Is Sony really committed to making more Japanese games? (pic: Sony)
A reader is angered by a new interview with Sony’s Hermen Hulst and the lack of new games from Japanese developers on the PS5.
As a PlayStation 5 owner since day one I would say I am generally happy with my purchase. It’s a good, powerful machine, the DualSense is great, and the software support so far has been better than any other Sony console out of the gate. Except in one very obvious area: Japan. So far there has not been a single full price Japanese first party game released for the PlayStation 5 and currently none are scheduled except Gran Turismo 7 – a simulator whose country of origin is irrelevant (would anyone have known Microsoft Flight Simulator was French, if they hadn’t looked it up?).
This is terrible in all sorts of way, starting with the fact that Sony is a Japanese company. Although according to Sony Worldwide Studios Hermen Hulst he’s adamant that, ‘we are in some ways very much a Japanese company still’. While noting that telling use of the phrase ‘in some ways’ I will now list the number of things that still make Sony a Japanese company: 1) their HQ is in Japan. 2) There is no number two, that’s it.
Even that’s not really true when it comes to PlayStation, as they moved the PlayStation business HQ to the US a number of years ago, and boy does that show. Since then, the most Japanese support they’ve had is a remake of Japanese classic Demon’s Souls by a company from Texas and a game set in medieval Japan by a company from Washington. Not only does Sony no longer make or publish Japan games but it takes the ones that should be Japanese and gives them to the most American companies imaginable.
The one exception is Team Asobi, who made Astro’s Playroom. Sony has been fairly keen to promote them and their new boss named *checks notes* Nicolas Doucet because the biggest Sony related story about Japan this year has been that they’ve shut down the rest of Japan Studio, the longest running PlayStation studio, that’s been there since the very beginning.
I was inspired to write this feature (in a bit of hurry, so apologies if this is a bit stream of consciousness) because of the interview I quoted with Hermen Hulst by Game Informer. Like most Sony interviews it doesn’t really say much but the constant use of weasel words and half-truths annoyed me so much I had to put pen to paper, or rather fingers to touchscreen, as soon as possible.
‘That’s our heritage. That’s still part of who we are. We love our Japanese games’, he says, knowing full well that there’s absolutely nothing to back up this statement. There’s clearly nothing coming out this year from Japan and we can assume well into next year or they’d have announced it already. Horizon Forbidden West and God Of War were known about years ago and yet will be lucky to come out next year, so it’s going to be at least that long until Sony’s ‘love’ of Japanese games is revealed. (Pro tip: it won’t be, they’re lying about all this.)
‘We are very invested in Japanese development and Japanese development is something that we love … I think it’s such a core part of the PlayStation identity that I can’t ever see us shy away from Japanese or even Asian development’, says Mr Hulst.
Who said anything about ‘Asian’ development? Does Hulst think all Asian countries are the same? If he was asked why he hasn’t got any Mexican developers and he started talking about the US and Canada instead, would that seem a reasonable thing to do? Continents are big things and the countries within them are not all the same.
Even Microsoft has acknowledged that Japan is the ‘spiritual home of video games’ and that’s despite the Xbox never selling there and them having no strong links with any Japanese company. You might have thought Sony would have seen that as an obvious advantage of theirs but no, they’ve thrown all that away with the closure of Japan Studio and their complete disinterest in working with other Japanese developers.
Hulst was presumably trying to assure fans that Sony is still invested in Japan but apart from completely failing at that it doesn’t really matter what he says. Actions speak louder than words and it only takes one look at the release schedules to see just how important Sony thinks Japanese development is to its current and future plans.
By reader Baker
The reader’s feature does not necessary represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.
For more stories like this, check our Gaming page.