Asked to choose their favorite games of 2011, many of Japan's most prominent designers and studio heads named Western titles like Bethesda's The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Valve's Portal 2.
Their choices underscore a growing consumer acceptance of Western-developed titles in Japan -- the last year saw localized versions of L.A. Noire and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 at the top of Japanese weekly sales charts.
Skyrim also managed to garner a perfect 40/40 score from local games magazine Famitsu last year, a first for any title from the West. Like Heavy Rain in 2010, it was the most cited release in 4gamer's poll of 80 developers' favorite games last year.
The title was favored by Square Enix director/producer Naoki Yoshida (Final Fantasy XIV), Sega producer Satoshi Sakai (Phantasy Star Portable), and Level-5 CEO and president Akihiro Hino (Professor Layton).
Portal 2 was another favorite from the West, chosen by Fumito Ueda (Last Guardian), Youjiro Ogawa (Yakuza: Black Panther), and others, according to Andriasang's translated report of the 4gamer survey.
Other Western games selected multiple times by the group included Naughty Dog's Uncharted 3, Chair Entertainment's Infinity Blade II, EA DICE's Battlefield 3, and Infinity Ward/Sledgehammer Games' Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.
The most popular Japanese games were From Software's Dark Souls -- the second most named title behind Skyrim -- and Atlus Persona Team's Catherine. Mobile releases like Groove Coaster and Angry Birds were mentioned, as well.
4gamer also asked developers who they paid most attention to in 2011 -- Apple's recently-deceased co-founder Steve Jobs was the most popular answer, named by Ueda, SCE Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida, Falcom CEO Toshihiro Kondo, and others.
Tecmo veteran and Valhalla Game Studios CTO Tomonobu Itagaki (Devil's Third), responded to that question with "Myself -- in a variety of senses." He named the Modern Warfare and Battlefield series as his favorite 2011 games, too.
Many developers talked about 2012 challenges, like Ueda, who recently left Sony but is still working on The Last Guardian. He said his team hopes "to meet expectations even though with each game they taste the difficulties of creation."