Japan’s extremely harsh video game reviews may be the reason it gets some new releases last

By Scott Wilson, RocketNews24

A few months back when Pokemon GO was first released to the world, it was initially only available in the U.S. It took over two weeks for Japan to finally get its release of the game, after it had already been made available in many other countries and after it was already a huge hit.

The reasons for the delay given were mostly nonexistent, with some vague references to “servers,” but no real details were made available.

But now there is a theory going around that the delayed release in Japan may have been planned and intentional due to Japan being much harsher than other countries when it comes to video game reviews.

The theory was first posed by Japanese Twitter user and game blogger @yokotaro who had this to say: “I heard this idea and I think I agree with it. Japanese gamers tend to give games the lowest rating possible if there’s just something small they don’t like about it. This brings down the score of the game and poorly influences sales in other countries. But if the ratings are high in other countries, then the ratings in Japan also go up. So that’s why overseas releases are made a priority.”

Now you might be thinking that giving games the lowest rating because of small things is something gamers all over the world have in common. Doesn’t every country have snot-dripping, angst-ridden gamers who gleefully type away how much they hate a game because a few pixels were out of place?

While there are certainly excessively harsh reviewers all over the world, comparing Amazon reviews between countries shows that there is a significantly higher percent of them in Japan. Just take a look at the chart at leftr comparing reviews for "Final Fantasy XV" and "Pokemon Sun."

Here’s how Japanese netizens reacted to this theory:

“It’s true. I see so many mobile games with Japanese reviews like ‘It’s not free 1 star’ or ‘It’s boring 1 star.'” “Well that explains Pokemon GO’s delayed release. They wanted other countries to make it a hit first before releasing it to cynical Japan.” “That was actually probably a smart move. It probably would’ve never been as popular if it’d been released in Japan first.” “Maybe Japanese people and foreigners are looking for different things in games?” “It’s a vicious cycle of: Game is released first overseas > “Hey that’s a Japanese game! Release it here first!” > Japanese people leave bad reviews > Repeat.” “So basically you can’t trust low Japanese reviews or high foreign reviews. You have to decide for yourself.”

I think that last comment hits the nail on the head. While reading reviews can be helpful, there’s no better way to decide if you like something than trying it out for yourself.

Although to be fair, there are some differences between what different countries are willing to spend money on in mobile games, so maybe there is something else going on here that’s worth looking into.

Source: Twitter/@yokotaro via My Game News Flash

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I'm pretty sure the higher number of negative reviews in Japan is simply down to the fact that people here seem to be more susceptible to buying/trying things which are promoted on TV, magazines, rankings etc. The review samples in Japan include more people who didn't know anything about the product before buying, except that it's the latest trend. Most 'foreigners' are probably just better at avoiding things which they know they probably won't like, regardless of how popular they might be.

The reason I haven't left a nasty 1-star review on the Pokemon game is simply because I haven't even downloaded it (and never will). I know it sucks without even needing to try it. How's that for harsh? It's definitely not because I'm more easily impressed or have radically different tastes as a foreigner.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Another possible reason why is because of the shrinkage of the market. Aka. Japan has less kids born every year than year before. There are less kids now being born than in kids born in the 1980's/1990's.

Back when the economy was actually stable. Today, It's a different story.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Alright, let's think this through:

In nearly every medium of entertainment, international releases come out in Japan much later than anywhere else. It goes beyond entertainment even, most products, services, and medicines come out later in Japan than elsewhere in the world. But we are to believe that's just a coincidence and the real reason Japanese games come out late is an elaborate scheme by international game companies to punish Japanese people for the kinds of reviews that only the completely uninformed segment of the gaming community ever uses to make purchasing decisions anyway.

Looks like another foreign product has finally made it to Japan after an earlier debut everywhere else - gamer conspiracy theories passed off as facts because the Internet.

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Do other countries even pay attention to how Japanese gamers rate games?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

You all should look at the reviews for Final Fantasy 15. It was generally well regarded in the west with a Meta score of 82. Not bad at all. Oddly Japanese magazine Famitsu hasn't released its review yet but if you check out Amazon Japan the reviews are BAD! Maybe half life the game, the other half absolutely hated and gave it 1 or 2 stars. Much worse than the reviews on Amazon USA.

A lot of it has to do with the shrinking console market in Japan. Less and less gamers are buying consoles and console games. So game makers are slowly making the shift to a more western style approach of games. MGS has always sold better in the west. FF15 is widely lauded as being more of an action oriented western style RPG. Thats fine, there are still PLENTY of hardcore very Japanese style games for the J-gamers to enjoy.

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Robert DykesDEC. 23, 2016 - 11:23AM JST Oddly Japanese magazine Famitsu hasn't released its review yet but if you check out Amazon Japan the reviews are BAD!

Okay, I know I'm too old to be down with "them dank memes", but I'm fairly sure no one but your grandmother buys games based on Amazon reviews. But let's leave that aside for the moment.

The fact that you have to go to Amazon Japan to see the effect of Japanese customer reviews should show how hogwash this conspiracy theory is. If there was no other reason forcing game companies to delay releases in Japan, it would literally provide them zero benefit because Japan's review scene has zero impact on other countries' reviews, as you yourself just showed us. I just checked it myself. FFXV for Playstation on Amazon US is about 4.5 stars, on Amazon JP is about 2 stars. Customers in one country's store don't affect reviews in other countries' stores.

Oh, and now I have a Final Fantasy browse on my Amazon history that's going to screw up all my recommended product lists for months. So thanks for that.

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The user "reviews" on amazon is a long time joke in both Japan and the US, mostly trolls or just people venting off their buyer remorse. I doubt any video game publishers would care about them.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Haha this isn't rocket science even though this is in rocket news LOL!

Even though I don't play video games this answer is obvious, the delay in releasing in Japan was simply to build hype, so when it was released lots of people would buy without thinking too much whether they really wanted to buy the thing or not!

Now whether the results bear that out I don't know or care but clearly the company thought it BEST to delay the release here hoping it would boost sales, nothing more, nothing less

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Japanese Amazon users rate my book very highly with all giving 5 stars (except one who gave a 4). I think it depends on what their expectations for the product/game are.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Japanese Twitter user and game blogger @yokotaro

Is this Taro Yokoo himself? He is a video game producer (famous for his weird and creepy stuff) and is a lot more than just a Twitterer or blogger. Can't say I agree with his theory, though. I think it's much more likely that Japan-side marketers are reducing risk by gauging foreign opinions and perhaps (with foreign-made games, as they are well-known for with foreign movies) waiting for certain licensing costs to drop so that they can save money.

@katsu78, you can remove items from your browsing history on Amazon, so go ahead and remove FFXV if you don't want Amazon recommending other video games to you all the time from now on.

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Well...I did see a long winded one star review on Amazon Japan for an automatic pet feeder...from someone who didn't own the product...but thought it was absolutely shameful that someone who owned a pet would ever think of purchasing one....So there's that.

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It's a more saturated market here TBH, so reviews are harsh, but that's a good sign. Some of the reviews you see in the US are so fraudulent it should be a crime. Not to mention the game review blogs and websites, which are paid by the damn game companies themselves. At least here it's honest. A better indicator of game reviews would be Steam reviews as you can see exactly how long each user has played the actual game, as opposed to making a farcical best guess

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