Japanese developers need more rewards for creativity, Keiji Inafune says

Keiji Inafune believes Japanese publishers don't give developers the opportunity to show their own strengths, and the industry is suffering for it. The former head of Capcom's R&D department spoke with Gamasutra about why he thinks Japan has relatively few independent developers and what his company Comcept is doing to empower creators.

Inafune, who left his position at Capcom in 2010, has spoken frequently on the state of Japanese games. He said many of the problems in the industry can be traced back to overbearing publishers who expect developers to simply follow instructions without deviating into original thought.

"With outfits in the US and Europe, it's more of a case of the developer really trying to make their own successes and reap the rewards — that's why you see inspired people entering developers instead of publishers, and that's why it's easier for developers to build up people pretty quickly," Inafune said. "Meanwhile, in Japan, the idea's often that you enter a developer because you couldn't join a publisher, so it's harder for them to attract people."

He said Japanese games will only become more competitive in the global market when their developers feel more energy, and to do that they must be better rewarded for taking the initiative and creating high-quality projects.

"There are a lot of very talented creators in Japan, but often they aren't in a position to use that talent, or the developer they're working for hasn't noticed that talent," he said. "So I think there needs to be a system that allows them to be more creative in their work; that would help them a lot."

Inafune's Comcept creates ideas for games, then recruits external developers from Japan and abroad to translate that concept into an end product. Its first collaboration, Soul Sacrifice for PlayStation Vita, is in development by Marvelous AQL for release in Japan this winter and at an undisclosed time in North America and Europe.


  • kevinw729 - September 19, 2012 2:59 a.m.

    We have to remember that it is only a few years since Japanese publishers forbade the adding of developers names on arcade and consumer game content. Capcom has had a track record regarding their handling of development talent (the infamous Strider situation comes to mind). But this is the highest profile defiance of the 'gods' that run the Japanese consumer game scene. There will be repercussions!
  • larkan - September 19, 2012 12:02 a.m.

    More rewards? How about you keep your job and you get paid if your game doesn't flop? Creativity only goes so far, you COULD make a bunch of games like SUDA51 with tons of creativity that absolutely blow in every other department.
  • Letter11 - September 18, 2012 5:40 p.m.

    I wonder, do the Japanese have an emerging Indie development community right now? It seems like the freshest ideas come from the Indie scene.
  • ninjaemperor - September 18, 2012 5:35 p.m.

    They should listen to him, he's made some pretty great statements towards the state of Japanese development since he left Capcom.
  • ParagonT - September 18, 2012 4:16 p.m.

    He's got spunk.

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