Yamaoka admits Japanese industry is “struggling”
Akira Yamaoka, composer of music for the Silent Hill series and sound director on XBLA shooter Sine Mora, admits that the Japanese videogame industry is "struggling" to create games that appeal to gamers worldwide.
Released last week, Sine Mora is a collaboration between Japanese studio Grasshopper Manufacture and Hungarian developer Digital Reality. Though the game was first devised in Budapest, it's a ringing endorsement of the potential of cross-border collaboration, with the European studio ensuring wider appeal for that most niche of genres, the scrolling shoot-em-up. In an interview, Yamaoka admits Japanese studios are struggling to make their games appeal to markets and cultures they don't understand.
"I think it's true that the Japanese industry is struggling a bit," he says. "Maybe we reached the maximum that we could achieve, and we have to admit it. I think that those Japanese people who do not understand cultures overseas will not be able to create entertainment for the global market.
"Creating videogames is a service. If you can't, or don't want, to see and meet users around the world, I don't think it's possible to provide the entertainment they want."
Theodore Reiker, creative director at Digital Reality, agrees, adding that a key factor in Japan's struggles is that its studios can rarely compete with the development and marketing budgets of their western peers.
"The Japanese videogame ruled the world for many years, but times are changing," he says. "The middle-class of game development is struggling everywhere.
"Japanese creators are still making fantastic and fresh games… but just like Europe lost cinema after the first few decades to Hollywood, so Japan has lost videogames to the blockbusters and social networks. It'll be interesting to see how they adapt."
The above are extracts from an interview with Yamaoka and Reiker, in which they discuss how the project came about, the games that inspired it, and why now is the right time for a bullet-hell shooter on consoles despite Cave's and Taito's moves to smartphones. The full interview will be published on Friday; our Sine Mora review, meanwhile, will be online tomorrow.