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Yamaoka: Japanese Games Industry "Struggling A Bit"

Matt Gardner
Akira Yamaoka, Japan, Japanese games, Mid-range, Sine Mora

Yamaoka: Japanese Games Industry "Struggling A Bit"

Akira Yamaoka has chipped in with his thoughts on the state of Japan's gaming industry, suggesting that it is "struggling a bit", and ruminating that perhaps "we reached the maximum that we could achieve".

Taking on board the concerns that Keiji Inafune put forward in his speech at GDC, Yamaoka said that it's important to recognise that video game development provides a global service, and that failing to recognise the global part of that is hurting the Japanese industry.

"I think it's true that the Japanese industry is struggling a bit," said Yamaoka, chatting to EDGE. "Maybe we reached the maximum that we could achieve, and we have to admit it. I think that those Japanese people who do not understand cultures overseas will not be able to create entertainment for the global market.

"Creating videogames is a service. If you can't, or don't want, to see and meet users around the world, I don't think it's possible to provide the entertainment they want."

Yamaoka is no stranger to collaborations with Western companies, with the Silent Hill composer now a part of Grasshopper Manufacture, whose bullet-hell shooter Sine Mora released earlier this month as part of a joint venture with Hungarian studio Digital Reality.

Indeed, Digital Reality's Theodore Reiker agreed, also noting that the Western studios often enjoyed far higher budgets, with which Japanese studios have not been able to compete.

"The Japanese videogame ruled the world for many years, but times are changing," he said. "The middle-class of game development is struggling everywhere.

"Japanese creators are still making fantastic and fresh games… but just like Europe lost cinema after the first few decades to Hollywood, so Japan has lost videogames to the blockbusters and social networks. It'll be interesting to see how they adapt."

The disappearing middle ground - that area of risk between AAA and small indie titles - was central to our review of 2011, a year in which many mid-range studios fell by the wayside, not just in Japan. Yamaoka is certainly right about one thing: it will be interesting to see how the industry adapts.

You can read our Sine Mora review here.


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