Back in the 1980s when video games had suddenly boomed, it was the Japanese clearly leading the industry. Nintendo, Konami and Atari were all heading a revolution of a new media, a group of young developers creating something that would shape the generation. People like Satoru Iwata and Toru Iwatani didn’t have a manual to read or anything to base their creations on, they were the first to create a video game, they wrote the book on development.
Yet nowadays the Japanese influence on the gaming world is decreasing rapidly, as Sony and Microsoft battle to decide who has the greater console it seems Nintendo is taking a back seat in the console wars. People are quick to insult Nintendo and claim it is failing, yet they forget that without Nintendo and Atari gaming would not be the massive industry it is today. Even in the early 2000s I often noticed that most games I was playing on my Playstation 1 were made by Japanese people, it came as a shock to me when I was older and I discovered that the GTA franchise was American made. It blew my mind, I grew up playing JRPGs and Pokemon and so this was the first time I saw a game developed outside of Japan.
People seem to see a Japanese made game as quirky and something you can play to sound cultured, people seem to have lost respect for the astonishing games made by Japan, fewer and fewer games are being translated for Western audiences and those that are released are often heavily altered. One Japanese game that has retained respect is the Pokemon franchise, people of all ages can enjoy the franchise. The Japanese game market is very different to its Western counterpart, developers are often treated as just standard workers. This was shown recently after it was revealed that Konami was sending developers it had problems with to have roles as cleaners and security guards.
It wasn`t just limited to developers though, producers and directors were all affected by this. The most notable example would have to be Hideo Kojima, after repeatedly disagreeing with Konami he announced he was parting ways with the company. This came as a shock for gamers as Kojima was responsible most notably for the Metal Gear series and his company Kojima Productions, in fact his company was another victim as it was shut down by Konami. This really shines a light on the stark differences between the two markets, in Western companies having development skills is a talent that would be valued highly by many companies, whereas in Japan the workers are much more disposable.
It is a shame to witness the death of the Japanese influence, yet it seems that with a number of Japanese games on the horizon that perhaps the elders of the gaming world may be making a comeback. Games like the new Final Fantasy VII Remake and Metal Gear Solid: The Phantom Pain all look like they have true potential to blow games like Call of Duty and GTA out of the water. Nintendo are having a new surge in popularity thanks to Amiibo, yet this shows that they are having to adopt Western marketing techniques just to remain relevant.
I will always prefer a Japanese developed game to something made by an American billionaire with no experience in the market, the Japanese companies have a long history of making games but Microsoft is known for making computers and Sony for CD Players. So I am now going to go and play the latest Monster Hunter whilst eating sushi with a samurai and some geisha, so thanks for reading and otaku ni hokan shite kudasai!