Former Capcom Producer Keiji Inafune, the man behind everything from Mega Man to Onimusha and Dead Rising, was at the Electronic Entertainment Expo last month. And, software-wise, he wasn't too amazed.
"I was mostly handling interviews during E3 so I couldn't get around the show floor that much," he told Famitsu magazine. "But with the quick overview I had, I sadly didn't see any games this time that I really wanted to try out. We're right at the cusp of new hardware launches, after all, so my impression was that it was nothing but sequels and there aren't any new titles in the end. With the previous generational shift, too, it seemed like they couldn't do anything new, and the launch games for the new systems didn't really seem made for the systems, but were instead previous-gen games made for next-gen systems. That's the state we're in right now, and to be honest, I didn't see anything really new and innovative in this year's title lineup."
Inafune, who drew headlines in 2010 for declaring that the Japanese game development scene was "dead" and "five years behind" the West, was a lot more enthusiastic about the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One reveals during the show. "Of course, my impression is that they've got great capabilities as machines," he said. "However, instead of focusing on those capabilities, they're devoting their time to thinking about how to position the gamer with the hardware, or how to get them playing it. The first parties are challenging the game makers here, since it's their job to make their mission a reality, and both game creators and the gamers themselves are taking up this challenge and looking toward these new types of games. In that way I think they're both very meaningful platforms. Looking at the PS4 and Xbox One, I see very few cases of 'this platform can do this' and 'that one can't do that'. I doubt many gamers feel that way, either. There are lots of differences in the hardware design and other details, but in terms of differentiating themselves from each other, I don't feel there are massive differences."
This year's E3 wasn't a total loss software-wise in Inafune's eyes, however: he had praise for Sony's push to get indie games on the PS4 ("they felt innovative and interesting, in part because indie games have to be.") But the current head of game design studio Comcept was a lot more interested in the future offered by the new hardware, rather than what you can play on them right now.
"Looking back at this E3," he concluded, "I think that overall I got a lot of stimulation out of it. I was able to gain confidence about what I had to do, what I've been thinking about, and what I should do as a creator for these next-gen systems. So this E3 helped push me forward, to make want to push ahead and make new games. I'd like to continue surprising users with how the next generation of games can evolve, and I want to keep making games that push them in new directions."