Why Don't Japanese People Buy Western Games?

Answers from 2channel posters and blog commenters

Many people on both sides of the ocean have the impression that Japanese gamers are not into Western games. Recently on 2Channel, some commenters were discussing why that might be, but as you can imagine, not everyone agrees that Western games themselves are even the issue. Check out just part of the conversation below:


"It's because there are lots of Japanese people who get dizzy from TPS and FPS."



"It's absolutely due to not enough advertising. Also, thinking specifically of Fallout New Vegas's commercial, the Japanese version was weird. It didn't really convey what the game was about. If that was a translation of the North American commercial, then it could have done with some revision."


"It's probably because there are no moe characters or famous, mature voice actresses."


"I can't get into 3D Western games because I get dizzy, and with 2D Western games, lots of the time they end up lame because they have so much light gross-out and other kinds of indecency."


"If it's a Western game where you don't kill people, then I like it."


"All that sells anymore are sequels to famous games…"


"Japanese games are so shitty that I can't help but get Western games. On the Japanese side, the less horrible ones are probably pretty much from Nintendo, Capcom, From, and Sandlot." [Note: #19 (see below).]



"Hey, there are lots of good ones like Skyrim and Oblivion, Fallout, CoD, Battlefield, FIFA and 2K Sports games. In fact lately I'm playing nothing but Western games. "


"While I agree that Japanese games have lost their spirit and there are fewer titles I want, when I tried some Western games because of that, it hit me, 'Ah, this is still no good.' It's just that kind of vibe, this generation."


"Japanese only buy 'things with established value' because they can't judge for themselves. Then, once some the value has been decided, the decision is almost never overturned. That's why all these sequels are spreading like a disease."


"People watch Western movies, so I guess it must just be that they are bad at selling games. That or they need to change to fit Japanese tastes."


"Because it's Western or because it's Japanese is a nonsensical reason for not buying a game in the first place."


"Well yeah. But, if there are no Western games I want to play, then naturally I would play fewer Western games. Well, there is, for example, Ratchet and Clank and Crash Bandicoot, which Japan will take, so you can't say it as a rule."



"When they brought Crash over to Japan, though, they had that back and forth like 'This won't sell, so put eyebrows on him!' […] If you want to sell, you have to align it with the taste of the people who will buy it." [Note: You can read an accurate account of the changes they made to the character to align with Japanese tastes here.]


"Famous major Western games have begun to sell over 100,000 copies. That seems like a good trend…"


"There are people who say, about that CoD game that sold like 100,000 copies, "This Square Enix game is awwwweomse, so fun!" What the—" [Note: Square Enix published MW3 in Japan. You can see the actual first week sales numbers for the game in Japan here.]


"Like a few years back "Capcom's Gurasefu" right. Man, the people who abbreviate it as Gurasefu are so geeky; why don't they call it GTA?" [Note: Likewise, Capcom published GTAIV in Japan.]


"Well, you have to take into account that Famitsu articles never have words like Activision or Infinity Ward in them. It's obviously, therefore, the great accomplishments of Square Enix." [Note: This is not actually the case in Famitsu's coverage, but I guess this is this commenter's impression.]


 Modern Warfare 3

"Anyone can tell from appearances whether a game is one that Square Enix imported and licensed…and I've never met anybody who thought Square Enix was the developer. Most people can tell by looking whether a game is made in Japan or the West."


"Uhh, there are quite a few people in the world who don't read GeHa [Note: Short for "Game Industry, Hardware," the 2channel board.] etc. It's just cuz we're hanging out in this forum that we know."


Some comments from source Hachima Kikou's post of the thread:


"If I play Western games, it makes Japanese games seem like freeware."


"There's this pattern where beating Western games is too hard, so I end up hating them."


"It's just that it's better if I buy and play games I like."


"Isn't it that subtitles are bothersome and there are not enough commercials?"


"It's all the same to me."



"Why? Because the stuff you do in them is all the same and BORING. Oblivion, Fallout, Red Dead Redemption, Skyrim―they're all errand running games. They're all the same except for whether you use a gun or a sword. It's boring as hell. And there aren't any bosses! If you can be a robber, steal everyone's stuff, kill civilians—pretty much anything goes, you can beat a Western game."


"It's because From games outstrip any Western game."


"Not just limited to Western games, it seems like only series will sell. The standard series have multiplied so I guess they just don't have the interest in try something new."


"Would anyone say it's because the O and X are backwards?" [Note: The standard button functions are different in American vs. Japanese PlayStation games.]


"In comment 19 [Note: I marked it above.]  among the major game companies they nonchalantly slip in a company I never heard of. Sandlot are the people who made Reginleiv?!? How long are you gonna keep stealth marketing?! lol" [Note: lol. There has been a lot of hubbub on Japanese message boards about stealth marketing lately, so this comment was probably pretty amusing to a lot of people. Whether it was actually stealth marketing or not, who knows?]


"Japan is just closed off in itself. It's too bad."


"[…] If you compare to back in the day, they've begun to sell pretty well. Like they are even recommended."


One of the most popular game series in Japan is Capcom's Monster Hunter, which started in 2004.


"Rather than saying Western games, just say games in general aren't selling. The games that are selling now are only ones that have been building up a brand since ten years ago. Rather than saying we don't like war games, just say in Japan it's hard to sell anything that is not a series."


"[…] Isn't the image that Western game are all war games bad? I hate FPS war games and without exception will not play them, but there are other ones that I like quite a bit. Also, the modeling, from a Japanese perspective, is kind of primitive, or how should I put it… I don't hate them, but when you see the girls in Skyrim, no one thinks they are cute. […]"


"When you think of how Korean online games are spreading as they are, the degree of diffusion of so-called Western games is pathetic, lol. Well, these days with the strong yen it's probably not really the time to invest in expensive advertising, so they'll have a hard time going forward as well."


This conversation is much longer and still ongoing—there's obviously no way we could cover it all, unfortunately, and I'm sure the topic is one that will spawn threads for years to come. That said, I don't know about you guys, but among all the articles written about East vs. West, it's interesting to get a direct taste of how the Japanese gamers see it.

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