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Inafune: 'I Don't Rely On Metrics Slavishly'
Inafune: 'I Don't Rely On Metrics Slavishly' Exclusive
October 21, 2011 | By Staff

Ex-Capcom R&D head Keiji Inafune has embarked on development of two social games, but he isn't overly-reliant on metrics, he tells Gamasutra in a new feature interview.

His studio, Comcept -- formed April this year -- is developing a social game for each of Japan's big operators -- The Island of Dr. Momo for GREE and J.J. Rockets for DeNA.

These companies, like Zynga and others in the West, pursue metrics-driven game development. But does Inafune believe in it?

"If you rely on those, then basically what you've got is a set of numbers that don't necessarily tell you anything. Just because you know what someone's favorite food is doesn't mean you really know the person," says Inafune.

"So I don't rely on metrics slavishly; I give them quick looks, absorbing them and reflecting them against my own thoughts to analyze what they mean."

The Mega Man creator believes that instinct is what separates a developer from a mere computer: "Game creators have to be really good at that internal sort of analysis; otherwise you're just looking toward marketing data for your game ideas, and a computer can do that. No matter how advanced a supercomputer you have in the future, it still can't be creative or imaginative."

He also believes that social and video games may converge or evolve into an entirely new form of entertainment in the future:

"I think that eventually, we'll see a new kind of game which is neither console nor social, one that overcomes the obstacles that both current game styles have to deal with. I don't know what that's going to be yet, though, so that's why I'm trying to learn more about this market. I know you can't just do the same quick-fire-cash method everyone else does, or else everything's going to be a me-too game."

The full interview, in which he discusses what the Japanese game industry is lacking and what he hopes to achieve with his new companies Comcept and Intercept, is live now on Gamasutra.

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Bruno Patatas
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It's refreshing to see the serious approach to social games that Inafune is showing, specially after the interview with Matsuyama that labeled social games as 'junk'.

Can't wait to see the work of this established creators in such a controversial market as it is right now. Hope for much better game design and overall direction, as also more clever and transparent monetization practices.

William Johnson
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I hope we see Inafune's games in the states. He's definitely up there as one of the few gaming titans left in Japan.

Joshua Dallman
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As a social game designer for 2 years (and designer for 7), and coming from Playdom, Digital Chocolate, TinyCo, and now at Z2Live, your thoughts nail it. What I've found, is that there's a lot of money in social games right now and therefore a lot of risk-adverseness especially on the part of investors and boards. And they're not willing to move in a direction based on someone's "instinct" because instinct is an unproven, non-repeatable, risky bet compared to "proven" repeatable safe analytics (also why we see so many clones). And so decisions and design happens on the lynchpin of analytics, and when the first A/B test comes back and that perfect price point is discovered and profits double overnight, well holy hell that is the point of no return for that developer, and it's going to be analytics leading all the way for them. Meanwhile developers like Z2Live, and the very design-forward and vocal Rick Thompson, and yourself, along with a small handful of others, pave the way forward with a marriage of analytics and instinct, creating games in the tradition of traditional game design, while enhancing the design via the edge and insights that metrics provides.

Carlo Delallana
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Just saw a recent RSA video ( and it ended with a quote by Albert Einstein.

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”

Metrics and Analytic Data are meant to serve Intuition, enabling it to make the necessary associations that could lead to more innovative experiences for players. This goes beyond optimization, players want more than an optimized experience...they want to be surprised.

Adam Gutterman
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+1 to everything Josh said.

Jorge Ramos
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I for one personally hope to see much success come inafune's way; he definitely seems to have his head together, and isn't letting his tenure at Capcom blind him to how he could continue to do well for himself and the industry at large.

Maybe he and Suda 51 should consider a joint project together. I have a lot of respect for both of them, and if they could get some kind of collaborative project together, I'm sure it'd be brilliant anywhere and everywhere.