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Capcom's Keiji Inafune

"The Japanese are stuck in a time warp."

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Image credit: Eurogamer

All Capcom games exist because Keiji Inafune said yes. As head of global research and development at the Japanese powerhouse, Inafune's the man responsible for approving game ideas from his own producers. A case in point: the recently announced Street Fighter X Tekken is in production because producer Yoshinori Ono convinced Inafune that it would be worthwhile.

Now that Inafune's just about finished his job as producer of Dead Rising 2, the tongue-in-cheek zombie chew-'em-up due out on PlayStation 3, PC and Xbox 360 later this month, you'd think he'd be on top of the world. He is not.

The state of the Japanese game industry is getting him down. Things are not going well in the Land of the Rising Sun, and Inafune refuses, unlike others in his homeland, to ignore the situation. Here, in an interview with Eurogamer, he goes deep into Japan's problems, and reveals his hope that Dead Rising 2 will wake up a few of his compatriots.

Eurogamer Dead Rising 2: Case Zero has just been released. Are you pleased with the reception?
Keiji Inafune

I haven't checked out everything, but generally speaking it looks like it's well received in Europe and in the US as well.

Having said that, we had a technical glitch with the ratings board in Japan, so the release was delayed to 15th September. Japanese users are bashing me, saying it's my fault and Capcom's fault. It's really nothing to do with us. So I'm a little bit disappointed with that. But apart from that it's been well received.

Eurogamer Why is it an Xbox 360 exclusive and not out on PS3 as well?
Keiji Inafune

Capcom has a strategy of multiplatform for every game, wherever possible. However, the original Dead Rising was 360-exclusive because the PS3 was not available around that time. It was a new approach and a unique concept for us at that time. However, 360 users supported the original game up until now. So it's a bit like fan service, if you like.

Eurogamer Will you release this kind of downloadable prequel to a major release again or is Case Zero a one off?
Keiji Inafune

This time around we just didn't want to go down the old boring way of cutting out part of the game and releasing it free of charge. We wanted to do something new. This is an experimental test case, if you like. Naturally, if it's well received, we would like to utilise that sort of business model for future titles as well.

Eurogamer Moving on to Dead Rising 2, what convinced you to approve development of the game?
Keiji Inafune

It was very much like the case of Street Fighter IV. The Capcom producers went around and all the journalists wished for the sequel for Street Fighter. Dead Rising was the same. We heard that lots of people wanted the second one to come out.

Having said that, because Dead Rising didn't sell well in Japan, we needed to do lots of persuading, especially of the management inside the company. However, it's our obligation to create a game that would be wanted by the fans.

The first 15 minutes of Dead Rising 2: Case Zero.
Eurogamer The game was developed by Blue Castle, a Western developer. As a Japanese producer, what was the biggest challenge?
Keiji Inafune

The largest challenge was to persuade the management inside of Capcom. Blue Castle created only a baseball game before Dead Rising 2, so they didn't have a track record of creating this type of game. They're in Canada, naturally. So in order to get the investment into the development, that was the hardest.

Eurogamer What have you learned from this experience that you would carry forward as you create more Western-developed games?
Keiji Inafune

I learned lots of lessons from this experience. Especially, I gained confidence so we can work with any developers around the world, not only Western but Asian later on as well. That means whenever we decide to create a game, we can pick up the resources in a global scale.