Suda 51: ‘Middle audience’ crucial to Japan game biz

The Japanese games industry is suffering from a bit of a slump at the moment, but one man has the answer. Eccentric creator of weird games, Suda 51, believe that there is a “middle audience” between the so-called casual and so-called hardcore demographic, and it’ll be these people that shall prove crucial in reviving the market.

“Well, there are a lot of core gamers, and a lot of lighter users playing on platforms such as the DS — but there’s nothing in-between,” he claims. “I think it’s going to be very important for games to be created for that middle audience, and that will help bring the market back on-track.

“I was actually here early last year for the promotion of the first No More Heroes, and I realised that the UK, France and Germany are the mature markets, while Italy and Spain are still growing. There are still new gamers there and they want to know more — so there are good opportunities.

“In Japan there are still core gamers, but since Nintendo released the Wii and DS a lot of people who never played games before are now playing. Those people that are playing the different types of games are growing, which is a good thing for the Japanese market.”

I can’t help but find it amusing that the man who created Killer 7 is talking about appealing to wider audiences. That said, I don’t quite get what he’s saying here. You either play games or you don’t. I really don’t think trying to pigeonhole a third set of gamers, when the casual/hardcore divide is blinkered enough, will help matters in the long run. Can you really get a new demographic between the “core” and the “casual.”

What would that be? Someone who plays games a little bit but secretly hates them? Seems like more unnecessary audience splintering to me.

Jim Sterling