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E3: Itagaki - Japanese Publishers 'Sort Of Pretend They Know What They're Doing'
E3: Itagaki - Japanese Publishers 'Sort Of Pretend They Know What They're Doing'
June 8, 2011 | By Christian Nutt

Outspoken developer Tomonobu Itagaki, currently developing Devil's Third for THQ, tells Gamasutra that while Japanese publisher management doesn't understand games, crucially, U.S. execs do.

"The head, the guy I'm involved with, is [THQ's EVP of core games] Danny Bilson. As you know he can make movies, he can write novels, scripts, he can do TV, and he can do games as well, and also he's a businessman as well. He's that kind of guy, so it's really fun to do business with that kind of guy," Itagaki told Gamasutra in an interview conducted at the E3 show, currently ongoing in Los Angeles.

"More so in the U.S. than in Japan, I think there are a lot of top management people who actually know how to make games. I think there are more people here like that, than in Japan. I think it's a good thing."

In Itagaki's view, having a background in game development is crucial to making the right decisions: "Those guys know how to make games -- so they know it takes money to make good games. Those two aspects are on a direct one-to-one relationship. So I think it's very practical to be that way."

However, that's not as often the case in Japan, he says. "In Japan, management people sort of pretend they know what they're doing. Those management people, they say, 'I love games,' but they don't know how to make them... It's the opposite of practical. It's not practical."

Itagaki did tell Gamasutra, in the answer to a later question, that he couldn't say for sure exactly what the situation is at all Japanese companies. He famously resigned from and sued former publisher Tecmo over unpaid bonuses. He settled with the company, which was later acquired by Koei, last year.

For his part, Bilson said last year at the IGDA Leadership Forum that he doesn't see the need to tell developers how to do their jobs. "It waters down a concept, and it costs a fortune," he said. "It costs a fortune for all that iteration!"

"That's what creative management is. It's enabling talent to get their vision through," he said.

The full interview with Itagaki, who's also well-known as creator of the Dead or Alive series, will be forthcoming on Gamasutra.

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