Miyamoto has been thinking about why action games have been declining in popularity in Japan, whilst growing in the West – he has decided that Japanese gamers ‘just want to play’ and get deterred by difficult games. Has Miyamoto lost the plot, and all memory, or is he right?
In an interview with 4Gamer, Miyamoto said
The issue is that Japanese who cannot overcome the level of difficulty in an action game no longer want to play them. This perception then spreads to all games as a whole, and people avoid them because they see them as difficult. In the case of America, there are a lot more people who enjoy a challenge and will stick with it for you and try to overcome the initial hurdle. […] Some players just enjoy playing, some prefer to finish it, and some prefer greater challenge. People looking for a challenge will dismiss an easily cleared game as “easy.” But by making things too difficult, the people who just want to play get driven off. I always wanted to accommodate both types.”
Now, maybe I’m showing my age here, but didn’t it used to be that games were made EASIER for the Western audience? That in Japan there was no easy mode, and normal was actually hard or something? We were always told that; Japanese gamers were constantly portrayed as more hard core than us. Now, apparently they just want to play casual games?
I think we should maybe consider that casual games are being pushed on the Japanese market. There are still plenty of Japanese gamers who want a challenge – just look at Dark Souls. Then again, we also have tons of games oriented towards younger audiences. Maybe Miyamoto would find that Japanese gamers would play harder games if they were interesting – The Last of Us is selling like hot cakes in Japan, and that game isn’t easy!
I think maybe Miyamoto is seeing a trend in gaming, but I don’t think it just applies to the Japanese. In general, there is a shift in gamers towards wanting things more spelled out. Quests must be easy to follow, without having to actually read the instructions given. Hints should pop up, helping you get through if you’re struggling, and there should be a way to make things easier. Sure, there will always be games that are designed to be difficult, but (as a general rule) it seems that games have been dumbed down to an extent. Or maybe we’re all just growing up and the same puzzles or hurdles just don’t seem as hard anymore.