Masahiro Sakurai, who is currently at the helm of the latest installments of the Super Smash Bros. series for the Wii U and 3DS, recently talked about the development time of Japanese games in his weekly column in the Japanese publication Famitsu, and how it differs from Western development times. Hit the jump to view his comments and how it could relate to the Zelda series.
“Whether it’s domestic or international, development speed is a case-by-case scenario, so I feel this may be a biased opinion. I think the Yakuza team is quite fast considering the scale of their games, and some foreign games can take over 5 years from initial proposal to the actual product release.
However, the fact that someone asks this does seem to indicate that it’s not completely unfounded. If I were to guess, it seems that foreign studios have the appearance of a stricter product schedule and organization. Then again, in some cases, even if the development period is long, the development staff can be small, so the entire picture is a mystery.
Also, the time between announcement and release does not necessarily equal the development period. In most cases, when development actually started is never publicly announced.
In any case, whether it’s cost-effective or not is what’s important. Whether the development period is long or short, the real questions is if the man-hours spent can bring about a profit or results. Of course, this is also a case-by-case scenario.”
While some games, like Zelda, seem to have incredibly long development times, A Link Between Worlds was only revealed last spring and was released the following November. As Mr. Sakurai points out, game development doesn’t begin when a game is announced. At that point, a game has usually been in development for some time. As was pointed out, it is a case-by-case basis, and it is interesting that Western studios may seem to be more organized and have a stricter product schedule, resulting in shorter development periods. While the Zelda series is given a lot of grief sometimes due to the long droughts between game releases, in the end does this bring us, the gamers, a better product? Does it help the studio amass a greater profit? To Masahiro Sakurai, these are the true questions that must be answered.
What do you think? Do longer development times benefit games or hurt them? Is this a Japanese phenomenon or does it transcend boundaries? Let us know what you think in the comments!
Update: Sakurai also provided an update on the pain in his arm in this interview, after explaining last year how it was hindering his work on developing Smash. (-Reece)
“The tendon sheath inflammation symptoms in my left forearm are especially hard to deal with. I’ve been moving the controller as gently as possible. And losing at Smash Bros….”