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Daniel Hermann's blog

2:24 PM on 08.08.2011

East vs. West: All is Quiet on the Eastern Front.

The state of Japanese Gaming

The demise of Japanese gaming has been a hot topic in gaming recently. Square Enix, Capcom, Nintendo, Sony. These leaders of the gaming world have unarguably lost ground with the rise of western gaming and the First Person Shooter.

A token example, Square Enix "losing face" because they had no playable Japanese-developed games at E3 this year. Koji Teguchi,a senior executive officer at Square Enix explained on twitter,

"Because we merged with Eidos and had games like Tomb Raider, Deus and Hitman, as a company we were able to keep face."

In other words, the western games developed at Square Enix are pulling the company forward.

Even Nintendo, the former king of console and handheld gaming had to drop the price of their 3DS as a result of low sales and an unimpressive launch lineup. Satoru Iwata even wrote an apology letter to 3DS "Ambassadors" (the name given to early adopters) begging for forgiveness.

Sony's Playstation 3 also lagged in sales behind the Wii and Xbox 360 this generation.

Why has this happened? Because the Japanese bet on gimmicks and former successes while refusing to adapt for the times.

An anecdote to explain: The Chocoro cafe. St. Marcs Cafe, a Japanese cafe, was competing against Starbucks which was growing by leaps and bounds in Japan. The reason? Starbucks innovated constantly, with new flavours, well furnished locations, Frappuchinos, and the like, people always had new reason to go to Starbucks.

Did St. Marcs in turn innovate? Hardly, the highlight of the cafe was a speciality, the chocolate croissant. So the company renamed their cafes to Chocoro, i.e. Chocolate Croissant. The franchise wrongly believed their success could hinge on one gimmick, and as a result lost ground in the Japanese market next to Starbucks.

To return to Gaming, Sony's Playstation 3 depended on the success of the Playstation 2 to drive sales of its successor. Microsoft however turned the table with the 360's early release and superior online service, Xbox LIVE.

Artist Depiction of Sony

Nintendo relied on the "3D gimmick" and loyal Nintendo fans to drive adoption of the 3DS.The Wii also sold because of its motion control "gimmick" and Nintendo is no doubt betting on Wii U's"controller with a screen" for success. The very name 3DS and Wii U is part and parcel evidence of this.

As well as this, Ninendo has a policy of not looking at competion and as a result of this Nintendo has in many ways lagged behind competition especially when it comes to graphics, internet gaming, and their hardcore games.

So why has the West won? because the East has not innovated or accounted for changing times. the East has so far relied on the successes of the past (PS2, DS, Wii) to determine the future (3DS, PS3, Wii U). The West has gone forward while the East is standing still.

If the East were to instead of reling on previous hardware and gimmicks, focus on developing innovative software (read: games) as well as accommodate for modern times, the east could possibly rise again. Currently however, this weekend I could have got GameBoy tennis on my 3DS for 3$ or Fallout 3: Game of the year edition for 10$. On my 360 I can voice chat with my friends but I have to use a friend code on my 3DS and I can't talk let alone voice chat with them.

The East needs an Extreme Makeover.   read

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