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Japanese devs stuck in negative spiral, says Xenoblade Chronicles director

"It seems to me that building the entire world of the game itself is considered one must-have element for Western RPGs nowadays, but that just can’t be done in the current Japan scene."
"It seems to me that building the entire world of the game itself is considered one must-have element for Western RPGs nowadays, but that just can’t be done in the current Japan scene."

- Xenoblade Chronicles X executive director and Monolith Soft founder Tatsuya Takahashi.

Xenoblade Chronicles X executive director and Monolith Soft founder Tatsuya Takahashi recently sat down with Time to talk about the highly anticipated sequel to one of the most well-received Wii games of all time, and touch upon the differences between game development in the East and the West. 

Shedding some light on the goals of developers based in Japan, Takahashi explained that a lot of Japanese RPGs are budgeted so that they'll more than likely make a profit off sales within Japan alone. 

According to Takahashi only a few releases subvert that formula, and it's becoming a huge problem.

“It seems to me that building the entire world of the game itself (making it open-world) is considered one must-have element for Western RPGs nowadays, but that just can’t be done in the current Japan scene," explains Takahashi.

"But lately, I’ve started to wonder about whether this is really just because of budgetary issues. I think this is probably due to differences in cultural tastes, but in the current situation, it’s difficult to take content created in Japan and have it accepted in the West. 

"As a result, you can only create things scaled to make money within Japan alone, and it becomes this negative spiral."

To break the cycle Japanese developers must start taking cues from their Western counterparts and dare to venture outside of their comfort zone.

"Japanese tastes are unique compared to those in the West, so if you focus solely on gamers within Japan, you’ll always find yourself running into this problem,” continues Takahashi

"This may be a surprise to hear, but I don’t have very much interest in 'current' Japanese anime and games, and I don’t play them, either. 

"Most of the movies, TV dramas, novels, and games I pick up are made in the West. I don’t do this deliberately; that just turned out to be the kind of thing I like. As a result, I’ve come to the realization that it’s best to try and organically make the kind of things I like, or want."

Read the full interview over on Time.

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