The following bit of a quote came from GDC after a screening of an indie games documentary. Fez developer Phil Fish was part of the Q & A panel present. An unidentified Japanese games developer, according to Develop, approached the panel during the session and praised the movie and its direction. He went on to ask about the panel’s opinion regarding the modern Japanese gaming scene.
That’s when Fish piped up with “your games just suck.”
There is a lot wrong with the response given up by Fish, but there’s also a line of truth within. To issue a blanket statement like an entire nation’s effort in any genre “sucks” is inherently wrong. There are always exceptions that disprove the line. Japan still produces exceptional gaming efforts, though they may not happen at the rate that they used to in the 80s, 90s and early 00s.
There’s no doubt in my mind that the best in games development has shifted from east to west; by and large, that’s the line of truth I point towards. Western made games appeal to the gaming majority better than those built in the east. That may be a result of more gamers finding the hobby in the west, or it may be a result of geocentric perspective. But, to say that one region of the world “sucks” at making games just seems foolish. Some Japanese developers may have lost ambition or vision, but the entire country is not devoid of creativity.
What of Team Ico and their work on The Last Guardian? How about Platinum Games and Vanquish? From Software and Dark Souls?
Ninja Theory and Enslaved? Japan is still producing wonderful games; maybe the JRPG genre is running dry for some, but the nation itself is still making fun titles.
Fish, from this writer’s stance, is just plain wrong.