Keiji Inafune, storied Capcom franchise producer and current head of the company's global R&D and production, reiterates his fears that Japanese game development is being left in the dust as the Western scene explodes in talent and international appeal. In an candid interview with the New York Times, Inafune scolds homegrown efforts as being "at least five years behind" thanks to a "vicious cycle, a deflationary spiral" where business is not keeping up investment. Japanese development isn't as likely to take risks, and don't challenge themselves to break out of their moulds.
As it stands, Inafune feels even his own company can barely keep pace with Western developers, and he's not afraid to call out what his issues with Capcom are. Inafune feels Capcom is still not taking globalization seriously, being too fixated with placating its shrinking domestic market. Additionally the rift between developers and management at Capcom is too wide, leading to conflicts of interest; he compares his own company to Nintendo, where eighty percent of its board is actually comprised of longtime developers. And of course compensation is probably not where it should be, furthering hampering incentives to take risks.
To be sure, Inafune believes that if any Japanese company can turn things around and pave the way for a rebirth of the Japanese gaming industry, it's Capcom. He's no traitor; he says he's harsh on a "dead" market only because he wants to see it get back on its feet and save itself. Likening himself to 19th century samura Ryoma Sakamoto, Inafune knows the only way out of the slump is to shake the system and get global. Capcom has a chance to become truly global, if it can stop being complacent; their chances are certainly better than other Japanese companies, who may not be so lucky at this point.
Indeed, it may be too late for the rest of the Japanese industry to break into the North American market, if the intent is to deliver blockbuster titles. Inafune believes in that case, the next big step is Asian markets outside of Japan, namely China.
(Image Source: Xbox Japan)