When I did contract work on a Japanese game and had to negotiate my contract with a whole room of designers, artists, and so on -- I knew I'd be doing interviews for this game myself, but I was trying to fight for my own salary, to get as much as I felt I was worth.
But in doing so, I could tell for sure -- they were all under the age of 30 -- I knew they were making less money than I was making on this contract, because of how the structure works. I was still getting less than I thought I should get, but I knew I was getting more than any of them, which was upsetting. I can see this structure is what's keeping them there.
KI: Certainly; that hasn't changed at all. Maybe a handful of people are getting paid well, but that's only a small subsection.
Even people who the overseas media think are really active and contributing to the industry -- as long as they're with the companies they work for, they're working for surprisingly low salaries. If they tried negotiating, the response would very likely be "Well, we don't need you that much."
Japanese people are very bad at giving credit to the individual -- you have value because you are a part of the organization, not because of your personal talents. This is just the thing that's really necessary in all kinds of entertainment industries.
If the Japan game industry tries to change, then there's not going to be much change unless it becomes more able to recognize the talents of its creators.
Are you going to lead by example? How are you going to do it differently?
KI: It's something I want to change. The games I worked on -- if I were still at Capcom, it'd come out in interviews and so forth that I was the producer, but I wouldn't have any legal rights to my own work. My concept involves going along a different path as we work with publishers.
Not all publishers are going to agree with that, but creating an original idea and making an original game based off of that should allow you to retain the rights to that concept. Instead of worrying about how much money we're going to receive, worry about the rights you have -- the recognition you receive. If the concept can then be expanded and used in different fields, the money will come later. That's what I'm starting with, at least.
As long as the credit isn't there, the assertions of the creators aren't going to be heard. That's where the effort is going. Here's an interesting story: GREE and DeNA are the two largest players in the social market in Japan right now. If you brought up this topic with both of those companies, it would just be stating the obvious to them.
In fact, they don't care who has the original concept rights -- they care about the rights to provide the service. That's what they pay out money to developers in exchange for. If you brought up that idea to game makers in the traditional console fields, the response would be "No, no, we can't do that". Trying to retain these sorts of copyrights is an uphill battle with a lot of companies, but with GREE and DeNA it's how they've always done it. It's a different world.
So you also have Intercept, the development company. Have you started that up? If so, will you be able to foster the creativity of the people with you, so it's not just an Inafune-led thing?
KI: It depends on who comes up with the idea. The way Comcept and Intercept work is that so far, I am the one leading the way with the concepts. It's a chance to assert things and be able to say that only Inafune is behind them. But if someone else comes up with a great idea and we want to go through with it, that's certainly not a problem to give that person credit. Comcept's copyright gets attached to that, and I don't mind if that person gets a copyright as well. That's how I approach it.
Right now, though, if I go up to a publisher and say "Okay, here is a Comcept title," they'll say "Did you come up with this, Mr. Inafune?" If I say that I wasn't involved, then we're probably not going to get the work. I would have to lie if I wanted to retain people's interest, but I don't want to do that, so right now we're only working on games that I'm involved with. But if Comcept works out well and I'm able to say in the future "We've got creators here as talented as I am," then we can get rolling.