JP Kellams called attention to the low wages Japanese developers make and the lengthy crunch periods they endure.
Image Credit: PlatinumGames, Metal Gear Rising
In early October, Lead Producer at Epic Games and former Creative Producer at PlatinumGames Jean Pierre "JP" Kellams took to Twitter to share a rather lengthy thread, criticizing Western journalists for "fetishizing" the Japanese game industry and calling attention to the injustices Japanese developers have to endure on a daily basis.
Before joining Epic Games, Kellams dedicated almost a decade to the Japanese studio PlatinumGames, where he worked as both a Narrative and Creative Producer. During this time, he contributed to the creation of well-known titles like Bayonetta, Bayonetta 2, Scalebound, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, and more.
Prior to his tenure at PlatinumGames, Kellams spent two years at Capcom, also a Japanese developer, where he played a role in projects like Devil May Cry 4, GODHAND, Phoenix Wright, and Bionic Commando as a Localization/Game Writer.
Image Credit: PlatinumGames, Bayonetta 2
In the thread, Kellams called out the low wages Japanese developers make and the lengthy crunch periods they endure, saying that the excessive focus on and romanticization of the Japanese game industry feel "absolutely infuriating" to him:
"After every Tokyo Game Show, all these Western journalists run around fetishizing Japanese studios/developers like tourists with blinders on and it is absolutely infuriating. Here's some real talk: many Japanese devs make shockingly low wages and crunch for literally years," commented the author. "I got off a plane instantly making double what I made in Japan. I went from working 60+ hour weeks for 5 years on Scalebound (and sometimes more like 80-90) to working 40s. And I've never had to replace a lead in the US because they were hospitalized with stress-related illness."
The producer also noted that unless the situation changes or he gets to run the studio, he would never work in Japan again, saying that there's "too much life to live":
"I miss the food. I miss the people. I miss the beautiful country… But if anyone thinks for a second that labor practices in Japan are not atrocious even on their best day, you are buying PR and your own nostalgia for games you love," reads the statement. "I talk about going back all the time... I'm sure I will one day. And I know my exact conditions – a Western company on an ex-pat package, or I run the studio. Unless there is a major cultural change, I would never work at a Japanese company in Japan again. Too much life to live."
In a separate thready, Kellams also shared an insightful behind-the-scenes look at Japanese gamedev, telling a story about how the country's studios constantly get "raided by the labor board". You can read the full story by visiting the author's Twitter page.