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gdc 2014

Inafune: Indie Development Could Re-Energize Japanese Market

by Matt Bertz on Mar 20, 2014 at 07:00 AM

Given a chance to backtrack on his comments about the Japanese game development scene, Mega Man co-creator Keiji Inafune stood firm, saying Japanese games are still not doing well and that the energy level necessary to compete with the Western developers hasn't risen enough yet. "Overall we still need to make a huge amount of effort to get back to where we used to be," he said during a GDC Panel titled "Meanwhile, In Japan" hosted by USgamer senior editor Jeremy Parish.

However, his opinion isn't all negative. He said that working independently on Mighty No. 9 reminds him of working in the good old days at Capcom. "We are truly just having fun making games this way, and we hope our path we're on in Japan will change the way for Japanese development," he said.

Now that Inafune and Comcept successfully funded their spiritual successor to Mega Man via Kickstarter, he believes more Japanese developers will consider taking this approach to getting independent projects off the ground. One of the reasons Japanese developers hadn't done so in the past is because they didn't even know crowd funding existed.

"When we started the campaign and even after it ended, from within the Japanese industry I received a lot of comments, but i'd say only half of them had even heard of Kickstarter," he said. "If the games industry in Japan doesn't know, that means the consumers don't know it exists. That's where we were at that time."

Once more Japanese developers make the move to independent development, Inafune thinks his compatriots will have more opportunities for success. 

"We are a small country with limited resources and limited people," he said. "In older generations, Japanese made things work by being creative, not by being resource-rich. I feel like that situation is similar to where we indies are today in Japan. We may work better with restrictions and limitations because, when that situation is in front of us, we are very creative. I feel like the indie situation today will push our nation to be much more creative direction. Perhaps we will find the next Japanese video game creator hero in this era? I feel that there is a small light that will grow into something bigger in the future. I hope we can push that forward."