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Mikami: 'Japan needs to make games like Hollywood makes movies'

"Skyrim, Batman...games like that are more interesting to me right now"

Japanese game studios need to adopt a Hollywood level of willingness to spend money if they are to catch up to their peers in the West.

That's according to ex-Capcom producer Shinji Mikami, who revealed in PSM3's latest issue that his personal interests are leaning more towards Western developed titles.

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"Japan used to have the lead in the game industry, but now it's quite clearly America," he admitted. "To be told that Japanese games suck is a bit harsh," he added, responding to the criticisms made earlier this year by Fez developer Phil Fish.

"But personally, 80% of the games I play at the moment are not Japanese. Skyrim, Batman...games like that are more interesting to me right now. Japan needs to make more good games if it wants people to think otherwise."

Mikami agreed that Japan still produces high-quality games, alluding to Gravity Rush, Yakuza, Monster Hunter, Catherine and Super Mario 3D Land, but said these are few and far in between and skew too much in favour of Japanese tastes.

"Yes, there are amazing games, just not enough of them... So many are based on anime or fantasy - games that only appeal to Japanese people. Most gamers overseas aren't interested in anime," he said.

Mikami highlighted Okami, which melded Japanese mythology with a cel-shaded aesthetic and a Legend of Zelda gameplay framework, as an example of the taste discrepancy between Japanese and Western audiences.

"We made Okami at Clover. It was such a breathtaking game, yet it didn't sell. If that's the case, westerners obviously don't like that sort of game. Maybe they prefer something a little more straightforward."

He ended his sombre introspection by saying Japanese game developers need to be more like Hollywood movie studios and commit bigger budgets to create better experiences.

He also praised his former employer and Metal Gear maestro Hideo Kojima for their efforts in this department.

"Hollywood spends like 200 million dollars producing a movie, and you can make an incredible movie with that sort of money. But Japanese movie studios don't spend anything like that. The difference in [the] scale of the budgets [is] the same in games. Japan needs to make games like Hollywood makes movies. I think Capcom and Hideo Kojima's team are trying hard on that front."

"I hope Japanese developers can take this hobby that we originally propagated and once more offer something special to the world."

In his indictment of the Japanese game development scene earlier this year Keiji Inafune, another former Capcom staffer, said Japanese devs 'need to accept they've fallen behind' and start over.

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