Kojima: Japan must use foreign talent

It's the only way to close quality gap.

The Japanese games industry must employ more Western talent if they hope to crack foreign markets, so says Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima.

Speaking in an interview with Famitsu, translated by 1Up, Kojima explained that publishers should employ Western developers to make Western games, rather than try and do it themselves.

"It's hard to feel this when you're in Japan, but there is a gap opening between the West in terms of pure quality," he said.

"If you're trying to break out overseas, then I think the only way is to divide your development teams between the Japanese and global markets. It's impossible to encompass it in a single group - everything needs to be separate, down to the office and pay structure.

He went on to argue that many Japanese publishers were reluctant to bring in foreign studios as they expected to be paid more than homegrown developers.

“There are loads of talented developers overseas, but you can't get them unless you spend the money. If you base your calculations off the standard Japanese salary structure, nobody's going to come to you. It's the difference between what you pay a Hollywood star versus a Japanese film star."

Kojima also suggested that Japanese publishers might enjoy more success abroad if they better understood what most Western gamers want to play.

"To put it in an extreme fashion, Americans like games where you have a gun and you're shooting at space aliens," he explained.

"If you don't understand why that's fun, then you shouldn't be making games for the world market; you don't need to.

“I mean, Japanese people might say 'Why space aliens?', but Americans will counter with 'What's with these games featuring these feminine-looking boys fighting in Japan with these huge swords?' It's no wonder the target audience for a lot of games is getting so compartmentalised."

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Fred Dutton

Fred Dutton

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Fred Dutton was Eurogamer's US news editor, based in Washington DC.

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