"Why is Japan so behind the curve when it comes to game development?" asks this thread on 2ch. "Is it because we have less financial resources than foreign game companies? Because we don't rely on engines like they do? Because our planners (directors) aren't skilled programmers? Why?"
Some answers put forth by totally anonymous readers are below. The interesting thing is how many of them echo similar complaints from foreign gamers: an over-focus on the niche otaku demographic, unprofessional storytelling, etc. Personally, I tend to agree with the guys who say Japan needs to turn its so-called disadvantages into assets, but then again, I'm an optimistic kind of guy. Here we go:
-Japanese game developers are born and raised and live in Japan. With games, with art, with otaku culture, and more, we have a distinct background and history. In the future we're going to have to make that a sales point, or find a way to "mine" it. For example, we'll never beat Asia when it comes to the cost performance of rendering realistic-looking graphics. But when it comes to "stylized" (deforume) stuff we can't be beaten.
-Abroad, university grads, grad school grads, and even PhDs make games. The vast majority of Japanese game industry people have a university degree or some game-design school diploma at best. There's no way we can win.
-Japanese game scenarios are the pits. We may be behind in graphics but that isn't a problem so long as they're fun and interesting. The problem is that teams can't focus when they have to carry through a crappy scenario to its end. I don't know whether to describe them as "childish" or "otaku-oriented" or what but a lot of games are just too ludicrous for adults to appreciate.
-A lot of foreign game companies hire pro screenwriters. Here we leave this critical part of the process to directors and programmers and other amateurs.
-The PS1 era had a lot of cool and lighthearted games, but starting with the PS2 "otaku games" became the norm.
-I find it really strange that in an era when we know foreign gamers love first-person shooters that not a single domestic company has even tried to make one.
-The problem isn't a lack of education or technical skill. Believe me there are plenty of over-educated dudes in this industry. The problem is the total lack of ability of management. But you could say that about Japanese businesses across the board.
-We may be behind the curve in some respects, but answer me this: is there any country out there that can beat Japan when it comes to ero-games?