Western Devs Making Waves in Japan

Posted by Tim Sheehy on Nov 29, 2011 in Videogames |

Skyrim character close-up

When it comes to Western games, Japan has always seemed a bit stand-offish. I never really understood why, but every time the question was posed, Japanese developers would often cite everything from cultural differences and attention to detail, to their love for story-driven narratives. For as long as I can remember, Japanese gamers would echo those sentiments, often avoiding foreign games like the plague. That was, until recently.

Over the past few years, developers have started to change their tune. Sales of Japanese developed titles have taken a bit of a hit, and more and more gamers are starting to look to Western developers for an escape from the norm. Case and point? Modern Warfare 3 is topping their charts, while the highly anticipated collaboration between Level-5 and Studio Ghibli, Ni no Kuni: The White Witch, only sold 40% of its stock, and less than half as many copies as the latest Call of Duty its first week. That’s not even the latest news, however.

Popular Japanese gaming magazine, Famitsu, recently reviewed Bethesda’s The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, awarding it their much coveted perfect score of 40 out of 40. Now, given the recent rash of perfect scores the magazine has given out since 2009, that might not sound quite as impressive as it once did. However, it’s important to note that Skyrim is, to my knowledge, the first western game to ever achieve it. The game will hit Japanese stores December 8th, but how well it’ll sell remains to be seen. Ironically, I seem to recall Bethesda’s Japanese marketing campaign for Fallout: New Vegas attempting to advertise the very aspects that set it apart from other traditional Japanese roleplaying titles. It might have worked.

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