In a new Gamasutra interview, Cliff Bleszinski, design director at Gears of War studio Epic Games, explained what he thinks Japanese game developers can do to improve their standing in the global video game marketplace.
"My advice to Japan is that in a disc-based market right now, you cannot [ignore multiplayer]," he says, adding, "I'm not saying tack multiplayer onto every game."
Grasshopper Manufacture's Shadows of the Damned, which had a lot of critical praise but flew under the radar of the mainstream, was "a wonderfully crazy adventure," says Bleszinski.
"...The dialogue had me laughing out loud, just even the key-door systems in there; it was a beautifully crazy game with really fun gameplay, but no multiplayer co-op experience in there. I'm not saying tack on versus; there's a billion different ways you can do some sort of 'players interacting with other players.'"
"And if you're going to make a third-person shooter... the fact that Vanquish didn't have a multiplayer suite was a crime," he says. The shooter, developed by Platinum Games under director Shinji Mikami, also failed to find a significant audience.
"That IP, it was pretty good as far as being Western, but the gameplay was great, the vibe... and I've often said on record that if Gears is the kind of Wild, Wild West coal train chugging along, that Vanquish is the Japanese bullet train, with style and everything. And there is absolutely no reason I shouldn't have been zipping around, doing the mega slides, diving up in the air in an arena with other players."
He does, however, recognize one Japanese franchise for getting multiplayer right -- even being influential.
Calling the Demons/Dark Souls series "one of the most innovative games" for its passive multiplayer, he says "that game is going to continue to inspire a lot of Western developers to figure ways that you can have connected elements in campaign games, and have more of a blended experience."
The full interview, in which Bleszinski looks under the hood of Uncharted, Silent Hill, and Resident Evil, among others, is live now on Gamasutra.