Nippon Ichi: We never Westernise our games

The JRPG publisher underlines the need to maintain "reputation with Japanese users"

Nippon Ichi Software America president Haru Akenaga has told that as his company makes its move into direct publishing in Europe, he's firm that keeping its RPG titles culturally Japanese is important.

In an interview at this year's Tokyo Games Show Akenaga-san explained that in the localisation process he doesn't like to see the hardcore games, such as Disgaea, Westernised for fear of losing those qualities that make them good.

"No, never," he stated. "This is my policy: I always ask our developers not to change anything, and especially not to try to Westernise games.

"Once they lose their reputation with Japanese users, the game is no longer a good JRPG. We are trying to distribute JRPGs to European gamers, and that means we have to continue publishing good JRPGs. I don't want the developers to change anything."

The stance is an interesting one at a time when many publishers in Japan are finding that the declining domestic market isn't yielding enough revenues for new games, and are subsequently looking to tweak the content of games to appeal on a more culturally global basis.

The company, which has had a direct presence in the US for the past five years, has set up a presence in Europe to establish better communication with gamers in the region.

"We are Japanese," Akenaga explained. "Even though some people like our titles in Europe it's difficult to explain our philosophy, or why we're releasing those kinds of titles. I want to communicate why we are publishing these titles directly with European users.

"Also, we want to know what gamers want to add to or improve about our titles. We can get that information via licensees but it's not the same as direct comment. We want to hear input from the European users and the media, as your comments are really important. We want to hear gamers' voices directly and understand what they truly feel, instead of hearing it from a third-party."

The full interview with Haru Akenaga is available now.

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Latest comments (2)

Lance Winter Senior Game Designer, Splash Damage12 years ago
I suspect that the real need here is not Westernisation, rather, it is modernisation.

Japanese game development has created a wealth of fantastic games over the years that have sold well across the globe. The danger here is not any cultural peculiarity, but instead the complacency of keeping to these tried and tested game designs while others seek to innovate.

Capcom, Namco, and others have already moved up a gear to ensure that they have titles that are high-quality and relevant to a demanding, contemporary worldwide audience. I do hope that more will follow suit.

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Saehoon Lee Lead technical artist, Kuno Interactive12 years ago
I second to Lance about modernisation. But it is probably not just for the Japanese game industry , but to the whole game industry.
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