These past few years have been difficult for those of us with a taste for Japanese console games. With the Western industry in transition drifting towards AAA blockbusters, and Japan towards mobile games, interest in creating these niche titles for consoles has dwindled, particularly JRPGs. The last 4 years have arguably been the bleakest period in the genre’s history.
With the genre in such dire straits seeing Yosuke Matsuda’s somewhat surprising comments has offered me a glimmer of hope. In an interview with Nikkei Trendy, Mr Matsuda said ‘Due to having split (the development mind set) according to regions around the world, we weren’t able to see this clearly up until now, but fans of JRPGs are really spread around the world”.
This single quote gives me and thousands of JRPG fans across the world a glimmer of hope. Despite the utter stupidity in stating the obvious, this single sentence gives us the hope that maybe, just maybe, Square have finally heard what we’ve been shouting for the last 5 years. The sheer ignorance the company has shown in the last half decade, managing their global fan base, is indicative of just how behind the times the corporate Japanese video game industry is.
These Japanese companies appear to be living in their own bubble, and seem to very rarely venture out to discover the truth. They appear to take pre-conceptions of Western audiences and use them as an operational blueprint for success. With pretty much no proof to reinforce their ideals, we gamers have felt the full force of such a ‘mindset’. After all when the market leader and innovator makes such radical moves to exit a genre, the industry will typically take note and react accordingly.
It appears even those who create and distribute these products we love don’t understand why they are popular on a global scale. Now this may be acceptable for those with little power and interest in such trivialities, but the CEO of a company with massive global operations?! That is unacceptable, particular when you have had fans shouting at you from all corners of the earth for the best part of half a decade. We are still waiting on Type -0 Square Enix, if you’d so kindly oblige us with at least a digital Vita release.
Unfortunately this is not an individual case, Square Enix are not the anomaly. This is a widespread cultural problem. We need look no further than Capcom and the Resident Evil 6 debacle to discover Square Enix are not alone in maintaining such a clueless attitude.
Mr Matsuda’s rather enlightening comments are indicative of a larger problem. It’s clear that the view looking out from Japan is incredibly skewed. These companies don’t understand their audience and worse still they don’t understand their own products. For an executive with ultimate corporate power, that is extremely concerning, what’s to say if Square Enix can be guilty of such ignorance that the rest won’t follow suit. How badly have Square Enix’s misconceptions afflicted the industry? Since 2010 they have left a significant gap and it appears only Namco Bandai have even attempted to fill it, and even that was only with the relative powerhouse that is the ‘Tales of’ series to mitigate the risk.
Over the last 5 years the industry has become increasingly desolate, streamlined and uninteresting, and based on these comments I’m inclined to assign some of the blame to Square Enix, but most must go to the corporate Japanese video game industries’ cultural misgivings, just how such unjustified misconceptions can be peddled as fact in a multi-billion dollar industry is anyone’s best guess.
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