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Inafune: Japanese Publishers Turning Creators Into 'Salarymen'

Mega Man creator Keiji Inafune, who recently announced his departure from longtime employer Capcom, candidly said in a new interview, "My generation is ... holding the game industry back."
In his final year at Capcom, Mega Man creator Keiji Inafune started to become as well known for his criticisms of the Japanese game development industry as for his games. Now that he's left Capcom, he further expressed where he feels the Japanese game industry is struggling. "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," he said in an interview with Japanese website 4Gamer [Google translation], posted in complete form on gaming forum NeoGAF. "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," Inafune said. He decried the fact that developers at the companies work with a sense of security -- knowing that lifetime employment is an option spoils game creators, and creates a system where "not working hard becomes advantageous." "When I was about 20, I was really passionate and entered the game industry, but now I'm in my mid-40s. It's a matter of my age. My generation is, for better or worse, holding the game industry back." The 23-year Capcom veteran's last position at the company was head of global production, and he oversaw games including Lost Planet and Dead Rising -- titles that successfully targeted Western audiences. His statements, the translation of which were verified by Gamasutra, described a bureaucratic, bloated Capcom as an example of out-of-control budgets in the industry and why internal production is falling by the wayside -- games including Dead Rising 2, Street Fighter IV and Marvel vs. Capcom 3 are a few examples of recent and upcoming Capcom games developed outside of the company. Inafune said that at Capcom, there are 700 employees working on three or four titles. "...It's common for a project to cost 3 or 4 billion yen ($37.5-50 million)," he explained. Inafune said he made 2006's Xbox 360 title Dead Rising with less than 10 internal staff, and was able to create a global hit. Now, Inafune wants to find out whether people buy games like Resident Evil and Mega Man because of the series' relationship to him as head of R&D, or because the franchises have a life of their own. He's wants to find proof of the value of the Inafune "brand." "For Capcom, it doesn't matter whether a game has the Inafune brand or is made by some anonymous producer," he said. "That's ultimately why I made the decision to leave. It's sad to leave, proving that point. It was really sad."

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