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.”