Talking about the Japanese game industry from the perspective of “job seekers”


Today I want to introduce the game industry in Japan, so that those who are developing in this direction can be a reference. Some places will specifically target the project.

The method I introduced is not a general introduction to the industrial structure. There is actually a lot of information of that kind, and it is a bit of a sense of distance. I believe everyone is particularly interested in the development of console games, so I will focus on this from the perspective of a former job seeker. Because there are elements of personal experience, it does not mean that the content is 100% correct, but I believe it can be used as a reference.

The romance of planning: putting ideas into game development

First of all, I want to insert a topic. Game planning is a profession with special dreams. After all, I have the opportunity to realize my ideas in the game. Because of this, in Japan, game planning is said to be a narrow career that is not easy to enter.

But it is also easy to disillusionment. There are many reasons for this. First of all, I have mentioned it before. Sometimes the plan is just trying to reproduce the idea that no one knows in the producer’s mind. This is a very energy-consuming task. Moreover, when the company is not large enough, it has to do multiple tasks, and Japanese companies sometimes do not have a precise division of labor, so they must also intervene in other aspects of work.

But there is one reason that people who don’t know enough about the game industry can easily overlook-the nature of games developed by companies. For example, if it is a company or project for a gashapon mobile game or MMO, it is actually an operation plan (运営プランナー). But the focus of operation planning will be on how to design activities to keep players active and krypton money, which does not necessarily mean game development. Moreover, operational planning is just like an engineer in nature, and often responds to emergencies based on community responses, which means temporary overtime work. Some Japanese will also expose the true face of these companies on the Internet.

The recruitment notice of Square Enix, although it is written that the development position is actually an operation plan

Because of this, when looking for a game company, you need to see the nature of that company’s games. For example, the recruitment of Square Enix in the above picture is an example that can be referred to. Although it is written as a development position, the job title and job content are both operational tasks. Only when writing this job, the fun of game development is also very general. Come in. Because game companies are generally short of people, this is not necessarily stated explicitly.

I am not saying that operational planning must be bad, but there are even more opportunities to climb up (described later). However, people who usually start from the mood of the players are looking for development projects, so the “narrow door” mentioned earlier also specifically refers to this type.

Looking for companies that are really developing games

So how do you find a development plan specifically? The most intuitive way is to enter those well-known game companies. It’s just that the competitors must be like crucian carp that crosses the river. It is not simple. But those companies are not the only options, I will talk about this next.


Game industry structure diagram (network diagram)

Some people may have seen some pictures like this. Although this is a domestic situation, I want to specifically explain the part of “game developer” and “game publisher”. These two words are Japanese, ディベロッパー and パブリッシャーcall.

Obviously, developing a game does not necessarily mean publishing a game. In the case of Japan, the most familiar companies such as Nintendo, Square Enix, Sega, Capcom, Bandai, etc., are actually publishers. The so-called issuance is not limited to marketing. Each publisher has a different method of allowing its own things to circulate on the market.

These publishers may contract out and let them develop the game. For example, “Pokémon” is a series developed by Game Freak all year round by Nintendo. In addition, many games are actually developed by game developers. In other words, these companies are actually options that can obtain opportunities. Although it is not necessarily a well-known company, many well-known producers have jumped out of their own companies, so they are actually Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The reason why these companies are not named is not because of lack of technology or the games are not fun, but simply because the funds required to publish the games are too large (this sentence is still established even for companies with 2 to 300 people).

There are more vendors developing console games than you think

The above does not mean that the publisher does not develop the game itself. Capcom gives the impression that it is almost self-produced and sold. Nor does it mean that publishers will not be entrusted by other companies. For example, Guangrong produced the Three Kingdoms series or Otome game, but also took over Nintendo’s “Snowy Moon”. In short, these game manufacturers help each other to create a complex industrial ecology, and the advantage for job seekers is that they have more opportunities to contact and develop.

Guangrong publishes games by himself but also undertakes Nintendo’s case. The ecology of developers and publishers is very complicated.

But since there are publishers who are also responsible for development, why have to use these two words to distinguish? In fact, only some companies are really only responsible for development. After all, it’s not just about developing games. Selling games requires huge amounts of money for marketing. Otherwise, if you just make a good game, you might face the problem of not being able to sell it.

Therefore, companies that have no spare capacity to publish unilaterally accumulate the know-how of developing games, and use the developer’s positioning to package themselves. So just like what I said earlier, it’s best if you can enter the most famous companies, but if you can’t help but want to hone the technology of game development, you can choose these companies. The vocational school is for students who want to enter the game industry. It is all recommended.

Even in the developers, there is still a chance to encounter famous games. For example, “Mario” has many works developed by companies that cooperate with Nintendo. This alone can satisfy a certain percentage of homeowners who want to make games themselves. After all, even if it is the same IP, the game concept can be different for each one, and there is a lot of room for play. Only a few of them just want to make original games, they will jump out.

Another question here is, why don’t publishers do it themselves? To put it bluntly, all ambitious creators always want to make “new” things. But on the one hand, fans’ demand for IP is so high that they can’t finish it, so they had to give IP to other companies. (The power and limitations of IP is a very interesting topic. It is expected that a separate topic will be set up in the form of articles or videos in the future.)

Having said that, it is undeniable that issuing original IPs by themselves is the dream of all game companies, because if they only accept commissions, they are equal to wage earners, not to mention that some IPs often do not disclose who their developers are in order to show off. Developers can be said to support the shadow of the Japanese game industry in secret.

The platinum studio that developed “Neil” is trying to transform into a publisher

If you look at the talks of the producers of some pure game developers, it is very common to mention that developing original games is a long-term dream (but it has not yet been realized). Recently, it has attracted more attention. The company that wants to transform from a developer to a distribution company is Platinum Studio.

The tricky part of console game development: hard to learn, hard to master

But it does not mean that development-oriented projects are necessarily the best, and other types of projects are definitely not. Next, let’s talk about the difficulties encountered by console game planning.

Needless to say, console games can be said to be one of the most mature game types. However, the potential problem is that the industry has matured to the point that it is difficult for younger generations to fully grasp, so it is easy to get stuck at a certain level. At the dawn of the game industry, because the scale of the game was extremely small, producers could hone the detailed production techniques while learning to master the overall game. And they also accumulate broader & deeper knowledge as the game scale gets bigger and bigger.

However, compared to these early predecessors, the scale of the game is now very large, so even if the juniors are very talented, they can only master certain parts and cannot see the full picture of the game. In addition, because the risk of commercial game development is high, it is impossible to hand it over to inexperienced people. As a result, a few elites monopolize the producer’s technology.

The “difficulty” mentioned here does not mean that you cannot become a planning master, but it will be limited to certain projects. If you want to go further, you will need more comprehensive knowledge. Especially large companies have a very fine division of labor, so the more they have this tendency, of course, if you just want to be proficient in a certain project, it is best to be able to do such a job. On the contrary, small and medium-sized enterprises have to hold multiple jobs, sometimes even higher entry barriers, making small and medium-sized enterprises always short of people.



Summary: Game planning can’t have only one thing

So what I want to say here is that the development time of the console game is long and the pace is slow. If there is no plug-in ability, it is very difficult to climb up in a short time or have amazing results.

And if you only focus on the planning ability of a specific project, it is easy to be replaced by others. Some companies often ask for additional planning or other development positions when they want to develop large-scale projects, but wait until the end of the project to terminate the contractual relationship (the first SE recruitment is an example). In a way, becoming a game project is just a ticket.

Regarding the fact that the producer is a scarce resource, because the argument of the above article is very interesting, and to a certain extent, it can show the difficulty of 3A game production.

Compared with this, although mobile games (or any new media in the future) need to involve operational knowledge and skills, it is not impossible because many companies that start in this area are start-ups and relatively have the opportunity to achieve results. Go in that direction. No matter what strategy is adopted, it can be seen that game planning cannot be satisfied with specific skills.

Because of this, many people in the Japanese game industry suggest to those who want to be planning: Start with programming or art. The advantage is that you will get involved in planning in the future and you will have at least two majors. Many producers climbed up this way. And if it is a pure project, the previous producer mentioned that it needs special abilities. It can be said to be an area where there is no positive attack.

Source: CINE the Shadow Seeker

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