Kojima: publishers “obsessed” with globalization
posted on 06.22.11 at 09:58 PM EST by (@salromano)

Speaking to Weekly Famitsu, Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima had some choice words for the western / eastern development debate. While many Japanese publishers and developers are aiming to globalize their services and products, Kojima asks a key question: “Do we really need to succeed worldwide?”

He continued: “That’s what I’m really wondering about. Everyone talks about overseas, overseas, but nobody’s really thinking about what needs to be done if we want to succeed. We get obsessed with thinking about worldwide because we’ve had previous success with games and anime worldwide, but none of those successes matter nowadays.

“When you’re making a game, it doesn’t matter what nationality the team is — I think there was a lack of understanding among Japanese developers on that issue. It all comes down to the team you have. Even if I brought in the best developer in the world, it won’t result in anything if nobody around him understands what he says,” said Kojima.

“It’s hard to feel this when you’re in Japan, but there is a gap opening between the West in terms of pure quality,” he said.

According to Kojima, business is a large part of the development process.

“Everything needs to be separate, down to the office and pay structure,” he adds. “There are loads of talented developers overseas, but you can’t get them unless you spend the money … It’s the difference between what you pay a Hollywood star versus a Japanese film star.”

Cultural differences also play a major role, but some fail to acknowledge them, said Kojima.

“To put it in an extreme fashion, Americans like games where you have a gun and you’re shooting at space aliens,” he said. “If you don’t understand why that’s fun, then you shouldn’t be making games for the world market; you don’t need to. I mean, Japanese people might say ‘Why space aliens?’, but Americans will counter with ‘What’s with these games featuring these feminine-looking boys fighting in Japan with these huge swords?’ It’s no wonder the target audience for a lot of games is getting so compartmentalized.”

Thanks, 1UP.

  • FinalFantasy_fangirl

    Wise words….

  • barklight

    thats so true…

  • Finalshoryuken

    Truer words has never been spoken so perfectly…..

  • zerolegacy0

    “Cultural differences also play a major role, but some fail to acknowledge them.”
    This is what it all boils down to:
    West = Realism
    East = Fantasy

    West+East =

  • Jackle

    Kojima, I knew there was a reason I liked you :D I wish everyone thought like him….

  • rockman29

    Some God damn sense! Sense, dammit, sense! Sustainability and dependable profit margins >>>>>>> high risk & low reward.

    The last time we heard this sense was back from Team Ninja, when they said they don’t develop for the West, but just try to make interesting games.

    Globalization and all this crap are buzzwords. Yes, sometimes we can be successful in all markets. Some games are so popular, they sell in the millions in every region. But this model of business does not apply to every type of game. Not every game can become a Super Mario, or an Angry Birds, of a Call of Duty and ride a neverending wave of global success. Not all products are appropriate for that, and it’s not even feasible to have every product do that! The whole world doesn’t buy one of everything for crying out loud. There is not always a magic solution to make any game or any game company successful WW, but there sure as hell are thousands and millions and billions of ways to make a good idea into a good game someone will want to play.

    • zerolegacy0

      @rockman29: Exactly! It’s like that old saying, “If you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one.”

      Japan should do what they do best. Look at the years they where most successful in gaming, they sure as hell weren’t catering to the West then were they? They basically broke into the world market by accident, with their own passion and culture.

  • RyougaZell

    This guy is my hero.

  • legendarydynasty1992

    Very wise words Kojima-san. I hope ALL Japanese developers take his advice. This gen is terrible due to alot of Japanese developers changing their ways. EX: Square making FF13 to cater to western gamers(but really they dumbed the game and changed it for noobs). No offence to anyone who loves FF13. Just an opinion.

    • Kobracon

      @legendarydynasty1992: I like 13 but completely agree. They tried to answer everyone’s cry for something ‘different’ to mix up the FF formula and they end up pissing alot of fans off by TOO much change instead…..

  • Kurai Warrior

    I swear to god I’m gonna go to Japan and hug him. He’s so on page with everything it’s amazing.

  • whiteferrero

    this is why all his games are great!

  • Zero

    I really like you Kojima! And if you announced ZoE 3 at TGS, I might just ask you out on a date.

    Normally I date girls and all, but sometimes you have to make exceptions and…

    Sorry about that, I’m not sure what came over me.

  • http://myanimelist.net/profile/PrinceHeir# PrinceHeir

    fully agree with him :D

    developers should go back into what made gaming is. FUN

    just design the game according to your accord and let the people decide if they like it or not. im sick and tired of japanese developers catering to the west, not only it’s not selling well but also the funds could have been used on their own IP.

    Mindjack, Quantum THeory, etc.

    seriously square is sooo guilty in this. they could have used those funds for bringing their old IP’s like Mana, Saga, Chrono, Vagrant Story etc…

    at least their on the right track with Eidos releasing their titles as representation of western gaming.

  • FAUNA

    Awesome. JAPANESE GAMES NEED TO BE DEVELOPED IN JAPAN, NOT ‘WESTERNIZED’, & SHOULD ALWAYS FEATURE A JAPANESE VOICE TRACK OPTION. Eastern stylization is better than boring western ‘realism’…

  • anime10121

    Damnit Japan! Listen to this man! The truth, he speaks it.

  • http://www.youtube.com/tezchi TezChi

    Finally some sense on the topic. Trying to find a middle ground is a sure fire way to lose what makes your game “special”. I have disliked the westernisation trend since it first started becoming prevelent, and I will continue to dislike it until it stops.

    If two gamers have different tastes, then simply agree that they have different tastes. Japanese games should never lose what makes them “Japanese” in the first place.

    • http://www.di.fm Spicy Chicken

      So true, I love Split/Second because it literally feels like a big budget Hollywood production, with all the ridiculous hyperbole that entails. I love Ridge Racer 7 because it’s RIDGE RACER. It feels like a proper Namco game, with all the strange quirks only an old school Namco fan would appreciate. (Neneko livery for the WIN! :P)

      Combine the two and you end up with an uninspired, unsatisfying demonstration in mediocrity that nobody loves. Compromise has it’s place in life, but the best games are what they are precisely because they DON’T compromise when it comes to style and creative direction/gameplay.

      At least people like Kojima see it with more logic than those caught up in the ‘westernization hysteria’, it gives me hope.

  • http://www.koffdrop.com Koffdrop

    I liked Kojima and his colleagues for their products before. I like him even more now that I’ve read this.

    We gamers see only a fraction of the process – the end result. But there is so much more to consider in business before you have a product that the public sees. Developers have no choice to see the business side and to take stock of that. They have to manage BOTH the business and creative side whereas we, as consumers, tend to only care about the creative side. As loudly as our views my be expressed, we have to remember that we only see a fraction of the whole picture.

    ““To put it in an extreme fashion, Americans like games where you have a gun and you’re shooting at space aliens,””

    I can see this getting Kojima some bad press because gamers and many game journalists are so insular when labelling others that we hardly ever consider that we are just as easily labelled and critiqued. On the whole, we like to dish it out but we’re not so good at taking it. :)