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Video Games - Lost in Translation?

simoniker posted more than 10 years ago | from the different-strokes dept.

XBox (Games) 509

MikeDawg writes "No, it's not a case of 'All Your Base Are Belong To Us'. MSNBC is running an article about the relative popularity of some game hardware and software in the West vs. the East. This article covers the phenomenon of games vs. culture and why video games that do well in the U.S. generally don't do well in Japan, and vice-versa." The piece notes of the Japanese market: "American-made consoles such as 3DO (released in Japan in 1994) and most recently the Microsoft Xbox (released in two years ago) never seem to attract consumers in large numbers. Games such as 'Enter the Matrix' from Atari, and 'The Lord of the Rings' by Electronic Arts, both released [in Japan] last year, often vanish... without leaving a trace."

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509 comments

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FP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9004727)

FP! omg my first FP evar! HAX!

Re:FP (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9004734)

Congratulations. Welcome to the club [anti-slash.org]

You are surely a worthy soldier of Allah.

I agree (5, Funny)

tgv (254536) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004731)

Lost in Translation would be an excellent title for a new video game. You can only win if you don't get the girl at the end.

You are in a maze of straight streets with bright neon signs, all alike.
> north
You are in a maze of straight streets with bright neon signs, all alike.
> north
You are in a maze of straight streets with bright neon signs, all alike.
> north
You are lost in translation.

Re:I agree (5, Funny)

xe1fer (264424) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004783)

You were eaten by a grue.

I disagree (0)

CaptainCheese (724779) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004784)

that was entirely in english! I understood every word, fool! Your post should be: "Watashi wa baka desu" or somesuch!

Re:I disagree (1)

Cais (682659) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004850)

Don't forget the obligatory "Kuso o tabetai desu!".

Re:I agree (5, Funny)

mattjb0010 (724744) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004867)

You can only win if you don't get the girl at the end.

Nice to see someone targeting a game at /. readers!

Re:I agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9004925)

You can only win if you don't get the girl at the end.

What game are you playing? I'm playing games in which there are no icky girls. Silver Chaos [midoshiro.com] is a good one.

Re:I agree (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9004929)

You are in a narrow street of cobblestone
'neath the halo of a street lamp
>w
Your eyes are stabbed by the flash of a neon light that split the night and touched the sound of silence.
>look
In the naked light you see ten thousand people, maybe more. People talking without speaking, people hearing without listening.

XBox not selling in Japan (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9004736)

not because it's unpopular, but because no one can get the zoning permits!

Re:XBox not selling in Japan (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9004826)

You are so fucking lame.

Re:XBox not selling in Japan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9004934)

OMG XBOX IS HUGE

Obviously (5, Insightful)

Flingles (698457) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004738)

Games such as 'Enter the Matrix' ... often vanish... without leaving a trace."

I wonder why :/

Re:Obviously (4, Interesting)

Killjoy_NL (719667) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004770)

Personally, I loved the first 3-4 levels of the game, going into bullet time mode and kicking the living bejezus out of the people, but I also see that they could have done a LOT better.
The only thing the game REALLY had going for it was the story, but as a wise man once said, a game can't be good unless it has good gameplay.

Re:Obviously (3, Informative)

Hast (24833) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004949)

I recommend that you play Max Payne and/or Prince of Persia instead. Both have a similar "time dilation" mode and both are vastly more playable than EtM.

The idea with EtM was pretty good, but it was extremely poorly made. The models looked like Max Payne 1 era, and that game is pretty old. The animations were so bad it was funny. Watch a guy "climb" a fence and you'll see what I mean.

If they had developed it for a few more months it could have been a good game though.

Re:Obviously (1)

Bobdoer (727516) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004860)

My best guess would be that the Japanese don't buy into the whole "good movie == good game" idea. If I recall correctly, they prefer the "good anime == good game" concept.

Re:Obviously (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9004877)

Crappy games with american movie cross licensing. Who would be suprised when they flop somewhere that the movies aren't so popular?

I used to LOVE to play (5, Insightful)

ErichTheWebGuy (745925) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004741)

... The Legend of Zelda. As I recall, that game was made in Japan, by a Japanese developer, even based on many elements from his real life.

Also, as I recall, the game was wildly popular in both regions. Granted, it was a Japanese game ported to the US market. But, aren't most of the best games in the US? My experience with "enter the matrix" was that it sucks!

IMHO, this is another case of results being skewed to some agenda.

Re:I used to LOVE to play (5, Funny)

IntelliTubbie (29947) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004749)

... The Legend of Zelda. As I recall, that game was made in Japan, by a Japanese developer, even based on many elements from his real life.

Wow, that guy must have done a LOT of acid.

Cheers,
IT

Re:I used to LOVE to play (5, Interesting)

Shwilmo (750573) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004793)

... The Legend of Zelda. As I recall, that game was made in Japan, by a Japanese developer, even based on many elements from his real life. Also, as I recall, the game was wildly popular in both regions. Granted, it was a Japanese game ported to the US market. But, aren't most of the best games in the US?

Yeah, but what about the games that have made a huge impact on the US game market but haven't left a trace in Japan? What about Doom? Half-life? Those two games are easily two of the top 5 games of all time, yet they barely sold at all in Japan.

And also, what about sandbox-type games? They talk about the "relative" success of GTA3 in Japan, but when you compare the sales, there is a HUGE gulf in overall sales between Europe / America and Japan. Furthermore, other "sandbox"-type games have broken the bank here in the US but sold comparatively poorly in Japan. Games like the Sims and the Civilization series are pretty much only hot sellers in the west.

Furthermore, am I the only one who notices the gulf getting wider? I mean, modern western games just appeal to me significantly more than the overly-anime inspired games from Japan. I haven't enjoyed a FF since the SNES, I don't like Resident Evil or the Onimusha series, and I think Nintendo games just aren't appealing anymore. Instead, games like GTA3, Halo, and Madden are the bread and butter of most college-aged males video game experiences here in the west. I think it's an important distinction to make.

Re:I used to LOVE to play (3, Insightful)

ErichTheWebGuy (745925) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004825)

What about Doom? Half-life? Those two games are easily two of the top 5 games of all time

Agreed. In the US. The main difference, I think, is the huge culture difference. Look at the Samurai, vs. the American soldier. For example, Americas Army Operations vs. the later versions of the Final Fantasy series. One appeals to one cultire, while the other appeals to the other.

games like GTA3, Halo, and Madden are the bread and butter of most college-aged males video game experiences here in the west. I think it's an important distinction to make.

I rest my case. :-)

Re:I used to LOVE to play (2, Interesting)

Jameth (664111) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004882)

Furthermore, am I the only one who notices the gulf getting wider? I mean, modern western games just appeal to me significantly more than the overly-anime inspired games from Japan. I haven't enjoyed a FF since the SNES, I don't like Resident Evil or the Onimusha series, and I think Nintendo games just aren't appealing anymore. Instead, games like GTA3, Halo, and Madden are the bread and butter of most college-aged males video game experiences here in the west. I think it's an important distinction to make.
Your tastes may have changed, but the styles have not. The most recent final fantasy games are much less anime-styled than the older ones, and they still have much the same feel of the older ones.

Also, that GTA3, Halo, and Madden are the bread and butter of most college-aged males doesn't matter for shit. As far as I've seen while at college, beer and pizza are also the bread and water of most college-aged males. So, GTA3, Halo, and Madden are on par with cheap food and inebriated idiocy.

Re:I used to LOVE to play (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9004798)

wow, you found one game out of thousands which goes against this trend... you are very smart and observant.

i would give you a +1 super smart person if i had mod points.

i bet you are so smart that if i gave you a set of 100 unique numbers, you could find one number that was below the average.

Re:I used to LOVE to play (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9004804)

But, aren't most of the best games in the US?

Barely any console games are conjured up by USians. Have you ever checked out the credits to any games? Every game for Nintendo out there is almost exclusively Japanese names in the credits. Same for the other consoles. You're a loser.

Re:I used to LOVE to play (2, Informative)

ErichTheWebGuy (745925) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004842)

Ever look at the credits for most X-Box games? Yeah, names like Chris Jones and Alex Johnson are pretty Japanese my friend :-)

Re:I used to LOVE to play (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9004874)

some top selling games for 2003:
madden
gta
nfs
tony hawk
enter the matrix
medal of honor

all written by japanese people like JOHNoshi SMITHitaki, BOBomo WILSONimoto

Re:I used to LOVE to play (5, Insightful)

Woogiemonger (628172) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004854)

I used to LOVE to play The Legend of Zelda. As I recall, that game was made in Japan, by a Japanese developer, even based on many elements from his real life.

I wonder if a game popularity's diversity of region is based more on level of detail rather than what the game is based on. I read some of a book, "Understanding Comics" by Scott McCloud, and while I do think some of its contents is debatable, one thing I couldn't argue with was.. the more abstract a character, the easier it is to think of the abstraction as a representation of yourself, and thus relate to it. So with the older games such as Zelda, Metroid, Pac-Man, and even Space Invaders, I can see them having a region-independent fan base as opposed to more realistic games like John Madden Football or Lord of the Rings.

Re:I used to LOVE to play (1)

ErichTheWebGuy (745925) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004904)

I wonder if a game popularity's diversity of region is based more on level of detail rather than what the game is based on.

You have an excellent point. The more specific the game, (or more specifically the plot and entire social platform) the more likely it is that it will only be tied to the region for which that game was targeted.

Again, I think either the author of the MSNBC story has an axe to grind, or did not think through the implications of the statements that he made.

Re:I used to LOVE to play (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9004936)

It was created by Shigeru Miyamoto, the same person responsible for the various Mario games (i.e., Donkey Kong,) which have also been quite popular in the East and West.

Well no wonder... (5, Insightful)

BEI01 (567185) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004742)

Games such as 'Enter the Matrix' from Atari, and 'The Lord of the Rings' by Electronic Arts, both released [in Japan] last year, often vanish... without leaving a trace."


Yea, well, there is a reason. Both of those games were crap here in the U.S. as well.

Re:Well no wonder... (1)

Nobley (598336) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004782)

lord of the rings was a top 10 seller for the year in the US, not that is any indication as to the game being good.

Re:Well no wonder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9004918)

"enter the matrix" is a top 10 seller for 2003. Remember, they are talking about sales, not quality.

So what's new here? (1)

britneys 9th husband (741556) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004747)

This has been the case for years. The Japanese easily get addicted to RPGs, and have no interest in mindless FPSs. Americans love to shoot each other, and could never get through an RPG because they have the attention span of a hummingbird on crack.

Re:So what's new here? (1)

Goldfinger7400 (630228) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004786)

and could never get through an RPG because they have the attention span of a hummingbird on crack.

Or, it's because many people here would rather not throw away dozens of hours living the life of a pixelated little man who fights weird monsters in front of psychedelic backdrops. I do enjoy some of those games, but I think it's dangerous to get too caught up in such a timepit. Hey, at least with the shooters we can improve our reflexes and close combat tactics?

Re:So what's new here? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9004889)

Exactly... next time I am being mugged, I can easily hold down CTRL+SHIFT then strafe around him in circles and click the left-mouse button when the target on my HUD turns red.

I also would like to mention how often my finger reflexes have saved my life.

reverse is also true... (5, Insightful)

graveyardjohn (672128) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004751)

The reverse is also true, but to a lesser extent. Nintendo are not doing so well with the Gamecube (at least in the UK) and this is sometimes down to the perception that the more cartoon-like graphics visible on Nintendo hardware, like the recent Zelda game, are childish. In the west, violence, aggression, sport and speed sells bucketloads more.

Regimented psyches (5, Interesting)

Paul Townend (185536) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004753)

I think the most interesting part of the article was:

Japanese players do not like being thrown into an arena in which they are given very little instruction," said Hideo Kojima, creator of the popular "Metal Gear Solid" games.

"You can head in any direction, 360 degrees. They say, 'What am I supposed to do? Give me hints. Provide me service instead of just throwing me into this arena


I guess that in Japan, society is a lot more regimented and order-driven than in the west, and so they'll seek games that are similar..... If only they'd start buying more of my favourite genre (point'n'click adventure games!) - more might be released then! (although I guess instead of games like Syberia and Syberia II, we'd end up with stuff like "Puzzle puzzle cow fan 3400"...but at least it'd be a start!

Re:Regimented psyches (4, Interesting)

linzeal (197905) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004892)

My friend just got back from japan and could not believ how much they liked Microsoft Train Simulator" [amazon.com] and that ilk, I forget the name of the subway one though. Any hints?

Re:Regimented psyches (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9004937)

Microsoft Subway Simulator

Re:Regimented psyches (5, Funny)

alphaseven (540122) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004898)

I guess that in Japan, society is a lot more regimented and order-driven than in the west, and so they'll seek games that are similar.....

Grand Theft Auto sold surprisingly well in Japan, but I sort of wonder what they're doing in it. Maybe they're just driving around, obeying traffic signals, listening to the radio, watching the sunset...

Travellers blog, (3, Interesting)

Killjoy_NL (719667) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004756)

I've been to Thailand a few times and since I don't expect the taste in games to be that much different from Japan's I'll add my 2 cents here.

In Thailand, there are a LOT of internetcafes, almost every streetcorner (and a lot of stores between them) have them.
Last time I went (may '03) the game of the day was Ragnarok Online.
It was almost the only game I saw being played there .
The other game I saw being played there was C&C Generals.
The game my gf (yup she's thai, in case you're wondering) was/is playing is Rollercoaster Tycoon 2.
In all the time I've been there, the only FPS being played there (in a mall, some comps set up as a lan with broadband access) is Halflife Counterstrike, but I don't think that one really counts since it has had a long enough time to get there.

Back 2 UT2K4 I go, my FPS of choice at the moment.

Re:Travellers blog, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9004791)

c&c generals (& zero hour)....once you get 8 guys fairly into it, it's a never ending chess match.

complex real time war strategy. you can play for months and still have endless strategies/tactics to research, practice and play against each other.

Re:Travellers blog, (0)

Babbster (107076) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004855)

I've been to Thailand a few times and since I don't expect the taste in games to be that much different from Japan's I'll add my 2 cents here.

Ahhh, nothing like the smell of not-so-subtle racism.

Why wouldn't Thai and Japanese tastes in games be "that much different?" Is it because you think they look similar? You might want to spend more time in both countries before jumping to that kind of conclusion. Thailand and Japan are poles apart in terms of history and culture. The fact that both countries are in Asia and the people have similar appearances (to Western eyes, anyway) doesn't make them the same, any more than it would make Czech Republic and France the same.

Different markets, thats why (2, Funny)

Zarxrax (652423) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004759)

Americans want gritty, realistic stuff. Japanese want weird stuff, cute stuff, and 8-year-old girls getting raped by tentacles. I mean hell... would YOU want something like Enter the Matrix when you could be watching a little girl have simulated sex?

Re:Different markets, thats why (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9004780)

LOL!

I just posted a tentacle reference myself. I hope the mods are smart enough to mod us funny. :)

Re:Different markets, thats why (4, Informative)

Killjoy_NL (719667) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004802)

Yes, there are some anime that have tentacle rape in there, those anime are for the fetishists (sp?) that like that stuff.
It's sad that one of the first anime to come out of japan was Urutsokidoji - Legend of the Overfiend.
It was released in the UK and the Netherlands under the Manga label and after a lot of people saw that, they thought "WE MUST PROTECT THE CHILDREN FROM THIS CRAP".
I think this is a shame because there is so much GOOD anime out there in all genres.

Comedy: Urusei Yatsura, Ranma
Action: Noir, Cowboy Bebop
Drama: Saikano, Grave of the fireflies
Kiddy: Pokemon, Digimon, etc

Well, you get the idea. And it just now dawned on me that you were probably trolling.
Ah well, I got to write a nice piece anyway :)

Re:Different markets, thats why (1)

Cais (682659) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004862)

Grave of the Fireflies was just depressing =(.

Hell, no! and the US senate agrees... (2, Funny)

CaptainCheese (724779) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004811)

and that's why the "Tentacles in the Classroom 2004" bill was passed yesterday, revoking all previous kiddy-porn and bestiality laws on a federal level.

Re:Different markets, thats why (1)

Zarxrax (652423) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004812)

Who's trolling? I really do play those games with the 8-year-old girls!

Re:Different markets, thats why (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9004863)

"Who's trolling? I really do play those games with the 8-year-old girls!"

Um you haven't been modded down yet, dude. And what your doing isn't really trolling, its more debauchery or turpitude, and that isnt a mod option, yet ;).

Re:Different markets, thats why (1)

Zarxrax (652423) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004870)

Heh, I meant to reply to the dude a couple posts up. Havent gotten this whole slashdot thing figured out yet. Most of the interesting topics are allready filled with redundant posts by the time I get to them, so I never bother to say anything. /made like 5 posts since I've been reading this site like 2 years ago.

Re:Different markets, thats why (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9004893)

Ya you have to be fast :P.

Also try putting really contraversial comments as anonymous coward, then replying to them with a well thought out arguement to get major bonus points! muhahaha!

Re:Different markets, thats why (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9004813)

PLEASE whAT GAME!!! I CAn BUY ON EBAY? PLEASE TELL!

Culture differences. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9004814)

Yes, culture differences are large.

There many house wives are majorly into Shota-con (little boy / little boy naked sex cartoons).

Another reason for the people looking so young is that pubic hair is censored there.

Re:Culture differences. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9004907)

"Another reason for the people looking so young is that pubic hair is censored there."

Ya, pubic hair is censored at my house too. My husband shaves my cootch when im sleeping.

Re:Culture differences. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9004912)

pubic hair is censored there

Is that why the prostitutes never smile?

Re:Different markets, thats why (1)

djcreamy (729099) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004816)

I mean hell... would YOU want something like Enter the Matrix when you could be watching a little girl have simulated sex?

Ummm....yes I would prefer Enter the Matrix instead of watching a little girl have simulated sex. Wouldn't you? Pastor Zarxrax, I really think you need help. :)

Re:Different markets, thats why (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9004840)

"I would prefer Enter the Matrix instead of watching a little girl have simulated sex."

Well we know you aren't from Japan then :P.

P.S. you really should qualify your statement, and put in 'drawn' girl as there seems to be a difference between real and drawn sex.

Want to sell in Japan? The solution. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9004761)

"why video games that do well in the U.S. generally don't do well in Japan, and vice-versa"

If you want a game to sell in Japan you have to add some anime, and a few scenes when the girl is being raped by tenticles, then watch the $$$$$ come in.

Their brain has a bullshit filter (3, Interesting)

jabbadabbadoo (599681) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004762)

Having worked in the gaming industry, I know that Eastern consumers definitely have a different taste. The "Americanization" process is going extremely slow.

Stuff like wording, colors and game titles that are cool in the states and in Europe can be interpreted quite differently in Japan.

Violent games ARE popular in Japan, but mostly the violent games doesn't focus only on blood and spilled guts. They want focus on the art of fighting.

Is the culture to "blame"? Of course. So the gaming industry must adapt.

Re:Also breasts (5, Funny)

CyberDruid (201684) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004897)

Violent games ARE popular in Japan, but mostly the violent games doesn't focus only on blood and spilled guts. They want focus on the art of fighting.

And on breast bounce.

Re:Their brain has a bullshit filter (4, Insightful)

Jameth (664111) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004919)

Bullshit filter? What are you talking about. Japanese games are every bit as much bullshit as American games. You're telling me Tekken isn't bullshit? And that it focuses on the "art of fighting"? Say what? Japanese fighting games are completely unrealistic, with no relationship to the "art of fighting" whatsoever (sole exception being Bushido Blade).

If you want to focus on the differences in cultures, the article pointed out the much more major one: Americans like to have no boundaries and Japanese like to have clear direction. Japanese players get confused with a lack of defined goals.

As for another one of note, Japanese gamers tend to prefer a sense of community, while Americans tend to prefer a sense of personal success. That only really shows up much in MMORPGs, at least as far as I've seen. Look at Legacy of Blood: it is doing very well in Asian areas (particularly Korea, I think) but has done jack squat in the US. This is most likely because the play requires that you interoperate with other players on a massive scale. You need to have some sort of community. For similar reasons, Japanese MMORPG players are more likely to use something because it looks cool, while American players are more likely to use something because it is useful.

Re:Their brain has a bullshit filter (2, Interesting)

Shwilmo (750573) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004951)

For someone who apparently "worked" in the gaming industry, you sure do make a lot of sweeping generalizations that are pretty much inaccurate and stupid (such as implying that Americans like violent games because they focus on blood and guts, rather than gun-based combat). Furthermore, your title of "Their brain has a bullshit filter" pretty much makes your credibility fly out the window. If that was the case, how come they pick up hentai games and horse racing sims so readily?

Consumer Whoredom? (1)

zarthrag (650912) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004767)

MMORPGs experience the same phonemena. I suspect it's a simple difference in values and culture that produces the differences. Contrary to popular (american) thought: Original titles, as opposed to franchises, seem to rule overseas. Unlike my previous girlfriend, who liked Legolas more than me, they don't run out and buy every movie related item they see...sounds like I should be in Japan.

hmmm (0, Flamebait)

ambienceman (721763) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004768)

well 3DO didn't do well because it was just a shitty system. BTW, aren't Goldstar (LG) and Matsushita Asian companies? How were they American?

3DO (5, Insightful)

Moocowsia (589092) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004774)

Hmm.. Maybe the writer didnt notice that the 3DO did horrible in the US too... Which might be an indication of why it did bad in Japan. Crap is crap, if you send it to Japan its still crap.

Re:3DO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9004832)

Crap is crap, if you send it to Japan its still crap.

Not unless they are washed up baseball players.

Just maybe.. (5, Insightful)

exigentsky (771810) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004779)

Maybe Japanese people are less obsessed with blowing things up pointlessly and hence prefer better quality entertainment with a solid story and more things to do. They consider video gaming much more of an art, an investment, almost a career. Extremely talented video gamers are close to worshipped, especially in strategy games such as StarCraft. Maybe they also like and want to support their own video game industry.

In addition, "Enter the Matrix" and "The Lord of the Rings" were abysmal games developed quickly to take advantage of the sucess of the movies their based upon. Of course, these movies are exceptionally popular in the US, and it is sure that rabid fans will buy them because they feature their favourite charachters. However, in Japan these movies are not so popular and without playing on the success of the movies, they really do not appeal to many.

Even American game networks such as GameSpy, GameSpot and many others rated these games poorly. As usual, most games that are spin offs of movies suck, god I still get nightmares about the Survivor game. [http://pc.gamespy.com/pc/survivor-ultimate-editio n/5505p1.html]

Don't be suprised that games which base their success on culturally dependent factors such as how well a movie is received, rather than how good the gameplay is don't do well in other places than where the movie is popular.

Re:Just maybe.. (4, Funny)

Babbster (107076) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004864)

Maybe Japanese people are less obsessed with blowing things up pointlessly and hence prefer better quality entertainment with a solid story and more things to do.

I hear ya. I just can't get into US demon-screwing cartoons. They just don't have the same depth as the ones made in Japan.

Re:Just maybe.. (4, Interesting)

Jameth (664111) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004935)

I hear ya. I just can't get into US demon-screwing cartoons. They just don't have the same depth as the ones made in Japan.

It's really true. I can't remember the last time I watched an American porno with a plot to it, but Japanese porno is actually very good. If you doubt me, rent Kite. If you get the wrong one, it might not be a porno and you might think it's just a decent movie.

Re:Just maybe.. (5, Insightful)

Shwilmo (750573) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004909)

Maybe Japanese people are less obsessed with blowing things up pointlessly and hence prefer better quality entertainment with a solid story and more things to do.

I would be careful here. I think it's pretty clearly stated in the article, and been said many times in this thread, that "more things to do = bad" in Japanese gaming culture. They like games with single storylines and definite direction. Example: As a western gamer, my favorite RPGs of the past two years have been Morrowind and Knights of the Old Republic. Those games both offer a HUGE variety of things to do. Yet both are decidedly "non-Japanese" because they have very open, branching storylines. Games that are played like storybooks are much more popular in Japan than here.

And to counter your point about "blowing things up pointlessly," I could say the same thing about you training your characters up to level 99 so you could beat Ruby Weapon (or whatever), whereas at least when I'm playing Halo I'm sitting in a room with my friends enjoying healthy competition. It goes both ways, don't assume that one side is inherently "better" than the other.

Re:Just maybe.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9004926)

Maybe Japanese people are less obsessed with blowing things up pointlessly [...]
You're absolutely right! There has to be some point to blowing things up ... (like, the fleet is in the harbour and the fleet's owners/operators are standing in the way of your Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, or something)

Re:Just maybe.. (1)

Jameth (664111) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004947)

Maybe Japanese people are less obsessed with blowing things up pointlessly

So, let me get this straight. The random destruction of RPGs is not pointless, where you commonly have 'random encounters' which have no value whatsoever, but an FPS with every target you fight is carefully placed to add to the challenge is pointless? Perhaps you meant that Japanese people are averse to realistic violence?

On Xbox's lack of success in Japan (-1, Interesting)

Samir Gupta (623651) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004794)

Working in Japan for one of Xbox's main competitors, the prevailing sentiment seems to be that the reason behind XBOX's lackluster sales seem to be similar to those for American cars... they are big, bulky, typical of the American mindset that bigger is better. No one buys them (American cars nor Xboxen) in Japan because size is at a premium.

Whereas, with Nintendo, we have designed the GameCube from the ground up to reflect Japanese aesthetic sentiments of small size, symmetry, and fitting into the big picture without standing out, a fundamental tenet of Zen Buddhist philosophy -- not to mention the practical advantages when considering the size of the typical Japanese home.

Furthermore, we at Nintendo have always been sceptical of the "Everything and the kitchen sink" approach that Microsoft and Sony have taken with their consoles. We do but one thing -- gaming -- but do it well, unlike our other competitors who want to be a DVD player/CD player/PC/Internet terminal/TiVo. Our philosophy is to focus on one thing -- gaming, and make it our core competency, continuing to come out with seminal hits that people synonimize with the video game industry, Mario, Zelda, and so on.

We are continuing this trend with our future game consoles, and I would advise Microsoft to please do more serious cultural and marketing research if they wish to be a serious contender in the Japanese marketplace.

Re:On Xbox's lack of success in Japan (4, Funny)

simoniker (40) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004807)

I love your work, Samir - keep up the excellent job you're doing informing Slashdot readers of your work at Nintendo.

Re:On Xbox's lack of success in Japan (1)

lordsilence (682367) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004829)

I still like the ability to be able to run everything and the kitchen-sink on the Xbox..
Thank you, Microsoft for the free copy of Mechassault(TM) you gave the linux-techie at the XBOX LIVE release-party in Sweden :)

Re:On Xbox's lack of success in Japan (3, Insightful)

Shwilmo (750573) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004851)

Do you think that Nintendo can remain a viable competitor in the west with that ideology? In the same breath you blast Microsoft and Sony for not creating something "culturally sensitive" to Japanese needs, you go on and admit that you are not changing your design strategy which is falling behind in the west (particularly the states)? Or are you going to adapt more to the Western marketplace for those consumers who are in the west and introduce more "set-top-box" functionality into your systems for us western consumers who demand it?

I'm not trolling, I'm looking for a sincere answer here. I'm one of the many who grew up on Nintendo, but have long since left (since the SNES) because Nintendo seems to be unconscious of our gaming needs.

Re:On Xbox's lack of success in Japan (1)

skogs (628589) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004899)

I would have to agree with this sentiment. No offense to those that make far more money than I while working for Nintendo or anybody else, but I haven't bought a Nintendo for years. I played perfect dark and bond007 on the N64, but I played it on a friends unit while deployed overseas with the military.

Here, when I have a choice, I play games without the tuti-fruity anime characters - on playstation. I'm not going to purchase a Nintendo system for that one cool game that might be similar to bond or perfect dark. I don't want to race go-carts around with stupid sounding cartoon characters. I want NASCAR, or NFL football.

well thats odd... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9004795)

gee, thats funny

I like the naked pachinko game for MAME ..maybe thats just me

United States of Japan (5, Funny)

djcreamy (729099) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004800)

Maybe we in the United States are a bunch of closet serial-killers due to the violent, malicious video games we so actively enjoy....

...but look at their hentai. Have you ever seen bodily fluids used (and reused) that way? Do all girls wear those uniforms? Should cartoon figures really do *that*???

I'm torn between rejecting the Japanese altogether or forming the United States of Japan where the best of both worlds collide in an all-out FPS blood sport of bukkake and tentacle rape. Who's with me?

Re:United States of Japan (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9004830)

My thats taking two stereotypes to extremes. But for argument's sake lets accept them. I would much rather live in a society where sex is open and taken to excess (except rape of course) than one where guns are open and violence is taken to excess.

Obviously the US is not a country where everybody carries guns and shoots everybody else, nor is Japan a country with only perverts and gropers.

Re:United States of Japan (2, Insightful)

djcreamy (729099) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004901)

Why "except rape"? Rape is certainly an excess, as is gun violence. There is no such thing as a society "open" to sex yet immune to rampant sexual violence, pedophilia, and diseases.

I'm not saying violence is better, only that I wouldn't be so quick to choose one over the other. Sex sounds nice, hell who doesn't like sex, but some people have some wicked sexual vices.

Man western-eastern culture (2, Interesting)

axis_omega (771398) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004810)

It's true the market isn't the same. Cause the culture IS not the same period.

Sure the market will migrate a little, they are getting McDonalds and a little of Western culture. But do they really need to? I mean is the western culture gonna dictate the gaming scene for all?

I'm in Canada, so I'm influence mainly by the big country south of me.
But I don't like FPS either, I like more brainy, self-involving nature of RTS or RPG style games.
I'm hardly playing games anymore, the last thing I touched was solitary, but if I had time I'll surely get into Final Fantasy Series.

If they think games encourage violence, well its a good thing no?, and "Violent games are not so popular in Japan"
How can this be bad? Even if its a game ??? I understand that there's no connection between violence seen or in games and real life but people should realise, that if somethings are not liked somewhere, then maybe theres a good reason for it...

Re:Man western-eastern culture (0, Troll)

updog (608318) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004841)

people should realise, that if somethings are not liked somewhere, then maybe theres a good reason for it...

Yes, kinda like the Iraq invasion...

Re:Man western-eastern culture (1)

Moocowsia (589092) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004872)

RTS has gone to shit recently though :( The last RTS I played in a decent multiplayer match was Empire Earth. This genre needs a good kick in the pants! You hear this software studios! WE NEED SOME INNOVATION!

Re:Man western-eastern culture (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9004905)

I understand that there's no connection between violence seen or in games and real life..

in my opinion, there is a connection. the more you are shown anything, the more desensitized to it you become. what may have shocked you the first time you saw it no longer will.
take hello.jpg for example: the first time you saw it, you almost vomited on your keyboard. But since falling for (or deliberately following because you can't resist) countless shock-site links to goatse man and others since, these days it wouldn't even interupt your lunch.

Think about it (4, Insightful)

Tokerat (150341) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004818)


In Japan, stuff like animae and manga is wildly popular, it features intricate storylines, often times fantasy based. That's one thing the Japaneese get that I've noticed western audiences never seem to notice: You can do ANYTHING with games, movies, stories, or art...so why stick to simulating real life?

The western world, on the other hand, has Hollywood fever, we like car chases and action, we like sports events watched by millions, we like reality. Kind of depressing if you think about it, almost like we're so fed up with REAL reality we find it amusing to play in a pretend-yet-realistic world. Either that or I've also noticed that some Americans, especially the current generation of teens, seem to feel like they're "retarded" or immature for using their imagination. A shame, to say the least.

I won't speculate on what this means culture-wise anymore than I have done at the risk of trolling, but if game-makers want to sell well internationally, they need to realize they'll either need to rely on seperate product lines tailored to the specific culture of the region, or (and this I'd like to see) start to bridge a cultural gap and create a game with elements of both cultures' preferences, and see how well that sells.

I think Japan would enjoy some more excitement action-wise in their games, and the western world needs to learn to explore their imagination more and do some problem-solving/puzzle type stuff. A nice healthy blend.

3DO had quite a bit of Japanese support. (1)

Bustbang (689845) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004833)

But still failed, Panasonic (A large JAPANESE company),Goldstar &Sanyo all made 3DO systems. Good japanese rpgs like Lucienne's Quest & Guardian wars were available. Lots of hentai & TnA games were made.EA put out a awesome fifa soccer and a good virtual stadium baseball.even Need for speed had a japanese version. I say only Dragon warrior & Final fantasy can guarantee a game systems survival in japan.

Grand Theft Auto *III*... (1)

MavEtJu (241979) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004835)

The relative success of "Grand Theft Auto III" in Japan may be a sign of changing tastes, but violent games are still far less popular in Japan than in the United States.

Maybe it's just that they don't fall for it the third time. Makes me think about the US people :-)

My nephew got all three LotR games for his gameboy. I have finished the first one, but the second and third are the same (walk and shoot, absolutely[sp] no story in it) and I couldn't be bothered playing them.

I know this is redundant... (4, Insightful)

skogs (628589) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004843)

but those games sucked. 3DO, while an excellent console, was poorly marketed and suffered from poor business decisions as well as lack of game developers due to Nintendo's monopolizing practices. XBox...come on. The dang thing isn't really doing that well here either is it? Yeah it is surviving, but barely. We were all surprised when Sony was able to make a good console. Xbox is a nice unit to be sure, but it is basically a full fledged computer, not a console.

Music? (5, Informative)

aitsuda (633462) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004848)

Any article which starts "despite the success of american music and movies in Japan" has got to be questionable. Japanese music and idols dominate the charts; a few foreign groups / singers hit a niche market.

Writer Trying to Undermine Own Article? (1, Interesting)

Jameth (664111) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004859)

For examples of things that failed in Japan, they mentioned things like Mortal Kombat and the X-Box. However, they started out the article with mentions of The Lord of the Rings, Enter the Matrix, and the 3DO.

Why start an article with all of the crappy examples? Does the author want to convince people he is full of crap? I almost wrote the whole article off after that first paragraph.

Who writes this stuff? Ah. Steven Kent writes this stuff. Steven Kent, if you ever read this, that was some real bad placement of examples. However, the rest of the article was pretty good.

Easy answer is... (0, Flamebait)

andih8u (639841) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004875)

The Japanese market, despite rhetoric that it is not, is pretty much a closed market. An imported game console will not do well there. All of the xbox's which were initially sent there mysteriously began to scratch game DVDs, so the major Japanese retailers stopped selling them.

The other thing, if you look at the type of games each country puts out, you'll see that Japanese games are indeed very different. They have a lot of anime games, dating sims, etc...while most US gamemakers are stuck trying to see how many different ways they can rehash the FPS genre.

Ahem (0, Redundant)

AaronStJ (182845) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004876)

American-made consoles such as 3DO (released in Japan in 1994) ... never seem to attract consumers in large numbers
To be fair, I don't remember anyone liking the 3D0 anywhere, Japan or otherwise.

Heh. (1)

Icephreak1 (267199) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004887)

There's nothing like the grammatical mangling of white blood versus red. Truthfully.

- IP

It's not just games.... (4, Funny)

trouser (149900) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004888)

they also eat strange food and they've got a different word for everything. It's weird.

Dead Horse (5, Insightful)

wan-fu (746576) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004920)

Is it just me or has [slashdot.org] this [slashdot.org] horse [slashdot.org] been [slashdot.org] beaten [slashdot.org] enough [slashdot.org] already?

I'm pretty sure that by now, everyone knows that certain games and genres just don't translate well.

Magical Properties (1)

Undefined Parameter (726857) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004927)

Games such as 'Enter the Matrix' from Atari, and 'The Lord of the Rings' by Electronic Arts, both released [in Japan] last year, often vanish... without leaving a trace.

There's a fairly obvious reason why both games vanished without a trace; the former found a Hardline, and the latter put the One Ring on its finger.

[/bad humor]

~UP

cultural differences cited, movie at 11 +1 obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9004942)

why is this news to anyone? japan and america are VERY different cultures.
obviously some things have universal appeal, and some things have a cultural bias to one or the other.
+ 1 OBVIOUS

I wonder if... (4, Interesting)

shirai (42309) | more than 10 years ago | (#9004952)

Okay, I may be burning Karma here on a data point of "1" but I'm curious. I am Japanese and have played games all my life.

But I get incredibly sick and disoriented playing FPS. I've tried on several occasions thinking that my vertigo might improve but have finally given up knowing that I will just feel sick in the end.

I can play GTA, Tomb Raider and many a third person games and I love any racer but FPS just makes me sick. I wonder if Japanese (or Asians) are in any way pre-disposed to not orienting with FPS for some reason. Maybe it doesn't make all Japanese sick but maybe we just aren't built for it. Kind of like the fact that, generally speaking, we ain't built for milk (lactose intolerance in asians is high).
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