Fez creator on modern Japan: ‘Your games suck’

The internet reacts.

March 6, 2012 / 02:11 PM EDT / (@salromano)

Polytron boss and Fez creator Phil Fish sparked controversy with a statement towards Japanese games at the Game Developers Conference in San Francico today. 

Following a screening of Indie Game: The Movie, in which Fez and two other indie titles are featured, the developer took part in a Q&A with the audience. When asked by a Japanese developer his thoughts on modern Japanese games – as older titles from the country, such as Zelda and Mario, have had great influence on the western world of game development – Fish immediately replied, “your games just suck.”

While part of the crowd cheered at Fish’s remark, others “looked on awkwardly,” according to Develop, as the Japanese developer was then “subjected to a string criticisms about game design flaws in his native country.”

Looking over to Fish’s Twitter account, he stands by his statement.

“It’s not about right or wrong. It’s just a personal opinion,” he said in one tweet.

“I’m sorry Japanese guy! I was a bit rough, but your country’s games are fucking terrible nowadays,” he said in another.

On the opposition, Twitter user Hayden Scott-Baron tweeted, “Appalling to hear developers at GDC cheering at ‘Japanese games suck’ comments. Ignorant developers are bad for the industry.”

Phil responded that he shouldn’t take things out of context, to which Twitter user Jake said it’s “pretty hard to see how “your games just suck” can look good in any context.”

To another user, Phil responded, “I stand by what I said. Most modern Japanese games are terrible. You can quote me on that.”

“Japanese games are just two western games duct-taped together,” read another tweet.

“Appalling” or not, what is your take on the matter? Was Fish’s statement out of line?

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  • Revorse

    That is ridiculous.

  • Kougeru

    I’ve never even heard of “Fez” until now lol. I guses it won some awards from some random companies or something so he thinks he’s better than everyone. Armored Core is a great Japanese franchise tho pretty niche, Tales is freaking amazing, ANYTHING from “Platinum” (infinite space, bayonetta), RE games are USUALLY pretty damn good, visual novels are emotional rollarcoaster rides, Konami games RARELY fail…Metal Gear franchise, Castlevania….I can go all day. This guy is just ignorant by grouping all Japanese games together. he later says “most” which is still and overstatement. ignorant. he should actually PLAy the games before bashing them. fez looks like crap but i wont say it is until i actually play it (definitely not my style of gameplay tho)

  • Kage

    While he is ignorant and wrong he (unintentionally) moved one crucial point.

    Japanese games , mainly JRPGs, are on the serious decline in terms of quality and artstyle.

    Developers stopped trying to fit in that line between west and east and went with easy catering to otaku and alikes.

    You have artstyle/direction choices taken straight from generic anime #3243534 that you cannot remember for your life instead of classy and memorable stuff.

    Elements like dating sim,”cute females”,shallow and easy gameplay have overtaken the industry as a whole.

    And while there are some exceptions to the rule, it’s kinda looking bad in the overall perspective.

    • Kougeru

      @Kage: that’s really only one genre. and I can say the same thing about all the buff “Space marine” archtype characters in western games. majority of western games,including western fps…tend be military focused with steroid-filled main characters that try too hard to be bad ass. There’s also nothing “wrong” with anime art-style. thats purely opinion. it doesnt make a game “suck” all the complaining i just did about big buff military archtypes, I still enjoy the games that have them. OVERALL, the Japanese gaming industry does not “suck”. just like anywhere else, you just have to find something that fits your tastes. They dont make FPS games which is the biggest seller in the West so most of their games dont even make it overseas, but what does is usually quality goods.

      • Kage

        @Kougeru: Well that’s because Japan doesn’t have the market for FPS games.That “games everyone and their mother buy no matter how bad/good they are” niche is already filled by Nintendo games (mostly Pokemon) and Monster Hunter franchise.And of course Buff Mc.Manly space marines artstyle is horrible but I wasn’t talking about this.It’s irrevelant to the argument itself.Many JRPG fans feel like this ,even in Japan.There won’t be next game like Final Fantasy Tactics or Vagrant Story because as I said, the market audience unfotunately changed.

  • Malcolm Reynolds

    “Your games suck”
    says the bearded hipster garage developer who made a game in 2012 that looks like a game that was built for a Japanese system from 1985.

    Shocker…coming from a dev who is making an exclusive on an all American console….ironically a console that for 2 generations has been an utter failure in the country he now bashes.

    This guy can kiss my yellow Asian ass.

  • vertical09

    I actually wanna see this troll crash and burn!

  • InternatlGamer3

    What an ASshole he should STFU as a matter of fact I won’t buy this game from him cause of his comment. He’s a youngster who thinks he’s the best though he’s making 1 downloadable game

  • rockman29

    I agree with him. I don’t know what all the complaining is about.

    Japanese games in the past were so revered, because they were beyond the scope of Western games in so many different contexts.

    The same cannot even remotely be said here. Japanese developers are still playing catch up.

    • Malcolm Reynolds

      @rockman29: You and I typically agree but not today. This guy is a cocky douche and has nothing on his resume to allow him a free pass on such an outlandish, generalized, borderline racist but wholly ignorant statement.

      For God sakes your avatar and screen name on Gematsu are based on a JAPANESE franchise!

      Aretha Franklin’s voice is not near as amazing today as it was 30 years ago…..I wouldn’t dare be so cocksure an ass to tell her her voice sucks now.

      Same can be said here….Japan….whether you agree or not, or have simply succumb to the bandwagon hate SquareEnis has garnered this gen….Japan still makes fantastic games that at times continue to drive the industry forward with innovations and forward thinking.
      Asura’s Wrath is quite fun….albiet a glorified QTE….still fun none the less. Mario Land 3D is quite good……RE Revelations is fantastic as well….both Japanese. In fact…..The Wii and 3DS, both leaders in HW sales in their target markets are Japanese made….the Vita…arguably the sexiest piece of gaming tech ever made is from Sony who are also Japanese.

      I understand being disappointed that JRPG’s are no longer king like they once were but they are by no means all garbage either. To lump ALL Japanese games into 1 single category and say they all suck is ludicrous and offensive and does nothing but make Western devs look like complete asses.
      I mean…its not like ol’Phil just put out Uncharted 2…..he is developing a downloadable xbla title with 8bit graphics for chrissakes. A downloadable title which will never see my money.

      Oh…and “Playing catchup” =/= sucking

      • anime10121

        @Malcolm Reynolds: I agree with everything this guy just wrote!

      • rockman29

        @Malcolm Reynolds: That’s not what I mean. I didn’t mean to say I agree with exactly what he says (whcih I admit I did say), but I agree with him in the sense I don’t like the way Japanese games play today. But believe me I think this applies just as much, if not more, to Western games. If you throw Syndicate at me and all the hullabaloo about how amazing it is I will be even more cynical than I will be towards Japanese games I feel frustrated with.

        I love Policenauts. I love Metal Gear Solid. At the time of release, I feel those games played FAR better than Western equivalents. I am still part of the camp that MGS has FAR better gameplay than Splinter Cell in every department.

        But to be honestly I don’t give a squat about how Western developers are developing either. I think Western developers have been developing games poorly for years and years, especially in terms of RPG gameplay (see: BioWare).

        I think Japanese and Western developers are both not performing well, if you want my full opinion.

        I do think Japanese developers are still playing catch up. Other than Capcom, I feel like a lot of Japanese developers have not figured out an efficient way to develop games for modern hardware.

        I agree that Mario and Zelda are still good games, but in terms of Nintendo’s current contributions to gaming I feel they could still be doing more. That is a whole different topic, because I feel that is very different from other Japanese game developers not really changing their gameplay today (see: Koei and others).

        P.S. Don’t give me so little credit that I just jumped on the bandwagon for hating FF XIII. I paid $60 for that game. I had an absolute investment in needing that game to be good for my own sanity, and I hated it with every bone in my body. Give me that much credit for my opinion. I don’t mind if everyone else on this site liked it. I couldn’t stand it.

        P.P.S. ‘Playing catch-up’ in the way I phrased it does mean sucking. I said that because I think a lot of gameplay in Japanese games lately has not improved. I feel like they are experiencing not only pressure from the West to be action-oriented, but also SEVERE anxiety of influence over games from the past. Let alone the fact that Final Fantasy is a worshipped series, but also the fact that Resident Evil and others series are cult hits, and neither Japanese developers or Western developers are doing enough to recreate that success with real investment into new IPs. We are gettign the same recycled material, and a lot of it is, I feel, is just way too based on what we’ve already played.

        I know I’m being cynical, and I can’t explain all my feelings into one post so I’m going to apologize for that. But don’t believe I want to NOT like games from Japan, because that’s not it. A case in point to explain my feelings is that I feel that games from Japan on PS2, IMO, are better than Japanese games on PS3 for the most part. For example, I think MGS3 is a far, far better made game than MGS4. That is just my opinion and one of the examples of why I think Japanese developers are struggling to cope at this next generation level.

        Also this was a huge rant and I don’t have time to explain this fully, because I have to study micro and path. Also I didn’t mean to lump all games into one, but it is my general opinion of current games, and I do have similar feelings for both current Western and Eastern titles. Also case in point, Demon’s Souls does NOT match up with my generalization: from Japan, and also my favourite game this generation. Exception for Western: I really love Uncharted 2 and Twisted Metal, those neither fit my generalization.

  • sicksniper256

    beware: incoming rant (edit: ok you could read it if you want but i want my point heard so the list abridges that nicely)

    I find both east and west gaming to be a bit stagnant lately. I dislike the movement towards making games overly easy just to try to grab a ‘casual’ audience. I felt bad when the SOCOM franchise went away from its authentic roots and decided to go for more of a linear CoD-like action game just like so many other shooters have. That genre is becoming more and more generic every year. The games lack personality.

    Its not only shooters, it seems like many devs are just trying to make interactive action movies or something. The only games I have truly enjoyed for more than a month or two in the past few years have been Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls.

    I just feel like no one is trying to be innovative anymore. They are just building games by a formula.

    There also seems to be a movement towards making games ‘social’. I find it strange that they want to make multiplayer gaming more social yet they remove key features like lobby systems that allow a bit of downtime between games for idle chat and stuff. That was part of the appeal of playing the SOCOM series for me. How are you supposed to have a community in a game where you can’t really communicate freely outside of the actual gameplay? I remember when we could have 8-32 people all playing in an organized manner on a consistent basis and just have fun. Now without the old lobby systems we have trouble getting just 3 or 4 people to play.

    end of rant

    To sum up this rant to a few key points:

    1. Difficulty is being treated like a taboo by developers
    2. Too many devs are trying to follow a formula to mimic the most ‘successful’ games and are afraid to innovate
    3. Devs get too excited by the technology at hand and its capabilities to have intense action scenes that they neglect player involvement, gameplay, and story
    4. This new gamer and dev obsession with quickly starting multiplayer games allow little room for people to bond at any level and seems to actually encourage trash talking. (it is like they are making games for those with ADD or something)

    I do hope though that douchebag provokes the Japanese devs into doing something fresh and awesome… they still have their pride (don’t they?)

  • [光]

    lol, he can try to justify what he said however he wants but all he was really doing was taking advantage of the situation to stir controversy and create the allusion that he matters. There’s really only one reason why you would answer a question like that in such a brash manner… It was an attempt to garner attention for himself. I guess it worked.

    Sad that he felt he had to resort to intentionally offending people to get that attention. What else is new, lol. What a garbage industry. The indie side of things is clearly no exception. Turns out you end up seeing some pretty disappointing things when you give the little people in that industry a voice.

    • [光]

      @[光]: *illusion

  • vertical09

    @光: Very true, couldnt have said it better myself.
    It’ll be so funny to see his game flop after this ^^. In fact,IM HOPING FOR IT.

  • FaithlessMr

    I honestly don’t know what’s worse. This guy being uneducated and moronic, or the people who constantly push him to keep repeating his awkward and rather laconic argument.

    If I agree with him? No. He is entitled to his opinion. If I think he was professional in the way he did it? No, he was childish and trollish, no better than any other common forum troll/dweller. But right now, the guy’s just doing it for attention.

    So here’s what I’ll do…I’ll just move on, because…his opinion is simply…unimportant. To me, on a personal level at least. And I’m pretty sure that on a bigger scale, his opinion isn’t worth much. So….live and let live?

  • FinalFantasy_fangirl

    I really don’t care what he thinks what I find interesting are the developers who cheered. Critics have been showing their dislike of japanese games for quite sometime.

  • kiri25

    I can’t help but feel western dev’s feel threaten by japanese dev.’s.

    This is not the 1st time a western dev has come out and said some negative comment about japanese games. I’m not aware of any japanese dev. that has made a negative comment towards western games, tho i’m guessing its possible it just doesn’t see as much attention.

    Anyway comments like this are so unprofessional. Everyone is entitled to his/her own opinion, but to announce your opinion like this is so childish.

  • BizarreJelly

    Yeah his game isn’t going to fail lol have any of you seen fez? It’s a beautiful looking little gem, very unique and is destined to be a hit. It’s pretty pathetic to wish failure on someone for expressing their opinion anyway.

    I really don’t understand the issue here, he gave his opinion in a frank manner… So what? I do it all the time. Racing games suck, see? Is that going to start a shitstorm? No, because it’s just my opinion.

    I’m also finding it hard to disagree with him after suffering Neptunia mk2 lol that’s left a bad taste in my mouth :P

    • zerolegacy0

      @BizarreJelly: I’ll give you my opinion in a frank manner. I think your understanding of the situation is quite naive. I also think your avatar and handle name are incredibly stupid. I think all of your opinions are inane.

      You can’t get mad at me because that’s just my opinion.
      (Do you see my point?) No, I don’t mean any of that I just wrote, So don’t be offended.

      • BizarreJelly

        @zerolegacy0: I’m not offended lol found it amusing :) I see where you’re coming from but I do think this is just another blown out of proportion internet crapstorm. Wouldn’t say i’m naive, i’m just not bothered by this on a whole. I kind of find the brutal honesty refreshing in a way, too much pussy footing around these days(not that i’d prefer it if everyone was brutally honest, we’d all be destroying each other).

  • vertical09

    @BizarreJelly: *Damn, no way to rate a comment down*
    Stating your opinion is one thing.
    Belittling a person by saying their culture’s games suck in front of a person of that culture is another.
    He’s the type of person who thinks his opinion (if you can even call it that) is fact and everything else is BS.

    Yeah, MK2 wasnt the best, but why would you group that in with all the other jrpg’s out there?
    *sigh* im done with this topic.

    • BizarreJelly

      @vertical09: Yeah the thumbs down system was removed because it was abused by morons who didn’t like it when someone thought differently from them, turned into a glorified way of bullying. Bit of a double standard there huh? Oh I don’t like your opinion so i’ll thumbs it down and potentially get it marked as spam, yeah get over yourself. “He’s the type of person” is he? I don’t know him but you must know him pretty well to point out how he is.

      As for my MK2 comment, at what point did I group it with any other jRPGs? It’s a Japanese game, it’s current, I used it as an example. Don’t put words in my mouth. *stupid internet role play expression*

  • Matthew Frassetti

    …I guess he decided to choose the “Renegade” prompt here.

  • Zero

    As soon as I read the headline to the article, I knew the comments section would explode.

    If you have ever been one to read my comments on this site, which I tend to rant and drag them out sometimes. So, apologies in advance.

    I tend to be quite passionate about Japan and the games they create. Others on this site are as well. Some are quick to bash and hate, and others are quick to respond to that with more hate.

    Mr. Fish didn’t just spark controversy, dudes mouth overloaded his ass. And I expect that he will apologize or bring some clarity in the future.

    When he does, I won’t really care. He could have ended this and brought some clarity to it via twitter right away.

    I presume he meant to criticize Japan, and some of the games they have released lately.

    Instead he just comes off as rude, your games just suck in my opinion, and I’m gonna act like an ass while I tell you all about it!

    I doubt he or many people who are making games today, would be without Japan. I doubt many people playing games today, would have started playing video games without Japan.

    It was very disrespectful, and just because Japan is not dominating the industry currently, does not mean we should forget the past.

    The developers in Japan did so much for video games, and they still do. The games they made affected people.

    So many developers would not be working on games right now if it wasn’t for Japanese games. Most of us would not be posting on this site about video games, which we all love.

    It’s like making dinner for a child, and they grow up on these meals. Eventually they learn from you and others how to cook. One day the child comes to visit you, and when asked how dinner is they respond, your dinner just sucks. And then they go on to bitch about how they haven’t liked anything you cooked in years.

    I brought that comparison up because I think it relates to some peoples opinion on games.

    One thing to always consider is that your taste can always change. Regardless if were talking about food, or video games, or even people.

    Sometimes the cook decides to make an old meal in a new way.

    Have developers in Japan changed, or have you changed? Perhaps you are no longer the fan of Japanese games that you once were.

    Perhaps the writing and game design has changed? Maybe the developers in Japan are not getting the chance to make the games they want?

    All of these questions should be asked before just spewing a bunch of nonsense in public and then trying to defend what you said.

    He could have shared his opinion without acting like a total ass.

    Have the games being developed in Japan really changed though? To even being to answer that question, one must reword that question and up the anti.

    Video Games, has the industry changed? Has the process of developing a game changed? Have developers changed? Have publishers changed? Has the consumer, the “gamers” who buy and play the games changed?

    I think all of those questions must be answered with a yes. A definitive yes at that.

    When gaming really started to take off and become more than a hobby, the big business side of things decided to join the party.

    I’m not saying gaming was for nerds or geeks, but we can all admit that many people actually imagined gamers as being that. (Some still do.)

    I’m going to put this next part in a spoiler. It’s about my experiences with gaming growing up. Since it is borderline off topic, I’ll put it in a spoiler tag for those that only want me to get to the point. I’m trying to! Really! ^^

    (Apparently spoiler tag won’t hide that much text lol, so I’m using quote. Sorry about wall of text.)

    I even enjoyed gaming because of that, personally. I was doing something I loved, and even at a young age I was proud of my hobby. I didn’t care what people said.

    When I had free time, I spent every second of it that I could playing video games. I just couldn’t get enough of it.

    I admit that when you are young, you are very impressionable. Most young folks tend to have heroes. People they want to be, or wish they could be. I always wanted to be the hero in the games I played.

    I quickly became obsessed with role playing games, so those were the games that dominated my playtime.

    I never owned a Nintendo or SNES or Genesis. My step dad had an Atari and Colecovision that he let me play sometimes. I wanted to play better games though.

    I would sneak in and play his games without permission often.

    Eventually I got in enough trouble that I was forced to stop sneaking in and playing.

    When he finally separated from my mom, he decided to give me his SNES. No games, just the system.

    Up the road we had a local movie rental place. It was quite awful, for me to realize this at a young age says a lot lol.

    One thing they did have was games to rent, and I would look at the cartridges and try to guess which game to rent. The first games were easy for me. Super Mario and Zelda Link to the Past.

    I had already played some of these games, and really wanted to have my shot at finishing them. (Step dad played them, but never let me.)

    I loved both of them, but Link to the Past was and still is very special to me. No secret that it’s one of my favorite games of all time, and the effect it had on my childhood was positive.

    My mother was poor, and we didn’t have money. We managed to have a home and food only because of her disability checks.

    I couldn’t afford to very well rent games often. That little movie rental place closed up. I really didn’t have a way to play or obtain more SNES games.

    Lucky for me, one of my best friends moved into my neighborhood. At the time I had no idea, but we were destined to be great friends. And video games played a role. Specifically one game, from Squaresoft called Chrono Trigger.

    He let me borrow it, and I quickly became obsessed with the game. It was the best game I had ever played. That’s what I remember thinking. I still love and adore the game today.

    It changed my views on games, as a youngster I never imagined that games could be like CT was. Story and Character driven, emotional, rewarding.

    It was the longest game I ever played, and even then I was determined to complete it. I wanted to see everything the game has to offer.

    My friend and his brother both loved the game, and they gave me tips on how to unlock all the endings and secrets.

    I knew from that point on, that RPGs were my favorite genre of video games. And I wanted to play every game from these Squaresoft dudes.

    I could go on with this story, but I’ll end it here.

    Video Games changed into a billion dollar industry. I figured things were going to change, but even I could not have imagined just how much.

    You don’t see many new innovative AAA titles because of this. The publishers are more in control than ever before.

    I have carried on long enough with this post. My point is, we can’t forget the past.

    I mentioned in my spoiler above, Chrono Trigger was a very important game to me. It changed my life, and my views on video games.

    If the game had never been released, my life would be different.

    I will never forget that.

    Japanese Games are in a transition period. I hope the publishers over there just back off the developers. And let the developers make the games they want to make.

    Despite all of this, I still enjoy Japanese Games, very much.

    I don’t think Japan has stopped making fun games, not one bit.

    • Malcolm Reynolds

      @Zero: This is the longest post in internet history me thinks.

      That said….I still read it. I did not fall in love with RPG’s until I discovered FF7 at about age 17. Now my collection contains about 40% RPG’s out of close to 700 games. My all time fave genre.

      I should add….that’s JRPGs and not that boring drivel they call WRPG’s.

      Japan still makes games that make me feel like a child and while some of the best games this gen are indeed Western developed, it by no means is an indication that Japan has stopped making amazing SW….it just means that the West is finally catching up to the East.

      • Zero

        @Malcolm Reynolds:

        Thanks for reading it. :) (And thanks for the response!)

        I tried to hide some of it in a spoiler tag, it just failed lol. I’ve had longer posts before, honest. :)

        FF7 was also a very special game for me, like you it was a key factor in my future game purchases.

        I think I bought every game Square released for the Playstation. (Which was the first console I truly owned.)

        I look back on that time in my life with very fond memories, those were some great games.

        So much so, that I still think the PS1 was my favorite console for RPGs. SNES and PS2 had some impressive ones as well, but the PS1 still takes the prize for me.

  • GAMEMASTER

    Bold lol, but he was just stating his opinion and I have to agree. I love japanese games, but I noticed Japanese developers have been slacking for a few years, and western developers are no diferent, there in the same boat.

  • xMCXx

    God, he’s such a hipster.
    And an asshole, too. He can state his opinion, but not like this.

  • DrForbidden

    I had never even heard of Fez. And I have no intention of buying it now that I have (not that I would have an interest in crap like Fez even if he had never said anything douchey – it looks like a $0.99 smartphone game). Fish is basically an internet fan-fiction writer who self-published some of his writings calling modern Japanese literature garbage.

  • kiri25

    Yea after seeing the game it looks like crap and something i would nvr have purchased. Its quit clear this comment was meant just to bring attention to his game, tho idk y seeing how bad it looks. Anyway thats just my opinion, i’m sure their are some ppl out there that will really like fez.

  • whiteferrero

    this* fails on so many levels that I won’t even bother making an argument.

  • http://www.gametrailers.com/factions/FoKHF/?action=news DarthXehanort

    Never buy games from this clown. I know I won’t. He just wants attention for his poor game.

  • designerhyo

    honestly could give a shit about what most people say in situations like this, except for when it’s people classifying games by country.

    I think people don’t realize how large and incohesive countries actually are? even saying japanese-styled games makes more sense than being able to say modern japanese games suck. this kind of generalization is simply impossible due to the outrageous amount of variety and quantity out there when it comes to commercial/non-commercial games these days.

    sorta understand what he is getting at, but since it was stated in a very american close-minded ‘world revolves around only things I know of’ fashion…it kinda loses my respect.

  • Leonix7791

    Some1 is craving for some attention :( sad

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

    Games are games, and they are either good or bad. Both western and japanese companies make terrible games, and both make excellent ones as well. Terrible arguments all round.