Sakurai shares his thoughts on game development length
Writing in his Weekly Famitsu column in which he responds to reader-submitted questions, Super Smash Bros. creator Masahiro Sakurai discussed the difference in development length between Japanese and western studios.
He concluded that it shouldn’t really be taken into consideration as long as the project “can bring about a profit or results,” although indicated his belief that western developers “have the appearance of a stricter product schedule and organisation.”
“Whether it’s domestic or international, development speed is a case-by-case scenario, so I feel this may be a biased opinion,” Sakurai began. “I think the Yakuza team is quite fast considering the scale of their games, and some foreign games can take over five years from initial proposal to the actual product release.”
He continued, “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 organisation. 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.”