At the same Tokyo Game Show event that discussed the post-recession game biz
, execs from Capcom, Konami, Namco, Square and Sony addressed Japanese companies' attempts to expand into the Western market.
The issue is particularly notable at this year's TGS because the Japanese market appears to be increasingly favoring handheld DS, PSP and cellphone games in the recession. As a result, high-budget titles for consoles such as PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 often need to target a worldwide market to recoup their investment.
Namco Bandai president Shin Unozawa says the declining Japanese population means that worldwide studios are necessary. The company has internal U.S. development and is trying to globalize, but has postponed two of the first titles resulting from its endeavors to next year.
Unozawa particularly noted that it's important to take the classic Japanese-originating characters -- like Pac-Man
-- and make them work with the Western market, suggesting: "It's useless to make a Hollywood film in Japan."
Sony's Shu Yoshida has been working at Sony in the West for the last 8 years, and now runs all of Worldwide Studios, including Japan. He says some good-selling games in the West "only sell about 20,000 units in Japan", and things are changing even more.
He believes that the strength of the Japanese creators is in "ideas that are fun to play with", and just because things are selling well in the West, the Japanese market shouldn't immediately try to copy that.
Square Enix president Yoichi Wada suggests that "the point here is that there is no one single global market." Rather, it's a collection of different countries' markets, so both the creator and the seller must be able to accommodate very specific demands.
Konami's CEO Kazumi Kitaue said that "in technical capabilities", the Western publishers tend to be more efficient right now. But 'toy'- based gaming is somewhere "where Japan is in a position to lead the world" - in titles where creativity and a more playful aspect are encouraged.
He does believe that genres such as action and sports are universally understandable, even across language barriers. If Japanese creators can add a 'playful' aspect to these genres and make them universal, then it may be better than simply copying successful Western games.
Capcom's president Haruhiro Tsujimoto said that the Japanese game industry has potential in taking its expertise in original console and even arcade games and applying those to the global markets.
Namco's Unozawa also compared the arcade game scene to some of the new digital download markets, noting that arcade games are often low-cost for short play times, much like iPhone and other games.