At Creek and River, you can join Japan’s largest game development work in our in-house studio. Why we need international creative talents ?
Welcome to our site! Creek & River (C&R) is one of the largest creator agencies and creative development groups in Japan. At C&R, we introduce projects such as games to creative professionals.
Until now, C&R has been creating games mainly for the domestic market. However, going forward, we will strengthen our team of international talent in anticipation of overseas market development.
In this article we would like to discuss some of the most common topics about game development in Japan. “Do you need Japanese Language skills; Is the Japanese gaming market booming; What skills can you learn from creating games in Japan?” We will answer these questions and more. At C&R we are committed to strengthening the bridge between Japanese and international creators and we need people like you to make this happen.
Director, Member of the Board
A total of 500 creators! Tell us more about the C&R Studio
――C&Rhas one of the largest game development studios in Japan with more than 500 game creators. (Creek and River Co., Ltd. Digital Content Group-Game Development Studio- | (crdg.jp)) Why did you create such a large studio?
Aoki: We wanted to create an environment where game creators could work more vigorously, and we established a studio to demonstrate that C&R is a committed to support game development. I have been involved since the start of the studio.
Hashimoto: You were a game developer yourself in the past, weren’t you
Aoki: That’s right. I was involved in game development during the heyday of browser games. From that time on, I thought that we needed an environment where creators could play an active role.
C&R’s goal is to “improve the lifetime value of creators.” In order to achieve this, we are naturally strengthening our high level creative production capabilities, supplying work to creators, strengthening the development of creators, and creating a system that can return profits to creators.
――In some foreign countries, wage disparity among workers is a problem. In Japan as well, there are concerns about the wage gap between creators, and it is not a small problem. What specific initiatives is C&R, which advocates “improving the lifetime value of creators,” implementing?
Aoki: There are three. The first is to get a large production request from home and abroad, or to create a project. I think business sense and financial strength are also important.
The second is to create a mechanism that can return profits to creators. The third is to develop creators who can play an active role both in Japan and overseas. These are goals that C&R is currently focusing on.
Hashimoto: When I talk to overseas creators, they say being involved in game development in Japan often looks attractive, including compensation. Furthermore, Japan is known to have relatively stable employment.
Even if you have the same skillset, the amount of compensation will differ depending on where you work, so increasing the mobility of creators will lead to increasing their value.
――Is there a possibility that you can change jobs to another game company in Japan by making use of your development experience at C&R’s studio?
Aoki: We also operate as a staffing company, so please look to us to support you for a new job in Japan. At first, it will be useful acclimating to life in Japan and improving your skills at C&R’s studio.
C&R creators are often seconded to other game companies to advance their careers. By being seconded to another company, you will be able to acquire skills, experience, and personal connections that you cannot acquire with C&R alone. And, if the creator wants to, they can become employees at that company.
In fact, there are many creators who have gone from C&R to become employees of major game companies.
There are more than 30 international creators in our studio.
――What kind of international creators are on the team now?
Aoki: Approximately 40 out of 500 creators are international. They come from more than 15 countries
――Is it necessary to speak Japanese well to be successful in C&R’s Studio?
Aoki: It depends on the type of job, but Japanese ability is not always a necessary skill. For programmers, technical artists, and CG designers, speaking English alone will not hinder your work. On the other hand, planners and directors need to have some language skills because they need to communicate in Japanese.
Also we have a language lesson that trains creators’ Japanese proficiency, so you can acquire Japanese proficiency while working at C&R.
――C&R has various other divisions such as video development, web design, fashion, and architecture as well as game development. Do you collaborate with other departments to create content?
Aoki: Up to now there not that many cases yet. However, I would like to increase our collaboration and create a team that transcends the industry. We are a diverse group with creators from various industries, so that kind of collaboration can be achieved.
It would be interesting to be able to create games by combining the skills of creators of various genres!
What are the advantages of having a team of international creators?
――Why are you focusing on hiring overseas creators?
Aoki: With the help of overseas creators, I would like to make Japanese games more competitive in overseas markets. Currently, there are not many Japanese games and apps that are hit in the world. Unfortunately, we didn’t pay much attention to the overseas market because the domestic market in Japan is relatively large.
Of course, the number of titles aimed at overseas has increased overtime, but they still represent a minority.
From now on, I would like to make games that are more globally accepted, and I think that the number of Japanese game companies that think the same way will increase in the future. I think that Japanese games will be accepted in the world as various creators are involved in making games regardless of nationality and gender.
Hashimoto: The programming skills of overseas creators are very good. In the past, Japanese creators sometimes were careful about working with overseas creators, but that is a thing of the past. Now we are no longer concerned about working with people from overseas.
――Do you welcome creators who have no experience in game development?
Aoki: Some creators are anxious because they have no experience in the game industry. I would like them to take on the challenge in a positive light.
――What kind of skills can overseas creators acquire by working in the Japanese game industry?
Aoki: I think that they gain the ability to create “the most interesting content created from the user’s perspective”. Overseas there are many games that put the first priority on selling. On the other hand, when making games in Japan, I think that you will acquire the basic idea that “first of all, let users enjoy it” and “as a result of achieving that, the game will sell”. Separate from that, there is a tendency for IP to be used a lot.
Hashimoto: When talking to overseas creators, I often hear that “Japanese games have a good view of the world.” Japanese games have solid scenarios, so we’ll keep playing throughout the series. It’s a Japanese way of making games. This style has its roots in the culture of anime and manga, which has always been a strength of Japan, such as One Piece and Naruto.
Japanese games have a wonderful world view and scenarios
――Please tell us the latest information about the Japanese game market.
Aoki: The prospects of each game company has been divided. Game companies with well-known hits continue to perform well. In general, the consumer game industry is doing well, but browser games and app games tend to be struggling, or the winners and losers tend to be very clear.
In addition, due to the influence of COVID-19, remote work has become widespread, and the development management system has become more important. There is a difference between companies that have control of development while using remote work and those that do not. Currently, at C&R, 70% of the total has shifted to remote work. Remote work from overseas is also possible.
The biggest change is that major overseas publishers have entered the Japanese market. About 30% of the top 100 popular apps in Japan are made up of overseas games. Therefore, we also thought that Japanese games should be made for overseas markets. It is an obvious opportunity.
Hashimoto: By the way, Mr. Aoki, how do you think the contents of games are positioned compared to overall Japanese content (manga & movies)?
Aoki: I think the content of games will become more comprehensive in their art. The impression is that it is an interactive movie. From now on, I think that the number of videos and games will increase. It may be the real of XR and will be one of the major sources of entertainment content of the future.
Also, the younger generation is using games as a communication tool, and games are already a part of their lives, so the difference between the game world and the real world may disappear.
――What do you think is the appeal of Japanese games?
Aoki: The biggest feature of Japanese games is that they have a wonderful story based on a detailed world view. RPGs are especially popular in Japanese games, but I think that’s because they have a solid view of the world. There is also manga in the background of Japanese content culture, and I feel that the world view setting and scenario aspects are particularly strong.
Hashimoto: I think the major factor is the culture of weekly manga. Furthermore, manga is mixed into anime and movies, so I think that this kind of ecosystem provides a place for content development.
In addition, the Japanese game market is said to be one of the three major markets in the world (America, China, and Japan), so many creators find it exciting to compete in one of the world’s top 3 game markets.
Aoki: However, I don’t think there is a clear answer as to what makes Japanese games so attractive and accepted by the world. From now on, I would like to cooperate with overseas creators to better understand the reasons.
――Thank you for your time and insights today.