Is Sony turning its back on Japan with the PS4?

by William Schwartz


It’s official, the PlayStation brand is no longer Japanese.  Now that the PS4 has been announced in New York, revealing probably not as much as I hoped, such as the actual console, the Sony PlayStation is officially a Japanese-America, or Japanese-Canadian, or Japanese-Brit depending on where its launch games are being developed.

PlayStation 4 has received its immigration papers and Sony looks to be taking Microsoft head-on by announcing their next gen console first.  Obviously Vita will still be the main PlayStation brand in Japan, but there doesn’t look to be a lot from PS4 to interest a Japanese gamer.  And maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

Launch titles include the usual exclusives from loyal developers, Quantic Dream = Beyond: Two Souls, Sucker Punch = Infamous Second Son, Guerrilla Games = Killzone Shadow Fall.  Other third party supporters, and pleasant surprises include Diablo 3 and Bungie’s first post-Halo release, Destiny.  So far it seems the only two revealed launch titles developed by a Japanese studio are Capcom’s Deep Down, and Knack by Studio Japan.  There was mention of a new Final Fantasy for PS4, but no details.  Considering Square Enix and Capcom to be Japanese developers is a bit of a stretch, but nonetheless count as being part of the minority in an overwhelming majority of Western support for PS4.

The end of the Japanese era really hit home during an IGN interview with Ubisoft Montreal’s Creative Director for Watchdogs, Jonathan Morin.  The director spoke with a noticeable French-Canadian accent and the IGN interviewer even had difficulty pronouncing his name.  Ubisoft Montreal has been responsible for some of the biggest titles in HD, commercially at least, including the Assassin’s Creed series.  Not to be confused with Eidos Montreal, developer of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, or Bioware’s Montreal studio, developer for much of Mass Effect 3 and the next entry in the Mass Effect Series.  Although only an Ubisoft  title has been announced as part of the PS4 launch, everything seems to be coming up French-Canadian these days.   Le PlayStation de Sony?  Le Xbox?

C’est la vie.  That’s life.  By no means is this current trend away from Japanese influence a bad thing.  Japanese developers are like the parents or mentors of the current and next generation even if the two styles are nothing like each other.  I would like to see traditional Sony supporters like Atlus and Sega developing new projects for HD consoles.  But they were at their peak and most relevant one or two generations ago, like the Megaten and Persona series on PS2.  They might continue on developing for tried and true tech, while others carry on with the next generation, just as before.  And once again, Team Ico’s the Last Guardian is no where to be found.  Some one needs to make a decision on that.  Cancel or continue?

The Japanese practically invented video games as we know them, Nintendo and Sony certainly invented the console, however Japanese games don’t really have a place in mainstream culture anymore.  In some ways I’m sad, and nostalgic about playing all those Japanese games that once dominated the market place, but that was probably back in the days of the Super NES or original PlayStation.  Nevertheless, I’m still excited for the future.  Wii U and PS4 are revealed and almost ready to go.  The Wii U might need a re-boot to start all over again.  Microsoft is next, and maybe Valve or Apple.  Video games are stronger than ever, and the dominant medium for entertainment in today’s world.  It doesn’t matter where they come from.

I’m curious about what others think about PS4 and the state of Japanese gaming.  Are you pleased with Sony’s reveal and the list of launch titles?  Does the lack of a Japanese influence concern you?  Or did you even notice?  Let me know what you think.  There’s no right or wrong point of view, though some opinions might be a little more correct than others.  This is Attack of the Fanboy, after all!

- This article was updated on:March 8th, 2018

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