Why Sony needs to invest in Japanese studios
- Posted January 8th, 2013 at 09:33 EDT by Paul Kelly
- 3 Comments
Sony’s first-party studios provide some of the best games available on any given platform. With the likes of Naughty Dog, Media Molecule, Sony Santa Monica, Guerilla and Polyphony Digital under its belt, these studios provide a reason for buying a PlayStation console more than pretty much anything else. One thing you may notice however, is that only one of those aforementioned developers - namely Polyphony Digital - is Japanese. The rest of them are either European or North American and for a Japanese publisher this must be a worry.
It's a worry because there’s a lack of content that caters for the Japanese market. That's fine here but in Japan it gives little reason to buy the consoles and it means relying on third-party publishers to fill the gaps. The most high profile third-party PlayStation game in Japan is Monster Hunter, developed and published by Capcom. The Monster Hunter series was a saviour for the PlayStation Portable and kept it from fading from extinction in the East. Portable consoles are more popular than home consoles in Japan and making sure you have the content to support it should be paramount.
Sony has always had good third-party support for their home consoles. Every major publisher has got behind the PlayStation name and provided some of the best games of all time on PlayStation consoles. With the PSP, this was the case too but as time went on support began to drop as did Sony's support too. It was only because Capcom had struck gold with Monster Hunter that the PSP continued to get support in Japan.
A Monster Hunter PSP Sony made just for that one series. It has a larger battery and more durable analogue nub.
This should have been a warning sign right there to Sony that it needs to invest in Japanese studios but it hasn't. Instead, when having a successor to the PSP in development it just assumed that the support was there, like it has with every previous console Sony has made. This wasn't the case and Capcom announced that the next Monster Hunter would be on the 3DS. That's where the problems with PlayStation Vita began.
It's no secret that Vita, arguably the best piece of hardware Sony has made in a while, is doing abysmally in Japan; it isn't just getting outsold by the 3DS but by the PSP as well. It's a nightmare situation which Sony has to fix and only it can change things around. Should it kill off the PSP and threaten to lose the third-party support it still has? Sony has to take a risk somewhere, but annoying the developers that still support it is suicide. I do think that getting more first-party Japanese developers should be Sony’s number one priority because while the PS3 is still doing well in the western territories and a new potential console is on the horizon, it's going to be hard to spread the developers across multiple platforms, especially when some of those developers don't want to make games on a handheld. Naughty Dog, one of Sony’s best developers, has also said that this is a big problem for Vita.
There is support from others though, including Media Molecule who announced Tearaway back at Gamescom. The LittleBigPlanet creator is looking to produce a really unique game on the Vita, something that the handheld is crying out for. There's also Killzone Mercenary coming from Guerilla Cambridge, which could prove to be a proper high quality FPS on the Vita, something which both Resistance: Burning Skies and Call of Duty Black Ops: Declassified should have been. Meanwhile, hopes in Japan are pinned on Soul Sacrifice, a co-op action game which is one of the most gruesome games I have ever seen. That is just one game though; there needs to be lot more.
The only other notable Vita exclusive Japan Studio that Sony has had a hand in is Gravity Rush, which is a fantastic game, one of the best on Vita. If Soul Sacrifice is the only game this year, in 2013, then Vita sales in that terrirtotry simply aren’t going to improve. Japan Studio itself has had numerous problems, which led to Allan Becker, who was at Sony Santa Monica, to head over to Japan to sort out the mess. ... (continued on next page)
- 12:25pm EST - January 8th, 2013
The Japanese simply do it better when it comes to video games.
- 2:44pm EST - January 8th, 2013
very well thought-out and compelling arguements. I would surely love to see sony at least have more thares in square enix. for both of their sake....
- 2:05am EST - January 9th, 2013
The japanese, when they're hitting the right targets are the perfect solution to the duldrums occasionaly experienced with western games. They shake things up and toss in fun or completely random elements that mix up the experience. Lately people have been pushing the Western style because a lot of the games that have really excited people have been western and easier to get into than the sometimes foreign feeling Japanese games. If you don't mind Japanese games then it's not a problem and they give you exactly what you want but if you're xenophobic and set in a certain mentality then it doesnt matter what they do it just comes out as dumb and something worthy of mockery. I will admit that sometimes they miss the mark and don't stretch a game to the potential it has which is something westerners have been doing but you can see them running out of steam now and I think it's an opportunity for the Japanese developers to reach for more potential buy doing the things they think will be exciting rather than stopping short and playing it safe.
In general Sony has not been showing them enough support which robs the company of it's identity and it's well rounded catalog, in fact Sony has generally forgotten what it is that makes them different from the other companies and this whole generation has just been them reacting to being 3rd. It's like they've had a complete lack of vision beyond releaseing the PS3 and hoping it lasts 10 years. If the PS4 is announced in Febuary it needs to come with a fully realized plan for what they want to deliver, not just say the want to deliver and fail 50% of the time to excite people and make them want to play games on their system. They've made it too easy for people to choose to play elsewhere and part of it is not only weak buisness choices but bad consumer saticefaction and an inability to meet everyday needs. I'm not saying "they didnt give us cross chat *whine*!" I'm saying they couldnt create things that made people forget about cross chat and be excited about something else even better. plus the lame store redesign, the poor marketing support for much of the last 5-6 years and the lack of games that make people forget about the 3rd party titles that went multiplatform or just finding ways to convince publishers to differentiate their 3rd party games from the other people in order to generate more sales. Japanese publishers used to spit on MS and run to their fellow japanese company, now they kiss the MS ring and that somehow feels wrong. /rant
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