You probably remember that Keiji Inafune, best known for co-designing Mega Man, left his role as head of development at Capcom in October, 2010. Capcom’s loss of their 23-year veteran is soon to be our gain as Inafune has announced his next two projects: a Japanese social game and a PS3 exclusive RPG.
Details for the RPG are non-existent, but Intercept – Inafune’s game production company behind the title – was founded with three core mandates of originality, gravity (the ability to pull people in) and agelessness. Combine that with Inafune’s peerless experience and his clear frustration with what he feels is a stagnating Japanese games industry, and you can probably bet this RPG will not engage the JRPG tropes we may have grown tired of. Hopefully we will see something we have never seen before.
Inafune, whose work touched the Street Fighter, Resident Evil, Dead Rising, Lost Planet and especially, the Mega Man franchises, has spoken out for years that he believes the Japanese industry is lagging behind the West in terms of innovation. Keiji Inafune, speaking in September, 2010:
“I feel that many people in the [Japanese] industry are still living the glory of the 80s and 90s, so they don’t admit that there is a problem to start with. But there is. Just look at the domestic market, which has shrunk. Therefore it’s really important that we realize that we’re behind the western market now, get humble and start learning what’s going on. Otherwise the Japanese market is going to disappear completely.”
While social games have become wildly successful (with their slice of the games industry doubling to $1.4 billion in 2010), and with indie developers carving out markets where they simply didn’t exist just a few years ago, larger developers have become more risk-averse, sticking with the relative safety of sequels or clones.
As such, Inafune’s concerns should be a problem that the games industry as a whole is facing, though the western love-affair with the FPS (for example) has not slowed sales here, while Japan’s games industry has been shrinking. Inafune spoke about his reasons for leaving Capcom in a recent interview.
“In this industry, it’s often the creators who have the eye for potential hits but they’re not the ones deciding what gets published. We’ll see many more clashes as creator- management divides widen.”
You can read about Capcom’s response to Inafune’s departure here.
Whether Inafune is right or wrong about Japan, it is always exciting to hear about a games industry legend striking out to do something unique, and we look forward to seeing the first details about Intercept’s PS3 RPG.
Are you excited about Inafune’s ventures? Do you think Japanese developers are falling behind the times? Let us know.