Ni No Kuni: Marketing magic

"You're always going to get a gamer that just wants to shoot things"

Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is a hit with the critics, but how do you make sure a fairly niche Japanese title, created in conjuction with a niche Japanese animation studio, actually sells to gamers? The man responsible for that in the UK says it's all about community.

"Our games are very fan focused the majority of the time, so working closely with the fans is important to us," explains Lee Kirton, UK marketing and PR director at Namco Bandai Partners.

" We don't just throw hundreds of thousands of pounds at TV or cinema [advertising], but we truly evaluate who are market is, how to engage with our markets effectively and how to really push word of mouth. We are very used to not marketing the 'obvious' western title so we focus heavily on PR, video content, fan engagement, community, targeted spend online, special editions, competitions, events and debates."

"We don't just throw hundreds of thousands of pounds at TV or cinema [advertising]."

Ni No Kuni goes on sale on February 1, and while Kirton agrees there's a growing market for Japanese games in the UK, there's a part of the gaming audience that's always going to fear anything that doesn't involve a gun and a military haircut.

"Many fans in Europe appreciate Japanese development, Japanese titles, and RPGs, and we are working hard to build this market in the UK."

"But you're always going to get a gamer that just wants to shoot things, and many that want to play action adventures. Ni No Kuni (putting the name and studio aside) is actually a very western RPG action-adventure which has had some amazing localisation."

"I believe it's a market that will grow over time as the industry changes, however it's always going to be tougher to convince some gamers to try something new, and that's just the way it is."

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Latest comments (6)

Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 9 years ago
Ni No Kuni is one of the best games Ive ever played, just bought it yesterday and im really enjoying the hell out of it.
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John Bye Lead Designer, Freejam9 years ago
"a niche Japanese animation studio"

Studio Ghibli won an Oscar for Spirited Away, their films are dubbed by Disney for the English speaking market, many of them are widely available on DVD in the west, and they can gross several million dollars at the US box office when they get a wide theatrical release. That's a fairly big niche. :)
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Robin Clarke Producer, AppyNation Ltd9 years ago
Indeed. You have to wonder whether any Japanese-developed games at all would escape being classed as "niche" under this definition. PES perhaps.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 9 years ago
Well, any genre is a "niche" to the people who don't play it, right? Or, "It's only an island from the water!" Whatever the hell THAT means. I blame Love & Rockets for that quote (the comic, not the band)...
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Interactive entertainment could be the future for Studio Ghibli which had the possibility of closure for various reasons. Cooperation with Level 5 looks to be the perfect fit!
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 9 years ago
The only drawback, Dr., is the development process and how long it tales to make a game like this. I'd buy anything they worked on game-wise, but I'm not sure what platforms we'd be talking about with those long cycles between projects.

Still, there IS that Nintendo DS Ni no Kuni game both Nintendo and Namco Bandai seem to have forgotten about. Perhaps the success of the PS3 game will get that localized (or now that the DS ist getting pushed aside in favor of the 3DS, some sort of "enhanced" port)...
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