Why Aren't There Too Many Indie Studios In Japan?
One man has the answer.
Keiji Inafune might have the answer. For those that don't recall, the man left Capcom two years ago and went on to form a number of companies/studios. In an interview with Gamasutra, he talked about Japanese and Western developers. Eventually he hit on why we don't see too many independent developers over in Japan, but we do in the west.
Even what independent developers there are here essentially follow orders from their client publishers. There really aren't a lot of rights given to them. As a result, you don't really see companies on the orders of hundreds of employees that try to make a name for themselves via making good products.
With outfits in the US and Europe, it's more of a case of the developer really trying to make their own successes and reap the rewards -- that's why you see inspired people entering developers instead of publishers, and that's why it's easier for developers to build up people pretty quickly. Meanwhile, in Japan, the idea's often that you enter a developer because you couldn't join a publisher, so it's harder for them to attract people.
He goes on to reveal that it's this culture that drove him to leave Capcom in the first place. He wants to help change it, because he sees independent development as a gateway to competing better globally. He wants to create a company where people feel rewarded for making remarkable products...and there's definitely creatives in Japan who aren't being noticed for their talent due to the current way things are structured. Will he be succesful in these aspirations? Who knows. For now we can look forward to this title Soul Sacrifice for the Vita sometime in the future.