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Inafune attacks Japan's business culture

Ex-Capcom man dubs it a "communist state".

Departing Capcom R&D boss Keiji Inafune has taken some parting shots at the Japanese games industry, complaining that developers are being turned into lazy salarymen by out of date business traditions.

In an interview with Japanese site 4Gamer translated on NeoGAF, Inafune said, "The really big wall that the Japanese game industry is hitting is the changing of its creators into salarymen.

"In short, it's like a communist state. Working as hard as you can is your own loss. Not working hard becomes more advantageous. But doesn't that get in the way of making games? You can't make good games by just taking it easy.

"There are a lot of people who take their company's commitment for granted and don't work as hard as they should," he adds. "This could be said of the entire industry, and of course Capcom is no exception."

He goes on to apportion some of the blame to himself: "I was in the position of being a naysayer, and yet was assured a paycheck the next month. No matter how much one is late or skips work, or even no matter how lousy a game is made, the next month's paycheck was always guaranteed.

This complacency didn't matter so much in the early days of the videogame industry, Inafune explains, but things have changed.

"In the game industry 20 years ago, no matter what kind of game you made, you could sell 200 or 300 thousand copies. If you even made a decent game, it'd sell 500 thousand or a million copies. But those days are over.

"For one, competition has intensified, and furthermore, players have gotten 'used to' games. To use a simple analogy, any kind of erotic picture will turn on a middle school student, right? Oh, but it's not like that so much anymore."

Inafune went on to say that he thought things are much healthier overseas.

"There are of course publishers who keep developers 'like pets' but overseas there are more independent developers. For them, the goal is to make a hit, grow the company, sell it or do an IPO, and make lots of money. It's the American Dream."

This isn't the first time Inafune has made controversial comments about the state of the Japanese gaming industry. In September he said, "I look around Tokyo Games Show, and everyone's making awful games. Japan is at least five years behind."

The Mega Man creator announced he was leaving his role as Capcom's R&D chief last week to pursue his own projects. Resident Evil 5 producer Jun Takeuchi is set to replace him.

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Fred Dutton


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