- [This would normally come up in GameSetNetwork links at the end of the week, but it's worth a cross-post to discuss the interesting question raised - has the (partial) death of the hardcore Western PC market led to the vibrant life of the next-gen console market? Or is it a bit more complex than that? Answers in comments, plz!]

Talking as part of an in-depth interview on big sister site Gamasutra, feelplus' Ray Nakazato (Lost Odyssey) has been discussing Japanese publishers' 'struggle', suggesting that any Western lead on next-gen console may be down to great PC developers migrating to console - something Japan lacks.

Feelplus, which developed the Microsoft-published Xbox 360 exclusive Lost Odyssey in association with Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi, is part of new Japanese publisher/developer conglomerate AQI Interactive.

AQI Interactive, which currently publishes games in Japan under that name, includes feelplus alongside Blue Dragon and Blinx developer Artoon, Drakengard creator Cavia, and recently acquired U.S. publisher/marketing firm XSeed.

In discussing the DS' and therefore first-party dominance in the Japanese market of late, Nakazato honestly states of his company's reliance on the domestic market:

"Yeah, I think Japanese publishers still struggle. I don't know how struggling they are, but AQI is struggling, so we need to look at the overseas market more seriously."

Going into more detail on why the higher-end, most technically advanced games are no longer coming out of the Japanese market, Nakazato proffers the following theory:

"I think one big factor is that in Western gaming market there is a long history of PC games. A long and big market with the PC games, so I think there are a lot of great developers and creators who kept making PC games.

I think [for] this generation of consoles, finally those people started showing up in the console game arena... that's one big reason that Japan also seems to be a little behind in that arena."

Finally, discussing the casual market for DS and Wii, both in Japan and outside, Nakazato notes that most of the titles AQI is working on are story-based and slightly bigger-budget, commenting:

"I personally haven't studied that much for that market, but it seems like there's a lot of titles that don't sell at all, and there are a few titles that sell like a million, or two million units. Although the development cost is very small, I personally think it's a high-risk market."

You can read more about Nakazato's opinions on the Japanese and Western markets in the full Gamasutra interview, which also discusses upcoming Sakaguchi games from AQI including Away and Blue Dragon Plus.