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What the hell happened to the Japanese and their culture of pushing the limits and innovation? They are just a shadow of its former self

Astral Dog

Member
There's also surely going to be influence on whats been available to skew gamers to western games which makes them more money.

Western gamers grew up with a mix of console and computer gaming. Although consoles always skewed to platformer and arcadey games which were heavily based on Japanese games, PC is totally different kinds of games. So for many of us, we grew up playing all kinds of games.

However, I think Japanese gamers have historically been focused on Japanese made arcade and console games. Not much of anything else. I dont think PC gaming has ever been big there. So for that market, they never got exposed to such a wide breadth of genres and games across hardware from when gaming ramped up in the 80s. Foe example, how many gamers in Japan played Ultima or other archaic WRPGs on Apple or PC or Commodore? Probably not many.
To be honest, the fact that many of gaming's biggest brands and companies are concentrated in Japan and only Japan is crazy if you think about it.

Western developers should be 10 times as big and succesful if not more, so the success and gaming market in Japan being as big as it is, shows how much support the rest of the gamming world shows them.

That's why i said not to worry, they aren't doing bad, just adjusting. No they won't offer the same things western developers do anymore, but they are still a big driving force within the industry, both creatively and design wise
 

.Pennywise

Banned
Sounds like you had tinted glasses on like a child.

I can imagine it was mind blowing from previous gens to PS1, but wasn't any special if you had a decent pc back then.
No, it was like that. It was a worldwide phenomenon to look at Japan to see what was coming in the future.
 

ssringo

Member
It's what the customer wants. No, not every single customer on the entire planet. Generally speaking. People want something good and then they want more of it. Again and again. I'm definitely guilty of this. Capcom could remake all the mainline Resident Evil games and then do it again and I'd buy it and love it every single time.

Innovating gameplay is risky; especially since the industry is so mature at this point. Going off in a crazy direction doesn't mean everyone will want to try your idea. Flops=less money=devs lose their jobs/studios close/get bought by mega corporation that's just going to play it safe anyways.

Pushing things graphically is expensive and time consuming. Not to mention you're limited by technology. Not everybody owns *current gen consoles* or *high end PCs*. Plus very few companies can really even afford to do this. Even then we've long since hit the point of diminishing returns where differences aren't as noticeable. Sure you can take this incredibly beautiful screenshot but in motion it just looks a little bit better than something else (if that). Elden Ring is a great example of this.
 

Labadal

Member
Vanquish was a really fun 3rd person shooter that plays great, and the boost function makes it different from other games in the genre.

Binary Domain's robot enemies, and how they still moved around was really fun, and the game had great boss battles.

Super Mario Galaxy is one of the best platformers ever (if not the best).

Gravity Rush, with its gameplay, that felt very unique to me.

Shadow of the Colossus, tell me a game that plays like it.

Dragon's Dogma has great combat, and is unmatched, imo.

There are other examples, but these are a few that Japanese developers can make great and unique things.

While not unique, most character action games that are good, come out of Japan.

I also need to ask a question: Is it fair to put Japan against the rest of the world? I think not.

I like more European games, than I like American games. I am a fan of many Polish and German studios, because they make games that appeal to me. If we started looking country by country, Japan would be unrivaled in my opinion. Despite many mobile gmaes, and JRPGs. Even some of those types of games have new things, that not everyone knows of.

Look at western devs. Turn-based? let's do it like XCOM (I love XCOM, so subjectively, I approve), fps, open world, battle royale, and so on. Most western devs don't innovate either, even if there are some that deserve mentioning.
 

MrA

Member
Japan's population is aging, total pop is down about 5% from its height and there are far less young people, less firebrand with hot new ideas
Plus game development takes longer than ever, much like living things the more complex the slower it evolves
Can't release 3 different games a year
Tropes are better established, bad ideas filtered out, more existing ideas takes more to hit a new idea
 

StreetsofBeige

Gold Member
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lost_Decades

It all ties together with this OP.

Japan was absolutely dominant in many industries at that time and was a sure bet to be the world's biggest economy at one stage.
I barely skimmed the link, and it said a lot about bad growth rates and policymaking etc.... Im not going to read all that.

But from a consumer point of view just comparing back then to now, it used to be if you wanted highest quality cars and TVs and shit like that you saved up money and got a Sony or Panasonic TV, or Toyota Camry etc....

Fast forward to the 2000s and Korean brands somehow jumped through the roof especially in home electronics and they made a big presence with Kia/Hyundai where they started small and trying to amp up the brand. Not just them that ate into Japanese cars. But Tesla lately and all those historically stodgy luxury brands meant for CEOs like BMWs and Mercedes are now common everywhere with their lower priced models.

I remember a time the only time I saw Samsung or LG was when Future Shop, Walmart or The Bay were selling dumpy bargain bin TVs or Lucky Goldstar microwaves.

The Japanese brands never rose up too keeping the gap. Instead, the other brands from around the world caught up or even surpassed them.
 
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Mung

Member
I barely skimmed the link, and it said a lot about bad growth rates and policymaking etc.... Im not going to read all that.

But from a consumer point of view just comparing back then to now, it used to be if you wanted highest quality cars and TVs and shit like that you saved up money and got a Sony or Panasonic TV, or Toyota Camry etc....

Fast forward to the 2000s and Korean brands somehow jumped through the roof especially in home electronics and they made a big presence with Kia/Hyundai where they started small and trying to amp up the brand. Not just them that ate into Japanese cars. But Tesla lately and all those historically stodgy luxury brands meant for CEOs like BMWs and Mercedes are now common everywhere with their lower priced models.

I remember a time the only time I saw Samsung or LG was when Future Shop, Walmart or The Bay were selling dumpy bargain bin TVs or Lucky Goldstar microwaves.

The Japanese brands never rose up too keeping the gap. Instead, the other brands from around the world caught up or even surpassed them.
That's partly what the article is about (the effects section in particular). They lost their dominance in those industries, partly to South Korea.

Quote from wiki article:
Despite mild economic recovery in the 2000s, conspicuous consumption of the 1980s has not returned to the same pre-crash levels. Japanese firms such as Toyota, Sony, Panasonic, Sharp, and Toshiba, which had dominated their respective industries in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, had to fend off strong competition from rival firms based in other East Asian countries, particularly South Korea, and China, since the 2000s. In 1989, of the world's top 50 companies by market capitalization, 32 were Japanese; by 2018, only one such company (Toyota) remains in the top 50
As to WHY the collapse happened, that is at once unclear, controversial and debatable! There are many many theories on that.
 
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SF Kosmo

...please disperse...
A few things happened:

1) The Xbox, and especially the Xbox 360 created a major fissure in the markets. The Xbox brand sold almost nothing in Japan but was dominant in the West and so it had to rely on western games, which got a lot more popular during this time, even in PlayStation. This shrank the audience for Japanese games and therefore the amount of resources available to them.

2) The gaming audience aged up in the West but in Japan, games are still stigmatized as being for kids and young people.

3) Because of both of the above things, handhelds because a really good way for Japanese devs to make money with smaller productions, and handheld gaming really became the dominant way to play in Japan, depending the platform divide.

There are other factors as well, Japan was often more determined to keep tech in house and we're slow to adopt the third party engines that power so many western games, often favoring in house tech that wasn't really competitive.
 

StreetsofBeige

Gold Member
That's partly what the article is about (the effects section in particular). They lost their dominance in those industries, partly to South Korea.

Quote from wiki article:

As to WHY the collapse happened, that is at once unclear, controversial and debatable! There are many many theories on that.
And without knowing who those 32 companies were in 1989, I bet they were heavily influenced by car and electronics companies. As said in the article, China and Korea came around. Since those are high ticket items it makes it tough for Japan to rely on other industries to float the boat because most stuff that are sold are low priced on a per unit or per service basis.
 

StreetsofBeige

Gold Member
There are other factors as well, Japan was often more determined to keep tech in house and we're slow to adopt the third party engines that power so many western games, often favoring in house tech that wasn't really competitive.
Good point.

And not just in terms of competitive game engines, but like Windows spreading across PCs for 30 years, all the big name game engine makers who license them out never seem to be Japanese (at least I dont remember any). So what happens is games revolve around common game engines, like how everyone would say every game made in UE3 kind of looked the same. But people built off it and make them better.

You never know. There could be the greatest game engine ever kept under wraps at a Japanese studio. But if they dont have the resources to max it and nobody else knows about it to do better tricks with it, it'll be hidden and never used to it's full potential.
 

Astral Dog

Member
Western gamers grew up with a mix of console and computer gaming. Although consoles always skewed to platformer and arcadey games which were heavily based on Japanese games, PC is totally different kinds of games. So for many of us, we grew up playing all kinds of games.

However, I think Japanese gamers have historically been focused on Japanese made arcade and console games. Not much of anything else. I dont think PC gaming has ever been big there. So for that market, they never got exposed to such a wide breadth of genres and games across hardware from when gaming ramped up in the 80s. Foe example, how many gamers in Japan played Ultima or other archaic WRPGs on Apple or PC or Commodore? Probably not many.
This is interesting but not any inherent flaw, as you said Japanese gamers didn't grow on PC western like games for circumstances beyond their control, so they just make the games they are good at and sell them, they won't release your childhood western PC RPG/Shooter because they rather develop something else and many companies already cather to you. while western games influence Japanese design and so on, they are clearly against copying every thing from the west.

Millions of gamers grew up with Nintendo or PlayStation without PC influencing our tastes, expecting Japan to copy the west instead of innovating their own design, ideas and genres(such as character action or arcade like for example) is just not reasonable. Of course there's a risk their games may sell less, or maybe more than western but that's a healthier and more interesting industry than everybody making the same thing.

What they can and are doing(at least third party) , is releasing their videogames for PC and as many platforms as possible for more people to enjoy
 
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NeoIkaruGAF

Gold Member
The Japanese were, and still are, masters of cutting corners.
Remember that Nintendo built their empire on Gunpei Yokoi’s “lateral thinking of withered technology”. Japanese systems were rarely cutting edge and, when they strived to chew more than they could bite (N64, Dreamcast, PS3), they always struggled.
Japanese game development rarely ever knew what to do with redundant technology. The CD-Rom in its infancy was just a big container for prerendered CG movies, the actual games barely using a tenth of the available space, if even that. Japanese devs were incredibly crafty at saving resources and reusing assets. They almost never thought of solving problems by throwing money at them, which is instead the way the big western devs do things these days.

So it really comes down to money and what to do with it.
The biggest western devs have amounts of money and manpower no one in Japan can afford. Even if someone in Japan could afford it, they lack the culture and mentality to make make what Naughty Dog and Sony Santa Monica do. If XBox as a brand has almost no presence in Japan is because it represents games Japanese people aren’t interested in. Nor are Japanese people interested in God of War or TLOU. So you’re not going to see stuff like that from Japan. They probably see that stuff as a waste of resources down there, not something to strive towards. Playstation shifting towards the western ideal of video games is one of the reasons the brand lost its grip on Japan. The average Switch game is something the Japanese are perfectly content with, and devs liking money as anyone else, they do what sells. PS4 was still strong in Japan simply because there was really nowhere else to get the games for consumers, and really nowhere else to publish the games on for devs. Once the Switch hit, it was the perfect machine for Japan.

Japan has no reason and no incentive to be at the forefront of gaming tech. They learned their lesson in the 7th gen. As for gameplay, well, they still understand that better than many in the west. Sure, some of their design decisions are still baffling, but there aren’t that many successful western games where you won’t find the same. Successful western games simply have enough vocal stans to drown out any grounded criticism of questionable design decisions, and enough paid shills in the “specialized“ press to handwave away any issues and award perfect scores. As for the public, all they need is shiny graphics and online play.
 

8BiTw0LF

Gold Member
One man still has it in him

Just deleted Death Stranding after 5 hours of play. What a snorefest of epic proportions.
 

NeoIkaruGAF

Gold Member
Oh, and another thing.

Seeing Kojima mentioned as some enlightened innovator who tried to shake the Japanese industry out of its lethargy is hilarious.
His MGS2 is one of the main reasons AAA shifted towards corridors filled with cool CG cutscenes and way too much voice acting in the span of a generation. It’s also one of the main reasons half of the main characters of 7th gen AAA games were Solid Snake wannabes or parodies. The western AAA industry thrived following the footsteps of a Japanese game designer that wanted to be a writer of American-style movies more than everything. The irony in there is off the charts.
 
Nintendo killed Japan with its move to lame hardware like the Wii then and focus on HH (the Switch its a HH in all but name). Thank GOD for Capcom and Namco and its also nice to see SEGA dich the mobile focus and push more on big AAA console/PC games.
 

TGO

Hype Train conductor. Works harder than it steams.
Not sure what you on about.
Kojima Pro, Capcom & SE( mainly FFVIIremake)
Have made some of the best looking games out there.
And innovation?
Kojima turned hiking & Postal Service into an action game
Capcom are the only ones to make a decent VR game.
 

hemo memo

Member
Games are becoming too expensive to make so less innovation and more of following the formula with Nintendo as an exception because they can afford it. If the budget goes down and people stop buying the yearly soulless and creatively bankrupt crap like Cod then companies would care to try.
 

Mr Hyde

Member
I think it's great that Japanese developers have moved away from trying to emulate Western games too hard, like they did in the PS360 era. Sure we got Capcom and Square Enix still flirting with west with some of their franchises, but most of them now focuses on fun, gameplay centric experiences that differs from the Western output. They bring a lot of fresh ideas and gameplay mechanics that western developers either care for or can't make.

JP developers may not be cutting edge in hardware or graphics (although Square Enix still brings the goods in FF) but you can be damned sure that japanese games still have a lot of flavour in them in other areas. I also love that many games are in the AA space and/or smaller games like SE puts out, such as Octopath, DioField Chronicles or Triangle Strategy. Just because it's not a super expensive cinematic graphics heavy game that push the envelope doesn't mean it's not original or has fresh and new ideas. You're pretty simple minded if you think otherwise.
 
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Dr.D00p

Member
Things change & move on, not always for the better.

As an example, The British ruled the 'real' world for 200yrs, then the Americans came along, and things have been going downhill ever since. :messenger_beaming:
 

Aenima

Member
Games became too expensive to take big risks. And also like some already said, japan has shifted they focus to mobile, as japanese lifestyle is more mobile.
If you are not locked in a xbox bubble you still find alot of great japanese games, even if the visuals are not next gen. I have been playing and enjoying alot of japanese games lately and im not searching for japanese games only, it just happens they keep delivering more games im interested to play than western devs.
 
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StreetsofBeige

Gold Member
I think it's great that Japanese developers have moved away from trying to emulate Western games too hard, like they did in the PS360 era. Sure we got Capcom and Square Enix still flirting with west with some of their franchises, but most of them now focuses on fun, gameplay centric experiences that differs from the Western output. They bring a lot of fresh ideas and gameplay mechanics that western developers either care for or can't make.

JP developers may not be cutting edge in hardware or graphics (although Square Enix still brings the goods in FF) but you can be damned sure that japanese games still have a lot of flavour in them in other areas. I also love that many games are in the AA space and/or smaller games like SE puts out, such as Octopath, DioField Chronicles or Triangle Strategy. Just because it's not a super expensive cinematic graphics heavy game that push the envelope doesn't mean it's not original or has fresh and new ideas. You're pretty simple minded if you think otherwise.
I dont play Japanese games because most of them have that anime look and sound which I cringe at. Even the westernized grittier games still have characters you can tell was drawn by Japanese artists with the anime-ish hair and face.

I'd probably give a game like Valkyrie Chronicles or some strategy RPG game a try if the production values were westernized. I'm not talking about AAA budgets, just aesthetics like scouring Steam and GOG and I see games I like visually better made by US or Euro studios. And definitely the sound better. I'm not a fan of high pitched screeching girl voices.

I'm no expert in Japan culture or anything, but with the way they make females super girly and giggly and every guy like some deep voiced sumo wrestler or samurai warrior, it seems odd. Although, maybe Japanese people do sound like that in every day life.
 
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SSfox

Member
Japanese are in great spot right now. And nowadays there are more great Japanese games than western games. And even Western games the great ones are mostly from Sony.

And even outside of Japan there seem to be more asian games than ever, Wukong (Chinese game) and Project Eve (from Korean) looks to be some the most promising games coming in this generation of consoles.
 
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This is not true.yes there is a focus for mobile but the people you know from back then and most of the famous studios make still state of the art games in graphics and gameplay.Whole new genre was invented by Sony Japan and from software with demons Souls.Japan still make the best action RPGs fighting’s games driving games schmups jump run horror games.Resi is stil king like it was 20 years ago Kojima stil makes amazing games and so on.The difference now is the west cought up with Japan and surpassed it in some things in quality and especially in number of developers.
 

Mr Hyde

Member
I dont play Japanese games because most of them have that anime look and sound which I cringe at. Even the westernized grittier games still have characters you can tell was drawn by Japanese artists with the anime-ish hair and face.

I'd probably give a game like Valkyrie Chronicles or some strategy RPG game a try if the production values were westernized. I'm not talking about AAA budgets, just aesthetics like scouring Steam and GOG and I see games I like visually better made by US or Euro studios. And definitely the sound better. I'm not a fan of high pitched screeching girl voices.

I'm no expert in Japan culture or anything, but with the way they make females super girly and giggly and every guy like some deep voiced sumo wrestler or samurai warrior, it seems odd. Although, maybe Japanese people do sound like that in every day life.

I always play with English VA. Not really a fan of Japanese VA but I love the games that comes from there (except stuff like Gal Gun or Senran Kagura, you know the pervy shit)
 
I think there are some good points OP makes but the context is that we are at a time shortly after a huge economic slowdown that disrupted development processes, near the beginning of the latest console generation, and at a point in technology where it now makes sense to remake or re-release many classic games from our childhood.


If you combine all of those factors and the high cost of new game development, it makes sense that companies are cashing in on tried and true franchises. Let’s be honest, most devs can’t afford to spend 5 years making a AAA game anymore. And they certainly can’t bet the house on it. Look at The Avengers game and how its flop directly led to SE cutting loose that whole division.


I don’t necessarily think Japan is any less creative. Hell, if anything they are still leading the way in innovation outside of the VR space - I do think they should be embracing this sector more. I think about what Miyamoto would do given VR tech and my kind immediately jumps to Pikmin. Something so bizarre and unique, that only works if you think up a brand new kind of game. Nintendo has done this although with varying levels of success.


The problem is: all of the low hanging fruit has been picked. I do agree that Japanese developers should be doing more when iterating, and less rereleases of the past. But I wouldn’t mind if they channeled that energy into a true renaissance where they remake the classics and update their graphics with minor gameplay tweaks where needed. It would a healthier balance of old meets new, but conservative enough to support their experimental games.
 

Porcile

Member
Oh, and another thing.

Seeing Kojima mentioned as some enlightened innovator who tried to shake the Japanese industry out of its lethargy is hilarious.
His MGS2 is one of the main reasons AAA shifted towards corridors filled with cool CG cutscenes and way too much voice acting in the span of a generation. It’s also one of the main reasons half of the main characters of 7th gen AAA games were Solid Snake wannabes or parodies. The western AAA industry thrived following the footsteps of a Japanese game designer that wanted to be a writer of American-style movies more than everything. The irony in there is off the charts.

Nagh. The two games that turned the tide towards shallow games with high production values were Bioshock and Modern Warfare in 2007 IMO. Everyone wanted a slice of that critical acclaim pie. MGS2 and 3 were nothing like that.
 
I still fail to see all these ground breaking, innovative AAA Western games that I see many people hype up that are pushing the industry forward. Western developers generally play it safe in gameplay and designs. I feel that indie and Japanese developers are pushing the industry forward more. Sure, Western developers typically have the tech and budget advantage, but Japan imho will always have the gameplay, creativity and fun advantage.
 
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Kataploom

Member
I think it's great that Japanese developers have moved away from trying to emulate Western games too hard, like they did in the PS360 era. Sure we got Capcom and Square Enix still flirting with west with some of their franchises, but most of them now focuses on fun, gameplay centric experiences that differs from the Western output. They bring a lot of fresh ideas and gameplay mechanics that western developers either care for or can't make.

JP developers may not be cutting edge in hardware or graphics (although Square Enix still brings the goods in FF) but you can be damned sure that japanese games still have a lot of flavour in them in other areas. I also love that many games are in the AA space and/or smaller games like SE puts out, such as Octopath, DioField Chronicles or Triangle Strategy. Just because it's not a super expensive cinematic graphics heavy game that push the envelope doesn't mean it's not original or has fresh and new ideas. You're pretty simple minded if you think otherwise.
Srsly, Japanes devs are very much responsible for this AA resurgence we are having, which helps the industry get healthy and risk resistant again, I love seeing smaller than "Enormous open world trying to be life simulators"... This TGS and last Nintendo Direct have been a godsent to me due to that
 
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I work in the Japanese game industry and im sad to tell you this truth....PS4 and switch are kinda ruining everything.

Im excited that more and more Japanese are turning to PC for games and SteamDeck had a gigantic presence at TGS this year...they covered a giant section of the hall and generated a ton of interest.
 

NeoIkaruGAF

Gold Member
I work in the Japanese game industry and im sad to tell you this truth....PS4 and switch are kinda ruining everything.

Im excited that more and more Japanese are turning to PC for games and SteamDeck had a gigantic presence at TGS this year...they covered a giant section of the hall and generated a ton of interest.
Turning to PC doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll strive for the production values and technical standards that is expected of PC versions in the west.
We all remember Dark Souls on PC, and that was just one example of a Japanese game on PC that needed a fan fix to not be just the console version running on PC. And that was just one game from that time that Japan clearly didn’t feel needed more than just be a console game that you can buy and play on a PC.

Things have gotten better since then, but not enough.
This is what I wrote earlier in this thread about Japanese devs’ and publisher ‘ mentality.
Turning to PC doesn’t mean any dev in Japan is ready to splosh the kind of cash that the top brass in the west consider the standard for AAA these days. We’ll still get console-level games, with a few customization options not available on console.
 
PS360 basically killed the dominance of Japanese gaming.

Most studios during the PS2 era and prior in Japan were heavily focused around the art of making games.

So when PS360 rolled around they were thrown for 6. The massive increase in dev complexity, production cost, complexity of making HD art; all of it caused Japanese studios to really struggle to level up the same way Western studios did. In the end they either struggled and failed to make HD games, gave up and focused exclusively on the Wii (basically kicked the can down the road), and in rare cases managed to overcome and get to where they needed to be (Capcom, Kojima Productions & SE).

Also didn’t help that most Japanese studios at the time were largely PlayStation centric and well not only was the PS3 a bitch to dev for (CELL processor) but the bottom of the PS3 market fell out in Japan completely (due to the high cost and excessively large size of the console). Maybe Japanese devs couldn’t rationalise making games anymore with a focus on the tastes of the domestic market when the domestic market shat the bed.
 
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Long story short, the rising cost of game development made it to where it just wasn't profitable enough to stay on the cutting edge in the console sphere.

I agree there's a special magic to what Japanese games were prior to the PS3/360 era, but things are much better now than they were during 2009-2016.

Things could be a lot worse and were, yeah it sucks Japanese games aren't at the cutting edge of graphics but good game design is more important at the end of the day.

However sometimes that has it's limits even for me, I couldn't get into Elden Ring because it looked so dated and I'm worried about BOTW2 as well looking real dated.
 
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