Gamasutra's recent interview with Silent Hill sound director Akira Yamaoka raised many an eyebrow when Yamaoka described the state of Japanese game development as "in trouble" when comparing the Silent Hill 5 team to previous development teams. Perhaps the skepticism that has surrounded the American-developed horror game is unfounded, if we are to hear it from Yamaoka's point of view. Here is the complete quote:
"It's completely different working with an American team. There are of course advantages and disadvantages, but overall, I'm really impressed with the American staff and their technology. Their graphical and technical ability is amazing.
There's a huge gap, actually. They're very advanced. I'm Japanese, and I think this is not just with Silent Hill but with the whole of the industry -- I look at what American developers are doing and I think wow... Japan is in trouble."
There's a lot more where that came from, and most of it quite interesting. The full interview is here if you'd like to check it out. Yamaoka goes on to explain that Japanese developers are, on the average, older and not working at their full capacity (and also not making very good money.) American developers, on the other hand, are younger on average and are paid more.
It seems to make sense, yet most of my favorite games are still from Japan. This is likely because my idea of a great game is a giant raccoon playing a flute-organ hybrid while I compose to Mozart. At any rate, I think this is a topic best opened up to the floor for discussion. What do you like better: Japanese or American made games?
[Editor's note: This is actually further development of Yamaoka's earlier commentary, which we reported a few weeks back. Thanks Jim!]