Why Sony needs to invest in Japanese studios
- Posted January 8th, 2013 at 09:33 EDT by Paul Kelly
- 3 Comments
(continued from previous page) ...out the mess. Japan Studio, like Sony Santa Monica, co-produce games which other studios, as well as internally develop. Japan Studio houses Team ICO who is making The Last Guardian, which has been in development hell for some time. To put it into perspective, the last game Team ICO made was Shadow of the Colossus, which came out in 2005. That's nearly eight years without a release.
The Last Guardian has been anticipated for years and is nowhere to be seen.
Another studio taking too much time to make a game is Polyphony Digital. Yes, they produced Gran Turismo, which is one of Sony's biggest franchises, but it took them far too long to make it onto shelves. Both Gran Turismo 5 and Gran Turismo PSP took much longer to release than they should have. Ideally, Gran Turismo 6 should be a launch title for the next PlayStation console. Hopefully, Gran Turismo will also see the light of day on Vita, though when quizzed on the project Polyphony head honcho Kaz Yamauchi said it was 'confidential.'
The long lead times and lack of Japanese studios must be a management issue. Sony's Worldwide Studios, which overlooks all of Sony's developers, is headed by Shuhei Yoshida (who is a nice enough chap and very approachable -- just tweet him @ysop), but I get the feeling he needs to reel the studios in a bit and knock a few heads together. It needs stronger support in Japan, whether it be through start-up studios or buying existing development houses.
Start-up studios are probably the cheaper option but it would take a while to get some results and by then it might be too late. Buying studios is surely the perfect quick fix for Sony and given its financial situation - not as dire as some make out since they bought EMI, Ericsson and Gaikai last year as well as 10 percent of Olympus – it has money to spend, but is it willing to?
The other question is who to buy? There are numerous smaller Japanese studios who support Sony but these studios would have little impact given they already develop pretty much exclusively on Sony systems anyway. Looking at the big Japanese names then you could make arguments for several of them. Capcom is a no-go, buying Monster Hunter would be an immense boost but Capcom is far from in trouble, despite Resident Evil 6 selling worse than expected. Konami is pretty much out of bounds too, since they only have Kojima Productions with Kojima who is a Sony supporter, and has little else of note. SEGA is an option as its parent company Sammy might sell given how SEGA is losing them money. Not a great sign for Sony but some of its IPs are potential earners, Sonic of course being one of them. Maybe Sony could bring the blue hedgehog back to his former 16-bit glory? It would also be funny to see the reaction of the disgruntled Dreamcast fanboys who blame Sony for SEGA's demise out of the hardware space. It was SEGA's fault it got into financial trouble in the first place. That's a terrible reason to buy a company though in truth.
Maybe there’s Atlus? Though not as well-known as some of the others, it does make a lot of games and knows its market well. Admittedly, none of them are big sellers but its library would add quite a bit of content to Sony systems if it were to be bought. Namco-Bandai is an unlikely purchase, since it doen't have massive sellers in its portfolio either. Tekken was great back in the day, but the fighting game genre isn't what it was. I'd be happy with Tekken Tag Tournament 2 on the Vita personally. Namco is also releasing God Eater 2 on the Vita this year, which should help, but it's also launching on the PSP so it might not have a big impact.
The most likely investment, if any, by Sony for a third-party developer is surely Square-Enix. This is simply because Sony already has shares in it, around 9 percent. That isn't enough to be a board member so it has zero influence in the decisions made. Increasing the stake would allow Sony to get onto the board and pull some strings ... (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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