"I think Japanese gaming is dead. When I say these things, I'm called a traitor. But I love Japan. I want to save it." Keiji Inafune still hovers
over the Japanese video game industry, defibrillator paddles at the ready. According to an interview with the New York Times
, the outspoken designer and Global Head of Production at Capcom saw little at this year's Tokyo Game Show to change his pessimistic outlook on Japan's creations.
"I look around T.G.S., and everyone's making awful games. Japan is at least five years behind," he said. "It's like we're still making games for the last generation of game consoles." And Inafune's ire isn't just aimed at competitors -- he cited Lost Planet 2
as a clear failure to connect with audiences everywhere. "Lost Planet 1 was designed for the Western market. But the guys who made Lost Planet 2 were misguided. They made it too Japanese. They made it like Monster Hunter."
The Monster Hunter franchise is far more popular in Japan than it is elsewhere, and modifying it could alienate its current customer base. Inafune is willing to compromise here: "We basically want to make games that will sell globally, but some games might sell only in Japan.That's O.K. – as long as we make a profit on it." Still, he warned that Capcom remained complacent in the ranks of worldwide competitors, who are already targeting bigger markets like China. "I'm always so shocked when I see global sales rankings," he said. "I think: Wow, Capcom's ranked so low. However you approach it, we're dead. Resident Evil sold 5 million copies. That's still no good."
Inafune is well aware of how harsh his comments appear among Japanese creators -- who are "always so ambiguous" -- and expects to be treated like a "lunatic." With that kind of drive, he'll either be in full control of Capcom and the Japanese industry within the next five years ... or be relegated to playing cards with Yu Suzuki in a basement somewhere.