Square Enix: Japanese Gaming at a Crossroads

No longer the global super-power it once was?

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Square Enix: Japanese Gaming at a Crossroads
Speaking to the Financial Times, an unnamed representative from Final Fantasy makers, Square Enix, has voiced doubts that Japan can maintain its position as the centre of the video games world.

"The Japanese games industry is standing at a crossroads, and whether it will stay at the centre of the global games industry, or whether it will lose that position, is now unclear."

Remember that Square has just said that it's going to pay out a yen or two for Ninja Gaiden publisher, the Japanese-based Tecmo (instead of, for example US-based Take-Two).

It is intriguing, however, that the FT doesn't actually name the source of the quotation.

So, is Japan still the "centre of global games industry"? Answers to the Forum please.


deleted 3 Sep 2008 11:35
not anymore im afraid and its kinda sad, gone are the days of waiting 12-24 months for a european version of something that you heard in the playground is cool, although trusting the playground was hard as i cant remember how many times a so called reliable source (usually an uncle who apparaently lives in japan) has given great information on the next installment of a gane to be released 2 years away in 1991, only to find out that said uncle was either non existant or liked bullshitting to his newphew, in fact i believe this japanese uncle actually owned a Snes 2! at one point which according to the source had graphics like a real film and he had a new super mario bros game where mario and peach had baby marios!

ahhh i miss the playground of yesteryear, but back to japan centre of gaming, i thkn the problem stands now that while the Japanians made excellent games its the fact they still make those same games, the likes of Squeenix and Namco while need to continuemaking Tales of and Final Fantasy i think they need to take a new direction, perhaps the Temco deally thingy will help on that but maybe they should take a leaf from nintendo and change there genre direction, although not like Sega did :)

Joji 3 Sep 2008 14:31
Square are confirming what many of us have seen for some time now. This is why I never purchased FFXII, because the japanese developers are falling into the rut of conplacency and mediocre ville.

If you compare the Square of the PS1 days to the SE of now, their output was much more varied and wishing to try new things. These days its too much FF games, and while they are good I have really bad FF fatigue.

I think the real danger for japanese developer is that while the western developers have learned from the japanese in the past, many of them have trouble doing the same. Failaure in the development of 3D tech or adoption of outside tech like Unreal 3 engine has also hampered them, leaving many PS3 games looking like PS2 efforts.

Its possible this is a very japanese thing, that they take so long to adjust. Take a look at Nintendo for evidence of this one step behind attitude. Perhaps this is why those few japanese developers that are thriving are the likes of Mistwalker, Sega, Capcom, Atlus, who pay more attention to their fanbase, in and outside of japan and take more chances. All of them have a very forward thinking attitude and adjusted well to global market conditions.

I used to have a lot more faith in SE, but I don't think they are talented enough to lead the games industry, and I totally now understand why Sakaguchi left them. Games like Lost Odyssey, Fable 2 and Mass Effect have shifted the bar high for rpgs, and SE still are not taking the hint.

My advice to japanese developer.
1: Try something new and don't be afraid to experiment. While development costs are high for modern games, the likes of XNA, WiiWare and PSN give all developers a cheaper option, to try out new ideas on the cheap.

2: Invest in developing and using your own 3d graphics engines, to help push the limits of your games, or invest in outside engine licenses.

3: Don't get complacent and draw series out for too long. If you find a successful series to be selling, always strive to do better than your last game, as well as different where possible. We can only stomach so much FF, Square.
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OptimusP 3 Sep 2008 23:06
To all Japanese game companies, please ignore whatever square-enix says and keep pumping out those funky punk games that no western developer has been able to reproduce *loving glare to suda51*.

Also, please do not listen to Joji because i don't want any of them go pull a Capcom or SEGA and go entirely retarded and just copy wetern games (hello Resident Gears of Evil War 5!) that only the pseudo-hardcore go bonkers over.

I would like to take Treasure as a fine example of a japanese team that keeps pushing itself in making the most kick-ass games they can with a very small team, all with their very own quirks and unique feature sets. Now if only they would make Sin of Punishment 2 on the Wii...just announce the damn thing, we all know you're making it!!!

Thank god the Wii exists to give all those independent punk japanese teams a chance to release complete bonkers games to a huge market. Just don't do anything retarted and make Xbox360 or PS3-versions because they will bomb so hard on those two.
way 4 Sep 2008 03:37
Was it really ever? Pity England is no longer ;) .

They are really a bit market compared to the world, that have their own gaming desires and publishers.

Sure they gave money to buy Japanese hardware, but look at the amount of PC hardware bought for games.
mrAnthony 4 Sep 2008 07:48
while i do agree that there are too many final fantasies et al that are being thrown at us these days. i dont completely agree with some of your points.

they have tried some new things, look at the world ends with you, or the wiiware version of crystal chronicles.

final fantasy 13 uses their own engine, though as you mentioned, they are NOW going to be using the unreal engine for the next installment. lame. but hey

final fantasy 12, was actually really good btw, very very different from any other game in the series, but still very final fantasy. the best gameplay mechanics in the series, and a storyline that wasnt all about a moody protagonist that falls in love at some point, even though it has nothing to do with the story.
OptimusP 4 Sep 2008 18:38
mrAnthony wrote:

final fantasy 12, was actually really good btw, very very different from any other game in the series, but still very final fantasy. the best gameplay mechanics in the series, and a storyline that wasnt all about a moody protagonist that falls in love at some point, even though it has nothing to do with the story.

Explain to me how a gamePLAY mechanic that consists of the game PLAYING completely on itself can be considered the best gamePLAY mechanic of any series...
deleted 4 Sep 2008 20:15
Final fantasy VII was by far the best game mechanics, very simple a good concept of collecting materia to enhance your skills and summons were awesome, ever since the PSone games it has become far to techincal, although i did like FF12 that s only becaue i like them all except for 11 and FFVIII trading caqrd game was amazingly good!
mrAnthony 5 Sep 2008 08:03

because, you didnt HAVE to let the game play by itself for one, and two, it was a quicker paced version of the old ATB, which lets be honest is very dated, and if you play ff 7 now, it feels quite laboured in the battle sections (still one of my favourite games ever btw, so dont go mental on me)

thats why.

it felt fun to fight, rather than tedious.

mrAnthony 5 Sep 2008 08:05
oh and if the game is PLAYING by itself, its still gamePLAY, just not YOU playing :-p

in fact, isnt that the definition of gameplay. the GAME PLAYING by itself

pleaseeeee, pleaseeee realise im joking around.

Tim Smith 5 Sep 2008 08:51
mrAnthony wrote:
pleaseeeee, pleaseeee realise im joking around.


If we are getting to the point where we have to explain that we're joking, well, hell, we may as well just move to America!

And who the flip decided that a climate like that from the most over-rated Sci-Fi movie ever was called for? I mean, it was like Blade Runner when I took the sub out of the underwater castle to get the Yak milk for Mark and Andy's tea.

Yours, off topic,

mrAnthony 5 Sep 2008 11:01
you know how people can be sometimes.

i unlike some people, aren't here to kick up a stink.

Joji 5 Sep 2008 23:38
In reply to Haritori, dude I love a lot of japanese games still, but there's no denying that FF is too much. Its been hard for me to realise what I say and take of the ''Square are rpgs god and can do no wrong fanboy shades''. I guess those fans will forever be happy and jaded to the real picture.

Sure, its a business but I'm a buyer and still entitled to say no. Face it, Square are now very broken. Behind the legion of androgenous heroes the haven't a clue and have lost their way (don't believe me, fine, but for a developers that has grown and merged with another, they make much less and varied product than before, take a look and see what they used to make). And the most dangerous thing of all about this, is that many other japanese developers watch what they do and copy them.

The real bastion of japanese development lies with the small outfits now IMO, the Inis, Atlus, Vanillaware, even Mistwalker.

I'll be bagging Chrono Trigger on DS and Parasite Eve 3 on PSP. It still amazes me how it takes ages to get these.

The Capcom similarities you might not understand properly but I'll elaborate. Capcom are very good at communicating with their fans. Square on the other hand, like Nintendo have very selective hearing. I fear the tentacles of the Sony have infected them too deeply.

As for outsourcing, if you can afford it like Square, its not the evil deed you might think. Square know their strength is in rpgs, but they could easily outsource say Einhander or Front Mission for action games, stop and imagine that. And these wouldn't really have to be to western developers either. Wouldn't you play a Front Mission action game? I'd love to.

The reason this is less likely to happen is because of the Sony tentacle infection. This is also why Squarony want to sell you their FFXIII demo dvd, and then bundle it with the Blu Ray release of Advent Children and sell it again. F**k that.

Did you see that Square wanting to merge with Tecmo? I'm glad Tecmo said no, because they know that if that were to happen, Tecmo's product take a large back seat, just like Enix, and its the FF show all the way. Post Itagaki, things are gonna get interesting for Tecmo. Koei are a better merger bet, with more chance of all their IP having near equal footing.

Square Enix are dead, long...or rather short live Squarony.

Enough of my ranting. Hey, just my opinion, feel free to disagree.

mrAnthony 6 Sep 2008 11:24
didn't square just give away the last beacon of light that the ps3 had. (apart from LBP) i wouldn't say that is a company that has any kind of tentacle inbedded in it.

i am not disagreeing with you on the most part though, i am a huge FF fan, though i wouldn't buy many non canon pieces of software. tactics, i've dabbled. chronicles i had a very passing interest, but generally i like the numbered offerings.

and yes, most of their games rock the androgynous protagonist, with the lost memory/troubled past etc etc. but its unfair to say that they are all that way. take my life as a king, take the world ends with you, even take crisis core, which lets be fair here (pun not intended) Zack is a great main character, he is so, well, normal. he is just a guy. which works in the story, very well.

also, i think its a little unfair in mentioning the rose tinted glasses (of sorts) as who are you, or me, or anyone, to dictate what someone likes, some may LIKE all the conventions, the familiarity, etc, thats maybe why they like those games. some might even like those 50 cent games, for example, who are we to say they cant.

anyway, whatever, everyone has their opinions.
deleted 6 Sep 2008 11:40
While i agree FFXIII was a huge loss to sony its not really the last beacon of light, though is it as it stands right now Kingdom Hearts 3 is looking to be a PS3 exclusive, witha possible Wii spin on it, As you mention LBP, Home when it ever arrives will attract people and a lot of devs are now realising the potential of the system a lot more games will be coming PS3 only way!, but dont get me wrong, as of rigfht now i couldnt care less if my PS3 was or wasnt under my TV as nothign has any interest for me, Even MGS4 was a disapointment, the Cutscenes and Installs just ruinded the experince for me, i was really looking forward to a MGS like the PSone MGS experinec but once again it never came, Same for GTA4 which yes graces both consoles, but this year games are more hype and the good.

edit forgive the spelling i cant be arsed going back through and changing it.
mrAnthony 6 Sep 2008 12:02
im just saying it was the last big big big worldwide "hardcore" exclusive that sony had, and now doesn't. is all.

so it seems like it was the last message sent to "gamers" that 360 is the place to go.

but hey i dont have a 360 (shock horror) so what do i know.

ps, i used to have a 360, but actually sold it to buy a ps3. ha!

i do like it more though. hmm, weird. maybe its because i had to go into some random japanese guys bethnal green flat, in a really dodgy estate, to buy the 360. or maybe i just not like green.
mrAnthony 6 Sep 2008 12:04
oh one other thing. you mention mistwalker being one of the shining lights of jrpgs, ad mention square enix, doing the same old thing.

weren't both of mistwalkers games, achingly "retro" in their game design. and weren't both disappointing?

im not lambasting (great word) anyone here. im actually asking.
deleted 6 Sep 2008 12:08
whats wrong with the older battle systems? seriously all this innovation of JRPG`s is ruining them in my opinion, i loved taking turns to fight sure you would more often than not die and have to play through 30 hours again to get back but it was the strats that made it so awesome, Hence why Lost Oddessy on 360 is so good.
mrAnthony 6 Sep 2008 12:41
ok fair enough. horses for courses 'n' all.

though i dont know where this "will have to play through another 30 hours" comes from. just because you have a more fluid battle system doesnt mean when you die in a battle you'd have to play through a bunch of the same section of game.

surely thats the save system you mean to bash, thats nothing to do with a battle system.

and i find, also that i die just as much in old fashioned battle system as new. thats just the way the game is built. if there is a cheap boss that can kill you in one hit, will happen in a turn based game, or an active game, no matter which system is being used.

deleted 6 Sep 2008 13:28
was refferring to FF7 how (ok wasnt 30 hours) but easily have to go back 2 hours on some parts as the save system wasnt brilliant.
RiseFromYourGrave 7 Dec 2008 22:14
got to admit, i thought FF12 was a large step in the right direction, or at very least a valiant effort at modernising the jprg genre. pity it was just star wars and still full of androgens, but the androgens thing i guess is a cultural difference that i wont see change in my life time at least so must accept. the star wars bit is unforgivable.

still if they can sort the story out and keep the forward thinking ill be all over FF13!

as for japan as the gaming hub of the world in general, could anyone say it was and keep a straight face? by my definition japan was always the gaming mecca because it made the best games, set the trends.. it still has all the history and makes some good games, not to mention 2 of the current consoles, but ill be a bitch if the west is not releasing a landslide more AAA titles than japan.

dont be so embarassed japan, youre not getting swamped just because youre stale, its also a whole bearing versus one country!

<edit> and MrAnthony, i thought that when Mistwalker were mentioned as being original.. werent they all but contracted by MS to produce traditional jrpgs for the xbox to improve xbox's standing in japan? i heard blue dragon was the biggest grind ever

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