Xenoblade Chronicles X has just launched in the west to very positive reviews, and to mark this occasion Time has been speaking to creator Tetsuya Takahashi, the man behind the entire "Xeno" series of video games.
Takahashi revealed that he actually prefers Western games to those developed in his own country - in fact, he states that he has little interest in games made in Japan. He feels that many Japanese developers are limited because they tailor their titles almost exclusively to suit the tastes of Japanese players, and therefore miss out on a massive global audience:
Except for a subset of titles, Japanese RPGs are budgeted so they'll make a profit off sales within Japan alone. It seems to me that building the entire world of the game itself (making it open-world) is considered one must-have element for Western RPGs nowadays, but that just can't be done in the current Japan scene. But lately, I've started to wonder about whether this is really just because of budgetary issues. I think this is probably due to differences in cultural tastes, but in the current situation, it's difficult to take content created in Japan and have it accepted in the West. As a result, you can only create things scaled to make money within Japan alone, and it becomes this negative spiral.
Japanese tastes are unique compared to those in the West, so if you focus solely on gamers within Japan, you'll always find yourself running into this problem. (I think this is easy to see when you notice that FPS-style games sell only around 100,000 copies or so in Japan, as opposed to 10 million worldwide.) This may be a surprise to hear, but I don't have very much interest in "current" Japanese anime and games, and I don't play them, either. (I do get hands-on with them for future reference, though, and I still love older games that came out 30 or so years ago.) Most of the movies, TV dramas, novels, and games I pick up are made in the West. I don't do this deliberately; that just turned out to be the kind of thing I like. As a result, I've come to the realization that it's best to try and organically make the kind of things I like, or want.
Takahashi also touches upon the massive growth in mobile gaming in his homeland, a situation which has worried some developers, who see the console market shrinking at the same time. He claims not to be concerned, because the audience which plays games on smartphones isn't the same as the one which he personally makes his games for:
We're also seeing mobile games flourish in Japan while the console market declines, but the type of audience playing mobile games in Japan now has never bought my games, not since even before mobile existed. I consider the entire world to be my main field of battle, so I don't worry about that at all. I also think that other companies' RPGs, those with the potential to fight it out on the world market, aren't going to be threatened by the state of mobile within Japan. That's the kind of thought process that led to the completion of Xenoblade Chronicles X, and I hope that people will be willing to give it a try.
Finally, the Monolith Soft founder speaks about his next project, which he says will be different from Xenoblade Chronicles X:
I tend to get bored with things pretty easily, so I'd like to keep creating things with different approaches every time. Along those lines, I'd definitely like my next project to look and feel pretty different from this one. The 'Xeno' name, by the way, really just exists to make it clear that these are Tetsuya Takahashi productions.