East Vs West

Do you really believe that eastern devs are better than western devs? if so what brought you to that conclusion? What is it that eastern dev do differently?

Y’know, yeah. I do think that. I mean, I think it because Japanese games tend to be good more consistently, and the majority of my favorite games (and the games I believe are the best games) are Japanese.

There’s some indicators of what they do differently in articles like these:

“I’m stereotyping, but in the West, scope, visuals, and features are the main attraction. For example, when we used to have Kojima Productions L.A.—we had an office in Los Angeles—we would get proposals for new games, pitches. It always started with: “This is the world you’re in. This is the experience I’m going to give you.” And gameplay was relegated to page 5 or 6 or 10. It was always about who you’re playing, who is the character, what’s going on, but not the “how,” how am I playing this?

In Japan, a pitch is a page, maybe two. The first page you write what the game is about and how you play it. And the second page, maybe you need an illustration. We don’t care about who, or what the story is, what the game world is, all of this doesn’t really matter.”


“Halo 2 and Half-Life 2 were developed in foreign countries. Perhaps foreign gamers simply like to play in realistic environments but I feel like there is something else to it. I think that American gamers have a stronger feeling that they themselves are the character in the game that Japanese gamers don’t feel as strongly.

Both of these games are FPS titles which have become very popular lately. I don’t think they necessarily rose to popularity because people simply like the genre or because the United States is a gun society, but rather because FPS is a genre that lends itself to really feeling like the character in the game.

An example that comes to mind is hearing a female gamer from overseas say that she thought it was awesome that she was able to become Dante when playing Devil May Cry. Overseas developers also spend a lot of time talking about how their games are immersive and feel realistic. Even for games that are in the same genre, if one uses cel-shading and the other doesn’t, the one that feels more realistic will probably be better received. This might also be a factor for why Final Fantasy games have taken on a more movie-like feel.

I think the feeling of actually being in the game world has become very important. It might be fitting to describe it as a Hollywood movie you can play. When looking at games in the west, that seems like a fitting description.”


“Sakurai: I think 3D games give American gamers a more immersive feeling. Japanese games are more of a fusion of 2D and 3D, or rather the visuals are 3D but paired with 2D game elements. I feel like there are a lot of those types of games. I don’t think that’s necessarily good or bad though. There is a gap between the, ‘I’m truly in the game world so this is natural,’ and the, ‘a game is a collection of systems,’ ways of thinking. This gap is changing the way we think about what makes a game feel like a game.”

I think that Japanese developers simply think more thoroughly about the game systems and how they can be used to challenge the player. They put a lot of polish into those where in the west we have more the AAA model, which focuses very heavily on superfluous details as well as unskippable cutscenes/tutorial sequences which drive me up a wall. Japan’s system-oriented approach turns out to be better for fostering the things I consider to be important in the final outcome of the product. Nintendo with the Mario games tend to mash together ludicrous ideas and characters to make certain mechanics work. It’s why Koopas are a turtle, so you can have that visual metaphor of the turtle going into the shell, then kicking the shell. It’s why you have Cappy and hat-wearing enemies in Mario Odyssey.

Although interestingly, despite being less game-oriented and more movie/simulation oriented, western gamers prefer higher difficulty levels than japanese gamers. I have two indicators of this:

“Western gamers like to challenge things. If a game is very difficult, they view beating it as a triumph over a sort of foe. Japanese gamers will quit if a game is too hard. They want an RPG where you never die. If you play an RPG correctly, you should not die. That is the point. Most RPGs are not concerned with raising your skill, they are concerned with raising your EXP – Experience. I think that Japanese companies are slowly losing the ability to make hard games that still appeal to Japanese users, and this is evidenced by the decline in sales of action games as Japanese users lose interest in challenging higher difficulty levels.”

And the feedback from the Nioh beta, Japan was not as happy with the difficulty and game balance as the West was. It’s kind of interesting that we’re split this way, but it would explain why the highest difficulty mode in western games is frequently challenging to the point of actually constricting depth instead of carefully drawing it out as tends to be the case in japanese games. As one person put it, “Built for no one, and playtested by no one.” I wish we stuck with the difficulties in Quake and Doom where more/different enemies are added instead.

nioh demo survey results.jpg

In the feedback for the Final Fantasy XV demo, we see a similar discrepancy between NA and Japan.


One point I have to admit to the west though is, the west has always been better at FPS and RTS games. Japan has never really tried to compete there, presumably because Japan is not very big on PC gaming, and both genres need a mouse to really be effective. Although, our glory days in both genres are long behind us.


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