The New York Times ran an article saying that Japan has recently fallen behind the West in video game development. Something I had not considered myself until I just thought about it now.
Here are some highlights, but the whole thing is worth a read if you are a video game buff like myself.
A supersonic hedgehog and a plumber named Mario may have been unlikely heroes, but they once dominated video games. Only the Japanese could make innovative games like those, developers here used to boast. The West just didn’t get it.
Warp ahead 20 years, though, and much of Japan’s game industry is in a rut.
Sonic the Hedgehog and Mario still sell games. But more recent Japanese attempts to establish franchises, like White Knight Chronicles from Sony or Monster Hunter from Capcom, have not made a mark in the United States and Europe. Instead, the blockbuster hits now come from the West: Call of Duty and Guitar Hero from Activision Blizzard, for example, and Grand Theft Auto from Take-Two Interactive.
That is why a growing group of Japanese game developers are asking a once-unthinkable question: can they learn from the West to get back on top of the $60 billion global video game business?
From the mid-1980s through the 1990s, most big console-game franchises were born in Japan, including Nintendo’s Mario and Pokémon, Sonic the Hedgehog from Sega and Gran Turismo from Sony.
But the biggest new game franchises of the last decade have been from outside Japan, including Halo by Microsoft, and the hits from Activision Blizzard and Take-Two Interactive.
Last year, the world’s best-selling game by far was Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, which sold 11.86 million copies in the United States, Japan and Britain, according to NPD Group, the market research company.
Meanwhile, Japan’s domestic game market is shrinking, down by 20 percent since 2007, to 549 billion yen ($6.4 billion) in 2009, according to Enterbrain.
During that time, the market in the United States surged to a record $21.4 billion in 2008 before a recession-driven decline to $19.7 billion in 2009. But that was still a total increase of 10 percent over two years for the American market, according to NPD.
As Japanese development studios struggle with declining sales, analysts say they are falling behind their American rivals in sheer investment power. A budget for a blockbuster game in the United States can approach $50 million, a figure few Japanese developers can now match.
[...]The Game Show is also a lot of fun because of the costumes. If you want to see the best costumes from the show, follow this link. If you want to see pictures of sexy Japanese booth babes from the show, follow this link.
Here are some of my favorites. Those Japanese... they crack me up.