In an interview with Games Industry, Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami chatted about the current state of Japanese game development and what inspired his latest foray into the gruesome world of survival horror with the upcoming The Evil Within. Interestingly, it seems the more action oriented path Capcom has taken with Resident Evil — specifically the last two games in the main series, which Capcom has aimed at the Call of Duty market — looks to have been at least partially responsible for Mikami’s return to the genre.
Mikami hasn’t made a horror game since Resident Evil 4 back in 2005. Since then, he’s seen many concepts which he’s “strongly disagreed with,” and while he wouldn’t divulge exactly what he’s unhappy with, he did mention that Capcom “started going in a different direction with Resident Evil,” and that is at least partially responsible for his goal to make a “true” survival horror game with The Evil Within. More after the jump.
It’s no secret the Japanese games industry has found itself on some shaky ground. Few Japanese developers have found much success, and of the few that do, their successes tend to be geared toward the Western market. An example of this would be Platinum Games, a developer made up of ex-Capcom employees, who has thrived making games that appeal to Western gamers, while retaining most of their wacky Japanese flavor.
For Mikami, what’s holding these developers back is their refusal to take risks. He mentions Western studios and their willingness to take risks by investing $30 million or more into the development and marketing of a game, and that this is something Japanese developers aren’t as willing to do.
“Games have become big projects, requiring a lot of resources both to create and market. Games have become more risky. Japanese companies don’t take those kinds of risks like Western developers do. In the past, what the Capcom president [Kenzo Tsuijimoto] told me was that game development is becoming more and more expensive and many Japanese publishers won’t be investing $30 million or more in a game,” Mikami told Games Industry.
In my opinion, this isn’t the biggest issue. Game development needs to be a fluid thing, it changes and evolves all the time, and many Japanese developers refuse to keep up. They’re stuck in their old ways, the same genres and archetypes. This, moreso than money, is what I think is really holding back these developers. You can make an amazing game, horror or otherwise, with a small budget. In fact, some of the best games of this generation have been of a smaller scale. Limbo, The Walking Dead: The Game, Braid, Super Meat Boy, the list goes on and on.
I’m as excited as anyone for The Evil Within, it looks gorgeous and I have faith Mikami and friends will deliver us a truly horrifying gaming experience. I’m just getting tired of developers and publishers spending so much time worrying about money, when that’s not the most important element in making a great game.
For the full interview, head on over to Games Industry.