Harunori Satomi, head of Sega and Sammy, spoke recently on Bitsummit regarding the Japanese market’s continued reticence to Western trends in video games. In particular, he puts forward the idea that Japanese don’t want to play military first-person shooters because of World War II.
Satomi elaborates that Japan has parity with the rest of the world when it comes to casual games like Candy Crush Saga, but when it comes to more hardcore games, differences emerge. Another trend in the West that Satomi says is unpopular in Japan is the preponderance of older male lead characters. Asian gamers prefer games where middle school or high school students become stronger.
While the common perception is that Japanese developers have fallen behind the West in regards of these trends, a case may also be made wherein the biggest trends in the West do not truly reflect what everyone wants to play around the world.
We can certainly see this in the release of games like Grand Theft Auto V and Call of Duty, which may have topped the sales charts at launch, but perform painfully low compared to the rest of the world, and to other more established Japanese franchises. Personally, I feel this is an aspect of Japanese gaming the West does not have hold on, and they feel they can afford to ignore Japan for now, they may regret doing so in the future.