Jean Kellams, PlatinumGames’ international co-ordinator and writer, recently talked online about his theory as to why games fail or succeed on either side of the Pacific. While it is often maintained that games from Japan have a different “flavor” than Western games, he has a simpler way of looking at things.
“The problems with Japanese games aren’t that they are JPN games or that they are Westernized games,” said Kellams. “The problems with JPN games are simple: Most of them aren’t very good games. People don’t buy those. Most games from anywhere aren’t good. That’s why exceptional means exceptional.”
He also noted that the investment issue is a vicious cycle for Japanese developers – without large finances you can’t compete with companies like Ubisoft and Activision, but if you don’t invest that money you probably won’t have huge hits. “Most Japanese publishers/developers can’t invest money/manpower enough to compete with exceptional Western productions,” he noted. “Risk is too high. It costs money and sweat to make things stand out, but it also raises the risk. Then marketing is crazy expensive after that.”