Spike Chunsoft CEO, Mitsutoshi Sakurai, took part in an interview back in March to talk about Japanese games, Western games, and the success the company is finding through the difference of Western and Eastern worlds.
Publication site gamesIndustry.biz back in March attended the Game Developers Conference (GDC) and met up with Spike Chunsoft CEO Mitsutoshi Sakurai. Although the talk happened back in March, the publication site just released the interview this May.
According to the publication site, Spike Chunsoft has its sights on content that is “very Japanese” to serve niche fans in other markets. Nevertheless, Spike Chunsoft found a growing international group of gamers longing for Japanese games, which led to a U.S. subsidiary company in Long Beach, California in late 2017.
In addition to the above, Sakurai noted that he started to understand the appeal Spike Chunsoft’s games could have in the U.S. with the 2014 launch of Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc on the PS Vita.
With all of that said, though, what success followed Spike Chunsoft after 2014? Well, the interview put Sakurai on the spot and here’s what he had to say about the Danganronpa games and the West:
“NISA had published the title, and they didn’t expect it to be a popular hit, but it ended up being a very good title in the West. We also released Danganronpa 1 and 2 on the Steam platform [in 2016], which also did very successfully. Each one has sold about 200,000 downloads, and that was about two years ago. That’s when we felt we could be accepted in the West, so we started preparing to open a subsidiary in the US about a year ago.”
Speaking of growing in the West, Sakurai offered his take on AAA games and perceptional change:
“In Japan, Final Fantasy is kind of like Call of Duty or Battlefield here. It’s like the major AAA titles to them. But before, when you brought Final Fantasy here… It was popular but it was still different. It wasn’t an American [AAA] title. But I feel Japanese content is changing over time, because now Final Fantasy is viewed as a AAA title here.”
Moreover, the publication site noted that Sakurai believes Japanese publishers are always catering first and foremost to the local audience and that the Japanese market should be a foundation to serve the global market:
“I feel other companies claiming to make products for the global market may be saying that, but the bottom line is they’re focusing on selling in Japan. For instance, [recent Devil May Cry and Dead Rising games] were made by Capcom using Western studios, and they sold well in the West, but they ended up not selling well in Japan. And with Dark Souls, it’s done really well in Japan, but I don’t think it was intended to do this well in the West. It just ended up doing well. Also Final Fantasy… it still has its biggest market in Japan comparatively to the global market. So I still think the bottom line is to have that Japanese market as a foundation into serving the global market.”
The interview took a shift and started to focus on why the market has a growing taste for Japanese games/content. Sakurai responded and offered his thoughts:
“I don’t know why the market has started to grow a taste for Japanese content, but my own take on it is that the players are so used to playing AAA big budget titles, and maybe they just got bored of it. The Japanese content is fresh and unique to their mind. Perhaps that is the reason we started becoming more accepted.”
The publication site later brought up the success of Fire Pro Wrestling World — which has a “Very Positive” rating on Steam — to Sakurai, who then replied with the following information:
“That goes back to another reason to open a US subsidiary, to be able to directly talk to the American consumers and take in their feedback, and work with them in creating a good product to serve the market.”
Near the end of the of the interview, the publication site wanted to know what Sakurai thought of the PC platform. Sakurai’s thoughts lie below:
“I think the possibilities [for PC] are limitless when you look at it in a global sense, especially in Southeast Asia. The market is more receptive to PCs right now. More people have access to PCs in that market.”
Lastly, Spike Chunsoft is still focused on content that is “very Japanese,” while broadening its assortment of titles with the help of “external partnerships.”