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Japanese Survey Shows Tricky Market For Western Games 65

Posted by simoniker
from the rising-sun-falling-hopes dept.
Thanks to GameSpot for their article discussing the results of a survey of over 1,000 Japanese gamers, conducted at this year's Tokyo Game Show. Among the more telling trends was a definite lack of interest in Western-developed games: "The percentage of respondents currently own non-Japanese software? Just over 1 percent. And only 4 percent expressed interest in buying such software in the future." The survey also revealed the true dominance of the RPG in Japan, as "...39 percent of respondents identified it as their favorite genre. This is far ahead of every other genre: strategy gaming, the second most popular choice, tallied only 7 percent of the votes." Finally, although it may be that Tokyo Game Show attendees "tend to be hardcore gamers", thus skewing the results, "ownership of [Xbox] ranked lower than five consoles that aren't even in production", including the Dreamcast and Saturn.
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Japanese Survey Shows Tricky Market For Western Games

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  • I can't say that I am familiar with many titles from Japan that are not written for the US market. Is this common or am I unique?
  • ... "proof" of what people are saying often on Slashdot : Japanese don't like non-Japanese games. That's why the Xbox will never pick up over there. It's a shame really, cause the Xbox could need a few RPGs like Disgaea. I love KOTOR and I'm looking forward to Sudeki, but I'd really like to see a game like Disgaea or Shadowhearts on the Xbox.
    • while kotor is a great game.. it's not exactly what japanese usually mean when they say rpg. kotor is great though... back to playing. what's great about having fucked up daily cycle is that you can look at the watch and see it's over 5am and still have time to play! .
      • it's not exactly what japanese usually mean when they say rpg
        Yeah, I'm aware of that. Sudeki, even though it sounds like a Japanese game, is in fact developed by a western company exclusively for the Xbox and is an american RPG, just like KOTOR is. My point was that these two american RPGs are great, but the system needs japanese RPGs. But Japanese developers don't see the need to make RPGs for the Xbox because no Japanese will buy them. So were only going to get american-styled RPGs for the Xbox.

        Maybe if
    • How do sales of PC games do in Japan?

      Also, MS just hired a former head of (I believe) Squaresoft to head up their Japanese XBox development branch. So we may start seeing genuine Japanese games being developed inhouse for the XBox...

      • Horribly. There is a very very noticable stigma applied to PC games: they are for dorks. Perhaps its because the machine is more expensive, perhaps its because you have to know how to install software and maintain software to play, perhaps...I'm not really sure, but I can say that, unlike America, here in Japan, PC games are for dorks, consoles are for normal people. (By the way, I'm not agreeing in the least. Just stating the national view) On the upside, things are changing, and the image of PC gamer
  • Finally, although it may be that Tokyo Game Show attendees "tend to be hardcore gamers", thus skewing the results, "ownership of [Xbox] ranked lower than five consoles that aren't even in production", including the Dreamcast and Saturn.

    I always thought hardcore gamers were the ones who went out and bought every new console with as many games as they could get their hands on. Not someone who is a generation or more behind on hardware/games.
    • Good games never become obsolete.
      • Of course they do: Once you've played them and then become busy playing new games. Super Mario Brothers, for example, is quite obsolete for people who've played the game through dozens [upon dozens] of times. I know that I can't get anything significant (besides nostalgia) out of Yar's Revenge or Civilization because I've enjoyed them and moved on.

        Even if people HAVEN'T played "ancient" games, most of them would probably hold little interest for young gamers. They would probably wonder what was so comp

        • I know that I can't get anything significant (besides nostalgia) out of Yar's Revenge or Civilization because I've enjoyed them and moved on.

          If that's the case, then I really feel sorry for you. I still enjoy playing all my video games, even my old Atari ones that I've played to death. Even though I know how to beat Adventure thoroughly, it's still fun for me to play, and getting as high a score possible in Berzerk and Pitfall is still just as fun for me now as it was when I was a kid. I also still enjoy
    • I don't think the survey asks them the only console that they play. Just because they kept their older consoles and still play it doesn't make them a generation behind.

    • And this is exactly the point. It's the equivalent of hard-core gamers in the U.S. not owning N-Gages or not planning on buying Phantoms when they come out. Japanese consider X-Box to not even be in the running.
  • AFAIK the japanese mainly understand japanese and nothing much else - a few engrish words don't cut it for many western style games.

    That said the Koreans seem to do ok in CnC, etc. So it's not just the language barrier.

    IMHO the Japanese are really a big bunch of different people from much of the world culturally. Apparently in Japan it is not unusual for a person to wear face masks because he/she is sick. In places like Hong Kong and the rest of the world, people start wearing face masks because they thin
    • by TwistedGreen (80055) <twistedgreen&gmail,com> on Saturday November 22, 2003 @12:14AM (#7534478)
      Just what the hell are you trying to say? You make no sense.

      "IMHO the Japanese are really a big bunch of different people from much of the world culturally."

      Your wording here is atrocious. I think you're trying to say that Japan is different from the rest of the world, but what exactly do you mean by the "rest of the world"? Try to realize that America is not "the rest of the world." Do you think that most Americans understand more than a few words of any language other than English?

      This article isn't about translating games into Japanese. It's about how Western-style games are NOT INTERESTING to the Japanese culture. Or is that what you're trying to say?
      • I understand very well that America is not the rest of the world. I'm not from the Americas.

        In my country there are 3 major cultures (all nonwestern), and a few others. The Japanese culture still seems to be significantly more different to me especially for everyday-life things.

        I most certainly wouldn't say "excuse me" to my neighbour when I sneeze in my own apartment, even if my neighbour can hear me. And a non-japanese neighbour will most certainly not say "it's okay I didn't hear you".

        Toilets in the "
        • I most certainly wouldn't say "excuse me" to my neighbour when I sneeze in my own apartment, even if my neighbour can hear me. And a non-japanese neighbour will most certainly not say "it's okay I didn't hear you".

          Good thing, neither would the Japanese.

          I can see to some extent where you're coming from, though I get the idea that you think the Japanese are a lot stranger than they really are (I know I had pretty high expectations of weirdness when I came to Tokyo, which I realized were unfounded the lo

          • Yah I know they aren't really that weird. Just pointing out some extremes. Once you peel away the culture most peoples are very much the same - similar needs, etc. But my friend really got bowed to etc etc. And the various other things... So the culture does seem quite different to me.

            BTW I got kissed on the cheek by a very nice young japanese lady some years back. And we only had known each other for a few days - and for work related reasons. I didn't mind of course, but was a bit too surprised and shy to
          • You asked: If Japanese don't buy American games because of the cultural differences, why do Americans buy so many Japanese games?

            I think because the Japanese write certain games with the American and European market in mind, and the Americans don't write games with the Japanese market in mind. In other words, the Japanese are currently just better at crossing cultural borders.

            Just because US companies are hugely successful in selling games, movies, music, etc. in many other cultures doesn't mean they a

      • AQre you suggesting that Japanese culture is identical to US culture? I find this hard to believe. Japanese games for the Japanese gamer sell terribly here, for the most part, because most Americans would rather actually go out and date rather than play a dating sim. Most Americans are more comfotable with excessive violence and blood in their games. Our social structure is much less restrictive. American society is not the same as japanese society, even if you think it is. And that is only comparing
    • AFAIK the japanese mainly understand japanese and nothing much else - a few engrish words don't cut it for many western style games.

      Uhmmm, no. English is taught in Japanese schools from a fairly young age. You're waaaay off-base on almost everything in your post.
      • English is taught in Japanese schools from a fairly young age.

        True. But French is taught in British schools from a fairly young age, and I'd still have a lot of trouble if I were dumped in rural France. Just because a language is taught doesn't mean the people who are taught it reach any great level of competence...
      • I've met a number of Japanese folk over the years. While English is taught in Japanese schools from a fairly young age, it sure appears that those I met weren't paying very much attention, or the teaching leaves much to be desired. From what I hear, the latter seems to be the case.

        But I have to admit, language is probably not the reason why the games aren't popular - the Koreans seem to be happy with many western games. And they're the best in many competitions.
        • As an expat living in Japan for 8 years, and a former English teacher, I can say: it's partly the teachers, but mostly the students. I've taught kids that rocked in English. They had the same teachers, the same textbooks, the same resources. The difference was, they really wanted it. They studied with the goal of long term memorization, not just enough to pass the midterm test. They watched English language TV. They voluntarily talked to native speaker English teachers.

          99% of Japanese will tell you
          • Well english is a weird language. So I don't blame em.

            The million ways of pronouncing "ough".
            One = pronounced W-Ah-n. WTF.
            etc etc.

            Any tips on learning Japanese (spoken form)? Enough to get around and not offend too many people.

            I don't think I can manage the written form :).
            • Well, really, most languages work out the same: get a good textbook, get some language tapes, and put your nose to the grindstone. Find some place, any place, where you can practice (a tutor, of course, is easiest). Learn some words/phrases, and then use them ASAP so that they stick (it's MUCH easier to remember a word/expression when you use it in real life). Make some flash cards, listen to the tapes, etc. It seems straightforward, but, especially at the start, it's the best way to go.

              Perhaps more u
            • by Senjutsu (614542) on Saturday November 22, 2003 @04:05PM (#7537651)
              Any tips on learning Japanese (spoken form)? Enough to get around and not offend too many people. I don't think I can manage the written form :).

              The Japanese language (spoken) hasn't been overly difficult for me to learn. Compared to english, it's much more regular, both in terms of pronounciation and the spectacular number of odd conjugations we have. I pity anyone who tries to learn english as a second language; our grammar is downright malevolent. I think a sticking point for many people may be the Subject-Object-Verb word ordering, but if you've ever programmed in Forth or used an HP calculator, it comes off as fairly intuitive. There's also a surprising (or not) number of english (and some dutch and german) loan words in Japanese.

              In terms of the written language, the kana (katakana and hiragana, both syllabaries) are quite simple, and can be mastered within a week. The Kanji (the chinese characters) are obviously much more difficult, as you have to memorize around 2,000 of them to be basically literate, but it bears remembering that some linguists believe that learning it is no more difficult than learning english spelling, which boils down to memorizing arbitrary letter sequences with, in many cases, no relation to their pronounciation or meaning. The Nakama textbook [amazon.com] and it's workbook [amazon.com]are the best intro to the language that I've come across.
  • The gaming barrier (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MMaestro (585010) on Friday November 21, 2003 @11:55PM (#7534404)
    Americans tend to prefer FPS/action based games. (See : Half-Life/CounterStrike, Doom, and Max Payne 1/2)
    Japanese players tend to like heavy storyline based games. (See : Entire FF series 4 and up, Dragon Quest/Warrior series, and Zenosaga)

    Americans generally "go it alone" when it comes to games with or without teamplay. (See : A random public server of CounterStrike and Metroid Prime)
    Japanese/Asian players tend to like heavy teamplay when applicable. (See : Lineage 1/2 and FFXI)

    Until both sides are able to create a game that can successfully balance the differences in gaming preferance, both Japanese and American games/systems will always find a lack of preferance in the other's country. I think Square (not Square-Enix) tried to do this with Final Fantasy The Spirits Within but screwed up in the process. Why? Love based main characters (American favorite) , an "evil" leader (that military guy, both Japanese and American) , and the overly wrapped storyline and explanation (Japanese style). Either way you look at it, there has been almost no game that satisfies both cultures' style of gameplay. I think Square got lucky with FF7 and thats why people have been bitching about the series doing badly since then.


  • Funny, I thought they said "tlicky". I must have misheard.
  • Most US titles are RTS, FPS or military/war-themed. Most US titles are PC based, ported to consoles later.

    I see a majority of PS2 games being based around kung-fu/hand-to-hand style fighting, 500 different controller combo moves, with characters having the ubiquitous anime faces (sorry but the huge puppy-dog eyes, feathered 80's hair and tiny button noses look absolutely silly to me). You see mostly console-based titles as their export product, not PC games.

    Maybe I'm way off, but there are two differe
  • by shoptroll (544006)
    Eh...

    We have things we like, they have things they like... People forget that RPGs weren't THE BIG thing 10 years ago.

    You want an example, take a look at Squaresoft and their recent rash of re-makes/re-releases. We finally got an official Final Fantasy II in Origins, coming here at least 12 years after it was initially release in Japan. At least Square is starting to bring some of the stuff we missed over here, with the recently announced Front Mission History collection in Japan, maybe we'll get a cha
    • People forget that RPGs weren't THE BIG thing 10 years ago.

      Adventure Games were the big thing 10 years ago. Sam & Max, King's Quest, Monkey Island.

      God I miss that genre.
  • Some things are not crystal clear:

    - By "non-Japanese game" do they mean "game from overseas", or "game which language is not Japanese"? The term applies for both but it makes a difference. Some European countries are very heavy on localization and consumers won't buy English titles, but would happily buy the same game translated.
    - There's another question in the survey: "which console would you like to buy next" and the X-Box ranks second, after the Gamecube. Maybe they think the X-Box has potential but ha

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