Miyamoto: Japanese gamers don't like hard games

2 min read

Miyamoto has been thinking about why action games have been declining in popularity in Japan, whilst growing in the West – he has decided that Japanese gamers ‘just want to play’ and get deterred by difficult games.  Has Miyamoto lost the plot, and all memory, or is he right?

In an interview with 4Gamer, Miyamoto said

The issue is that Japanese who cannot overcome the level of difficulty in an action game no longer want to play them. This perception then spreads to all games as a whole, and people avoid them because they see them as difficult.  In the case of America, there are a lot more people who enjoy a challenge and will stick with it for you and try to overcome the initial hurdle. […] Some players just enjoy playing, some prefer to finish it, and some prefer greater challenge. People looking for a challenge will dismiss an easily cleared game as “easy.”  But by making things too difficult, the people who just want to play get driven off. I always wanted to accommodate both types.”

Now, maybe I’m showing my age here, but didn’t it used to be that games were made EASIER for the Western audience?  That in Japan there was no easy mode, and normal was actually hard or something?  We were always told that; Japanese gamers were constantly portrayed as more hard core than us.  Now, apparently they just want to play casual games?

I think we should maybe consider that casual games are being pushed on the Japanese market.  There are still plenty of Japanese gamers who want a challenge – just look at Dark Souls.  Then again, we also have tons of games oriented towards younger audiences.  Maybe Miyamoto would find that Japanese gamers would play harder games if they were interesting – The Last of Us is selling like hot cakes in Japan, and that game isn’t easy!

I think maybe Miyamoto is seeing a trend in gaming, but I don’t think it just applies to the Japanese.  In general, there is a shift in gamers towards wanting things more spelled out.  Quests must be easy to follow, without having to actually read the instructions given.  Hints should pop up, helping you get through if you’re struggling, and there should be a way to make things easier.  Sure, there will always be games that are designed to be difficult, but (as a general rule) it seems that games have been dumbed down to an extent.  Or maybe we’re all just growing up and the same puzzles or hurdles just don’t seem as hard anymore.

Last Updated: July 15, 2013

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Zoe Hawkins

Wielding my lasso of truth, I am the combination of nerd passion and grammar nazi. I delve into all things awesome and geek-tastic. I believe people should stop defining themselves and just enjoy playing games, so let's get on with it!

  • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

    My mind cannot comprehend this paradoxical statement. It makes no sense lol.

    But yeah there is a trend to have things more “spoon fed”. I remember back in the days you had to read your quest summaries etc to find out what to do. If I think back on Morrowind, if you didn’t read your quest journal to find out who to see, where and why, you were going to have an absolute horrid time just running around with no clue as to what is going on. THAT is fun gameplay IMHO. The need to think.

    But hey, I guess the numbers speak. Pitty games are all going towards the “handholding” side of things 🙁

    • Hammersteyn

      I played the BF3 campaign this weekend. It was AWFUL. Everytime I want to flank the enemy it tells me to get back to the mission area. Everytime I have to wait for the AI to get to the next point before we can continue on the treadmill designed level. I want freedom to explore and to play it my way. Like Far Cry 3.

      • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

        I hear you man. However, on-the-rails games are still needed. We all need the popcorn games at some stage when we don’t feel like investing a lot of thought, but unfortunately on-the-rails has become the mainstream which kind of sucks

        • Hammersteyn

          I’m fine with on the rails like Metro last light. BF3 is just boring and they hold your hand most of the time. Even the AI kills the enemies most of the time.

          • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

            lol. Ok yeah I will admit the BF3 SP was a bit meh

          • John Ambitious

            BF3 SP…played about 20 min of it and then remembered I have other games.

    • Wtf101

      Is this hand holding thing a pity really? To me it is kind of a blessing in disguise. I simply do not have that much time to play games than I had say, ten years ago. Now at least, I am not running around like a freshly beheaded chicken trying to find a bloody sweetroll to pass the first quest in a game.
      So even me that has very little time left to game sees some form of progress, as opposed to the none I would have if I had to quit gaming.
      And games cost a lot to make. I do not think that core gamers can sustain this industry alone. They need the bucks from the more “casual” (and here I do not mean the guy that plays Angry Birds on a phone) gamers to keep making games…

      • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

        Yes it is a pitty because there is nothing else. Other than Dark Souls every other game holds your hands.

        Now, I also have life happening to me and I have little time to really game. In the times I have little time I do the whole popcorn shooter or easy to play game thing.

        But when I have a few good hours to kill, that’s when I like to whip out the challenging games. I need to have both.

        Easy games have their place but so do hard games and unfortunately there just aren’t enough (if any) trully hard games being made anymore.

        You don’t have really difficult puzzles to solve, or only a vague quest update that makes you play a bit of detective to actually figure out where to go. Those elements that really drew a person in are all gone and instead replaced with shiny graphics to try and immerse you graphically but not intellectually.

        So yes, while I agree we need ease of access games, the industry needs to start working on challenging games. And by that I don’t mean the likes where your health depletes faster when shot or enemies gain more health. I am talking about actual problem solving and the like. If I get to a tough point I would like to then put the game down and ponder over it a day or so while at work and then try my various strategies out once I get home. That’s when I enjoy my games the most when I sit and think up solutions while away from the game which then makes me want to go back to the game later on and try my different things. That is what I miss about gaming from back in the day (well, not THAT long ago really but it feels like a lifetime anyway)

        • Trevor Davies

          How difficult is it really to have a little check box to turn quest markers on or off?

          • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

            Most games have that. But the fact is even this still isn’t on the level it used to be. Quest logs are so detailed now that you cannot possibly misunderstand what needs to be done.

    • Sir Twakkus

      Think? What is this sorcery you speak of?

  • Trevor Davies

    I don’t mind a difficult game, as long as it’s fair in it’s challenge I’m good to go. It’s way more interesting than “press X to win.” Think maybe they’re going a bit far in their quest to make games “accessible.”

    • Hammersteyn

      Souls isn’t difficult. Once you figure out the openings in a Boss battle like when to attack an when to run it’s just a matter of time depending on how many times to stuff it up. But people are impatient, that’s the problem.

  • RMKennySA


    • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

      Something tells me Google translate misses a few integral language rules along the way:

      All right, let’s see. Everyone is trying to translate this? Seriously! Did you use Google Translate only for you? The so-called free time, you were there … you did not! And you have the road to it much. Then again. By doing this, it shows that you have the free time I have today … that too, Monday … I hate Mondays. You’re still reading this? You need to get back to work … I wonder im going for to have for lunch today …

      • RMKennySA

        A lesson can be learnt from this. Do not use google translate if in Japan! You would think that as i used google from english to japanese when you did it backwards it should have been the same thing.. Or at least similar.

    • OVG


      • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

        Really? It couldn’t translate sushi? REALLY!?

        • Concerned

          Ha ha ha! SO funny! ????

    • John Ambitious

      I love doing this to random people. They don’t usually love it as much though

    • Gerhard Davids

      Even self written the translation generally isn’t spot on but can get the gist of it.

  • Umar Kiiroi Senk?

    I thought Japan was the home of Hard games. I remember Dmc 3 Hard mode was normal mode in the US version lol Japan loves hard games, but I think this is a general trend, one which I honestly hate…… without challenge I just find myself bored with a game. Played TLOU on hard and I don’t think I would have enjoyed it as much on normal or easy ….. Where has the days gone of Bird Puzzle in Silent Hill 1 or the Tetris like puzzle in Resident Evil 3 ….. for me, honestly, Easy Games are the worst type of games

    • Hammersteyn

      Easy games bore easier than hard games. This is typical Japan. They started WW2 with the USA but gave up because it became to hard to continue playing.

      • Trevor Davies

        That made me lol for all the wrong reasons.

        • Umar Kiiroi Senk?

          Same here lol

      • John Ambitious

        Joining in the laughter here

      • RinceWind

        Hahaha! BURN!

  • OVG


    • Hammersteyn

      Next they will give the players access to guns…. and drones…. and dogs….. and fish that swim away instead of sucking your soul through your nostrils when you get to close.

      • OVG

        Via Micro transactions.
        The FAME has gone to their heads. It is now mainstream so expect more access to the casual market. DIFFICULTY DLC.
        lol I always jinx these things.

        • Hammersteyn

          SOULS difficulty! The easy mode probably means you keep your souls even if you die 🙁

        • Trevor Davies

          Ranger mode for Metro Last Light :/

          • OVG

            THQ kind of went off the rails before their demise.

  • Hammersteyn

    Finishing a Souls game means you are either very good or bad at games but sadomasochistic enough to push through. I was in the latter category. Introduce a easy mode and everyone will strut like they are a boss.

    • Weanerdog

      The only reason why I can finish a game is because it is much easier now than when I was a kid. Most games was an achievement to get past stage one.

  • Kromas

    FTL nuff said.

  • TiMsTeR1033

    I still must play this game!!

  • RinceWind

    What? I don’t understand that. If it were the case then Wii U would be doing much better, surely?

  • Mossel

    I remember when games just became quicker and harder untill you died.

  • Harvey P. Cheesewinkle

    I think both Miyamoto and Zoe (no offense meant Zoe) simply forget that there are 7 billion people on the planet, and with the emergence of the smart phone and tablet more people have access to games, than in the past where you’d need to buy a dedicated console, portable console or PC to get into gaming.

    There aren’t less people interested in challenging games, or games that have cutting edge graphics, or games that have extreme amounts of content. There are simply MORE gamer’s. When you add a hundred+ million people into the equation, the previous models of who likes what, need to be thrown out the window. Plain and simple.

    It feels allot like the proclamations of PC death, or the death of the console. Even while 300+ million PC’s are selling a year, and 10’s of millions of consoles are sold a year. When you have more people, you have more tastes/interests. It doesn’t mean that anything is dying out, you just have new demographics to pay attention to.