Mega Man Creator Leaves Capcom, Calls for Changes in Japanese Video Game Industry

Mega Man

I’m getting a bit of an EA Louse flashback here, only with less tantrum.

For those who are not aware, Keiji Inafune is the creator of the popular Mega Man franchise, and has been a producer at Capcom for the better part of the last decade. Not only did he create the legendary character formerly known as Rockman, he also worked on Dead Rising, Onimusha, Lost Planet, Street Fighter 2, and Resident Evil 4 and 5. Needless to say, he’s been a staple at Capcom. Which is why it’s a shame to hear that he’s leaving the company, which he announced just last week.

Inafune has actually been critical of Capcom on numerous occasions in the past. He hasn’t always been happy with the direction of the company, and has been vocal about trying to change some of its culture. However, it seems he’s finally decided to part ways and take his talents elsewhere.

And for those of you who want the dirty details, he had some particularly biting things to say about both Capcom and the Japanese gaming industry as a whole.

Here are some quotes from a recent interview with 4Gamer.

The reason why I’m quitting is basically because I think that the game industry itself must change the way it goes about making games. You might think I’m being hypocritical, but the really big wall that the Japanese game industry is hitting is the changing of its creators into salarymen… My generation is, for better or worse, holding the game industry back.

There are a lot of people who take their company’s commitment for granted and don’t work as hard as they should. This could be said of the entire industry, and of course Capcom is no exception…

I was in the position of being a naysayer, and yet was assured a paycheck the next month. No matter how much one is late or skips work, or even no matter how lousy a game is made, the next month’s paycheck was always guaranteed… In short, it’s like a communist state. Working as hard as you can is your own loss. Not working hard becomes more advantageous. But doesn’t that get in the way of making games? You can’t make good games by just taking it easy.

Inafune goes on to elaborate that in the old days, making a mediocre game could still net you the sales you needed to continue in development and make money. These days, though, the competition has shifted into fierce territory, and he criticizes Japanese game makers for sitting on their laurels and letting it pass them by. I do think it’s interesting that more and more Japanese developers are calling out the system for the way it’s working (or not working, as it were). It does seem that there is an old school way of thought there that hasn’t caught up with the Western game development that’s rapidly outpacing it.

So what do you guys think of these quotes from Inafune? Does he have a point? Is he just whining? Is he a hypocrite for being part of it and not doing anything about it until now? Is this just another EA Louse but with a face?

Source – NeoGAF

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4 thoughts on “Mega Man Creator Leaves Capcom, Calls for Changes in Japanese Video Game Industry”

  1. It’s certainly an interesting one. I wouldn’t say Inafune is a hypocrite because at least he backed up his words in the end. In fairness he can say anything he wants about Capcom now and still get hired by pretty much any games company out there due to his track record with games but I believe he’s telling the truth and it didn’t come across like EA Louse’s bitching. I won’t say anything about the industry itself as I have not first hand experience, but I will say that this is alarming how many japanese designers (Inafune-san especially) seem to view it. Activision seems to be villified in the same way, but we all know that’s Bobby Kottick’s doing.

  2. Sounds a lot like the longstanding criticism of Japanese industries in general: there’s a “good ol’ boy” network at the top that takes care of it’s favored sons no matter the consequences.

    Wasn’t Kojima bitching about much the same thing recently? I seem to remember him complaining about how young Japanese designers weren’t competitive enough to match their western counterparts.

    This might be a perception thing to some extent since I’m sure there are a host of western developers collecting paychecks for making crappy games (Force Unleashed 2 braintrust, I’m looking your way) as well. With western developers taking over much of the market, the Japanese are still trying to explain how this could have happened. Much in the same way American auto manufacturers didn’t realize that consumer tastes had shifted towards smaller, more fuel efficient cars, the Japanese haven’t wholly accepted that consumer tastes have shifted towards game genres that have long been staples of western developers (first/third person shooters and sandbox open world games).

    Still, the argument about the faults of the business model is probably valid. Japan’s game industry was built during an era in which game consoles were an exclusively Japanese product. Microsoft really shook that model up and I think Japan has been struggling to adapt ever since.

  3. Inafune is right; the Japanese game industry has really stagnated in the last couple years. It’s quite depressing that, like he said, Japanese game developers are turning into salarymen or Communist workers. In Japan, most jobs are menial, punch-in-punch-out sources of income that you need to survive and be socially tolerable, and to lose the game industry to such mediocrity is like losing the one job that was exciting and valued ingenuity over status quo. Unfortunately, Japanese developers continue to crank out JRPG Over 9000: HD Remix despite people wanting to break free of the dead horse mold. Luckily, a good number of Western developers have realized that innovative games sell as long as the product is good, and in order to know when an innovation is good or not takes talent and luck, and moreover, support from the producer. While Bobby Kotick is certainly a tyrant, Activision developers continue to produce at least good games. I really hope fucking morons like Kotick don’t stagnate Western developers, and I also hope enough of these big name Japanese developers can get Japanese development companies to try to be a bit bolder or at least inspire the next generation of Japanese developers and producers to innovate.

  4. I am happy to see Inafune standing up against these giant game monoply. I seriously feel that everything in the gaming industry is shifting in a whole new front. For the creators of the Call of Duty Franchise, Infinity Ward really pushes the envelope. But the Publishers all they really seem to care for is the most money they can reap in a short time. I feel we need more competition in the game industry.

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