for presentation. Being able to use all of this heritage in something as synthetic and electronic as a video game has, traditionally, given Japanese developers quite an edge, in my opinion.

But what also can't be denied is that the Japanese have a very rich history of just games in general, too. Some may have been imported from other countries, but their impact and continued relevance even into modern times cannot be overstated. Go and Shogi, for example, may have high difficulty curves, but the possible strategic intricacies coupled with their constant historical proliferation has helped games at large become quite respected in modern Japanese society. This is the reason why arcades are so successful there, as they tie in the innate social side of humanity with yet another fundamental cultural part of Japan.

This isn't to say that the West doesn't have an appreciation for aesthetics or games, but I think they're implemented in a different way such that they were, until fairly recent, more difficult to directly incorporate into developing games. "Good artistry" has typically entailed different things than in Japan, for example, and was therefore a lot more difficult to achieve until the past few hardware generations due to technological limitations. Furthermore, if you define aesthetics in the most abstract sense, then a large percentage of the most critically lauded human works in history haven't been visually-oriented at all, but arguably lie predominantly within literature. Eastern and Western cultures both have strong back catalogs of superb authors who worked in the written word and made it work beautifully, but in the case of the West, the proliferation of texts such as the Bible has ensured that most people in the West have a more universal appreciation for the written word in terms of aesthetics (ie: the flow and style of a work) versus the aesthetics of something such as a painting. Partly due to, again, technological limitations--cartridges didn't always have enough room for lots of text and great gameplay--and also because few developers have had traditional writing backgrounds, this has prevented the West's version of aesthetic appreciations to come to fruition until fairly recently in video games. As for the history of games, while things such as chess and, in the case of Tetris, petronimos have had huge cultural impacts, mainstream perceptions of what a game is and how one should function have been more of a detriment to Western game development than it has over in Japan. Games can also have the perception of being used for entertainment as well over there, but they haven't been traditionally stigmatized as being used solely for that purpose, unlike how games are usually seen overseas.

So what, in my opinion, led to the decline in relevance and revenue for Japanese developers? Probably a mixture of changing business tactics on the part of console makers, as well as more Western talent appearing and finally having the means to really catch up with their Japanese counterparts. After the first PlayStation was released, Sony, ironically a Japanese company, was able to make huge strides with Western developers because their licensing terms were a lot "kinder" and more flexible than Nintendo's had traditionally been. (There is a reason why the Nintendo of the 80s and 90s was perceived by some to be a very rough-talking business that almost monopolized the revitalized game industry.) Far less restricted on a financial and publishing front, Western developers were finally able to start applying the lessons they had been taking for years from their Japanese counterparts and create their own market which would, as we all know, become a huge force with which to be reckoned. Technological limitations became less and less major to the extent that developers weaned more on Asimov and Salinger than, say, Yoshimoto Banana and Sei Shounagon, were better able to realize their imaginations and visions better than in previous generations. The fact that Western audiences were able to finally able to have a larger swath of experiences that resonated with them personally, rather than ones which, while still well-crafted, were less relateable due to cultural hurdles, probably helped significantly in making the Western market the largest one there is today.

Now for the other important question: What do I think Japanese developers need to do to remain important in games on an international level? I think that, first and foremost, they need to always retain that unique identity it is to be Japanese when they continue to make their games. Continuing to make money will probably mean that some will compromise their conventional practices in favor of being more "universally appealing" for worldwide release, but I think they should nonetheless figure out how to make their games continually feel Japanese so that they don't lose their uniqueness and feel like mere rehashes of Western games. I say this because I think part of the reason why Japanese games have been so appealing and profitable is precisely because they're different and, at times, seemingly exotic in nature. Not everyone is bound to necessarily appreciate that, but I believe that for integrity's sake, Japanese developers should never completely foresake their own culture just go make in-roads with the Western markets. However, I nonetheless feel that a lot of them do need to take this time as a learning experience and research very, very closely what it is that makes a number of Western-developed games so successful these days and adapt their gameplay and development philosophies accordingly. As with any industry, making video games is a matter of adaptation and survival of the fittest. It's how, as I already pointed out, that Western developers have been able to economically and influentially usurp Japanese developers and create the international market that it is today. If Japanese developers can pull that off and maintain their cultural identity, then I think they'll eventually be on the rebound. Perhaps the playing field will never again result in their utter dominance again, but it could become more even than it is now if Japanese developers take the right steps now and in the coming years. I seriously doubt that their side of the industry will become so irrelevant that they will be driven to the point of oblivion.

Again, this is coming from the perspective of a speaker of both English and Japanese. I speak the former natively, but as I mentioned earlier, the latter language is just as important to me in my daily life. I merely provide these opinions in the hopes that they contain a perspective not commonly seen in these debates. To me, the issue of Eastern vs. Western developers is a much more complex one than many would perceive it to be and I hope that this post has shed light onto why I see it that way. Agree or not, I hope this at least contributes a bit to future discussions on the matter. I, at least, enjoy putting my background to good use in times like these.
"
THIS X1000 (A bit of an understatement.)

I was going to type a bunch of stuff. Like how the rise and fall of Japanese gaming dominance is not attributed to one single style, or mechanic. There's alot of history here that brought us to that point that we like to casually disregard, probably because it takes multiple paragraphs to convey and we have tiny attention spans.

It's been very interesting the last couple of years watching big Japanese companies try and appeal to western audiences. Capcom especially, literally going out of their way to pick up western companies for the sole purpose for them to make games off their IP's. Of course Square also bought Eidos for a reason. Then you get companies that seem to go out of their way to target western audiences. Usually coming out with mixed results.

While keeping their own identy is incredibly important (Persona 4 is not popular due to it catering to a western audience over here, I can assure you.) Japanese developers should also embrace certain western development principles. Utilizing middleware and non-exclusive game engines. We see this starting to happen now.  We take alot of this for granted, but if you have to remember Square and Capcom announcing their own multiplatform engines was pretty big news for a reason. Hideo Kojima did a pretty good presentation about the differences of Japanese and Western game development, (forgot link XD) most of it is pretty dead on.

What else? (Looks at above paragraph.)

Gee, thanks for covering everything so I have to struggle to add stuff. :P
Posted by LonelySpacePanda

Why do I get the feeling that Pepsiman just posted his college dissertation from 5 years ago? 

Just kidding.  Thanks for sharing all of your thoughts.  I'm always surprised by how the Giant Bomb community responds so well.