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 Mega Man  creator says many Japanese teams lack a 'creative vision'
Mega Man creator says many Japanese teams lack a 'creative vision' Exclusive
March 23, 2012 | By Staff

Industry legend Keiji Inafune has become a bit infamous for his harsh criticisms of the Japanese game business, and in Gamasutra's latest feature interview, the Capcom veteran and Mega Man creator explained that many Japanese companies suffer because they don’t operate under a single "creative vision."

"A lot of companies, if you look at them today, they'll be like, 'Oh, Okay. How do we monetize? Where's the money to be made? What are we giving the consumers that they want?' They don't really have a creative vision for what to build a game around," he said.

At his own studios, Comcept and Intercept, Inafune hopes to avoid this problem by establishing a clear creative goal for his teams, which will help ensure that all development efforts go towards realizing that vision.

"We have this creative concept, and that's what we're going to build our IP around. We're not going to focus it necessarily on the money... We're not going to focus it necessarily on what exactly the people want. This is going to be our vision and what we're going to stick to it."

The real trick, he says, is to establish a sense of leadership -- otherwise, a development team won't have anyone to keep their projects focused and on track.

"If you look at other companies, they may have a president, they may have producers and directors, but these guys sometimes don't really understand. In the end, you can't say whose game it was that they made. They're not really unified as a company under a single person's vision."

"All the people that work for me understand how to follow and how to iterate and execute on that concept. So, we're just a unified team moving forward versus some people being political, some people pretending to be a producer and not really having a true skill to do it, and not really having a vision, or whatever. We are a unified single unit."

The full interview, in which Inafune details his plans for improving the state of Japanese game development, is live now on Gamasutra.

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Kevin Tufano
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Developers must follow the ways of treasure, I believe, if they are truly to succeed. To ignite the significance of the game itself as a presence before a quantified margin of profit. It breeds inconsistencies within.

Joe Zachery
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I find it funny how most these Japanese developers all feel like this about their part of the industry. Yet they have a prime example of how to do things right but never follow that direction. Look at Nintendo, and follow in their foot steps, and you will be better off in the long run.

"If you look at other companies, they may have a president, they may have producers and directors, but these guys sometimes don't really understand. In the end, you can't say whose game it was that they made. They're not really unified as a company under a single person's vision."

Iwata use to work with the Pokemon Division, and now he is the president. You can tell he understand game design, and development. Japan please follow Nintendo's lead.

Jele Ge
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A lot of Inafune's negative statements reflect the current state of Capcom, in which they started thinking of how to make money first and release a quality product second.

Joe McGinn
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That's an astute observation, and in that case I'd say the man has a point. Certainly the case in Capcom's bizarre repudiation of their own history and their own culture of design in their stated attempt to make RE 6 more like COD and less like, well, less like RE.

Sam Robinson
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@Joe I don't absolutely agree with looking at Nintendo and following in their footsteps. They completely alienated their hardcore gamer audience with the Wii. Sure, they are very good at business and haven't done badly in any way, but they could have done things a lot better.

I think Keiji Inafune is spot on, but this problem isn't just confined to specifically games development. I think it's become increasingly obvious over the years that Sony of Japan suffers from this lack of unified goal with it's hardware development.

Joe Zachery
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While this my not be a debate that is allowed on this site. I would totally disagree with you since I'm a diehard Nintendo consumers. The games that were consider hardcore when I was five. Were the same games I played on my Wii this generation. Super Mario Galaxy is every bit as magical as Super Mario Bros on NES. Now take Square Enix besides the name do you see any resembles between Final Fantasy on the NES to Final Fantasy on the PS3. There is a reason why there is a decline in software when it comes to Japanese Developed games. They haven't forgot how to make games they just are not making the games that people want. Devil May Cry, Resident Evil 2, and Final Fantasy 7 during the PS1 and PS2 eras where huge titles. Now look at their current counterparts DMC4/Remake DMC, Resident Evil 5/Raccoon City, and Final Fantasy 13. Besides the name do these games have the same feel as their more popular predecessor no. There is a reason why Grand Theft Auto 4 was a successful game. Mainly because it's a next generation version of Part 3, and Vice City. Where Japanese Developers decide they have to try and fix what's not broken. Or just go in a totally different and new direction that upsets the consumer base.
To show how this is why they need to follow Nintendo. This generation with the Wii, and DS Nintendo was able to create totally new experience. While at the same time still give their consumers base what they want. Making them the most successful gaming company this generation.

Merc Hoffner
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I'm endlessly bemused by this argument. For the decade covering N64 and Gamecube Nintendo were accused of not fostering a core gamer as they were far too kiddy, and now that they dominate they're accused of abandoning said core that was (according to the same people) a fiction, all whilst posting sales of traditional style and new style Mario, Smash Bros, Metroid and Zelda games that put most 'core' companies to shame.

You say they could have done a much better job, but when you consider that virtually all analysts, retailers, industry journalists, non-industry journalists, forum go-ers, third parties and competitors accused them of being wrong about everything ever and considered them dead on the spot, and then they single handedly produced and supported the fastest selling and most profitable systems in the history of systems (off the back of less than 5000 employees), I'd consider that nothing short of an economic miracle. How pray tell could they have done better?

Maurício Gomes
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Nintendo never left their vision...

It is the other companies that never understood it...

Nintendo was ALWAYS about "magical" childlike games. From their first arcade game, to the newest Wii and 3DS title.

The thing is: To reach their vision, they needed to push a lot the power of the videogame... Other companies though that "power was better" and went for it.

When we had enough power to do "magical" games, Nintendo went for innovation in controls, to keep the exploration and wonder of experience.

Microsoft and Sony still went for "power"...

So, what about the "nintendo hates core gamers?"

It is the core gamers that changed, not Nintendo... As the old Nintendo fans grew up, they wanted more "mature" games, they wanted more violence, more blood, whatnot... The powerfull consoles, supported that easily.

But the Nintendo games, never changed, they still focus on the same audience... Thus as their audience "outgrow" nintendo, they become haters that claim nintendo hates them instead.

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Jason Chen
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working in the game industry here in Asia, I can say most of Asian developers lacks of creativity, but Japan is far better then rest of the Asia.

Timothy Larkin
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Japan plays it too safe. They need to stop being afraid of taking risks.

Eric McVinney
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Too true. Which is why I wished that there were more games like Bayonetta, Vanquish, and Demon's/Dark Souls in the making. But it's also true that Japanese devs face a higher risk trying to appeal to the Western market than doing so over there (IMO!!).