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Team Ninja's Hayashi: Japanese developers 'desperate to stay alive'

At E3, Gamasutra talks to the head of the Ninja Gaiden developer to find out why his game failed critically -- and he opens up about the malaise that is plaguing the Japanese development community.
As compared to the earlier games in the series, Ninja Gaiden III was a critical flop. It currently rests at an uncomfortable 58 out of 100 on Metacritic -- a topic Gamasutra previously explored. What went wrong? "It seems like we made a Japanese hamburger for the West," Yosuke Hayashi, head of Team Ninja, told Gamasutra during an interview this morning. "I feel like maybe, as a Japanese developer, we need to make good Japanese food... That's what people are wanting from a Japanese developer. What we made, it's an okay burger, but it may not be what people are wanting." He knows that in the future, he has to change things -- and he's well aware, also, that the industry has changed dramatically since he got his start at the Dead or Alive developer. He's showing the latest iteration of that franchise, as well as the Wii U version of Ninja Gaiden III, at E3 this week. Is there a future for Team Ninja? "Looking at the conferences, there weren't very many Japanese games that were talked about, or dealt with at the conferences. But maybe if the industry is going for that Hollywood blockbuster direction, we can offer something that's different," he said. "And maybe it doesn't get picked up by that, because that's Hollywood, but we can still offer solid entertainment, and make sure that it reaches the people that are looking for that solid entertainment." In his view, the state of the Japanese development community has become "desperate," with companies struggling to compete. "All Japanese developers are right now treading water, and doing everything they can just to basically stay above water," he said. But there might be a silver lining to this cloud, he mused. "We feel that actually, you're going to get an answer coming from that, because everybody is so desperate to stay there and stay alive that you're going to get answers for how to move forward and how to make things work in the future. That's the state the Japanese industry is in right now." The full interview with Hayashi, in which he discusses Ninja Gaiden III, Dead or Alive 5, and the state of the studio, will be forthcoming on Gamasutra. For more reports from E3 2012, be sure to check out Gamasutra's live coverage.

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