I found this interesting editorial discussing the battle between the American and Japanese video game industries for ‘domination’ in the video game business. An interesting sound byte from the article:

Since nobody in Japan knows how to save their flailing console market, the publishers are just going to look at what’s selling in America and copy it down to the smallest details to be repackaged over here.

The article goes on to provide some specific examples, so check it out if you are interested. As previously discussed here, the Japanese gaming industry is at a crossroads. While it was once on top of the world, leading the industry and making tons of money, it has since fallen on harder times, for whatever reason. As that quote above suggests, there are some who think that the Japanese companies are hard-pressed for options, and instead choose to mimic American styles in order to appeal to a gaming audience.

The success of SEGA‘s Bayonetta, a Japanese-created game, has been remarkable, and it could mark the beginning of the Japanese market’s return to the top. Time will tell. The statements made in this editorial do shed some interesting insight into the matter, however.

The author of the article briefly discusses Bioshock, the amazing and completely innovative shooter/adventure tale that came out in 2007 to immense critical acclaim. Its sequel is out today in the United States, but he says that

I’m in the camp that BioShock didn’t need a sequel. That game was a piece of art by itself. It stands up there as one of the most breathtaking experiences of any generation. Will the sequel capture the magic of its predecessor? Perhaps. Time will tell, but I personally doubt it. I hope I’m wrong, because BioShock’s legacy needn’t be diminished.

Personally, I haven’t played Bioshock 2 yet, but I am very anxious to get my hands on it and see if it lives up to the perfection that was the original game. Reviews so far are saying that the game doesn’t disappoint, which is promising. The original was so innovative that I had thought a sequel wasn’t necessary, but I suppose I’ll see how it stacks up once I play it. The author of the article mentions Bioshock by calling the sequel “exploitative”, and while that’s probably true to a degree, the game has new bells and whistles in mind to attract gamers (such as new multiplayer mode).

Saying things such as ‘everyone always wants the same thing’ as an explanation for lack of originality and variety in gaming is intriguing, as it DOES seem that some games pump out sequel after sequel, mostly intending to capture the attention of fans of the previous game, a tactic that obviously works. I’m not so sure that’s entirely a bad thing, though, as from a fan perspective I often want MORE of my favorite games, and sequels allow for just that.

Still, this article is rather intriguing, as the author brings up some issues that deserve discussion.

One of the last thoughts expressed in the article is even more provocative:

There’s no doubt that the West is the leader in the gaming industry and that Japan is the distant second fiddle. I just wish they would pull their heads out of the sand and take some chances that don’t involve cooking sims and angsty, androgynous anti-heroes.

The debate is on.

What do you think? Is this editorial on the right track? What are your thoughts on the video game industry and Japan’s current struggles? Discuss.

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