Marvelous President Discusses Game Sales, Loves 2D Games

By Ishaan . July 29, 2009 . 12:38am

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Edge has a great interview up with Yasuhiro Wada, president of Marvelous. He covers some interesting ground and makes some great points, the first being about sales of MMV’s games.

 

Edge: Some of Marvelous’ latest titles had positive reviews worldwide but this did not translate into sales. What are the reasons of this? Do you think the choice of the Wii as a gamer platform is one key element?

 

Yasuhiro Wada: We are yet to gain the brand value of companies like Nintendo, Capcom or Square Enix. Even if you don’t fully understand what a title is about, because it’s branded Nintendo, Capcom or Square Enix, you feel like ok to buy and try it. A Marvelous game has yet to gain such recognition and trust from users. Now, if you consider the big but very light population of casual users, they don’t know about Marvelous at all. This population is by far the majority on the Wii. So in that sense, you could indeed think the Wii factor is working against us. But at the same time, if you consider games like Umbrella Chronicles, Biohazard 4 or a Tales Of RPG on the same Wii, you find that those games sell more than 200,000 or 300,000 copies.

 

Interestingly, Wada mentions that the general reaction from the Japanese public to the famous MMV sales blog post was “quite negative,” as they didn’t deem it appropriate behaviour for a person of his position. Sigh, Japan. Don’t worry, Wada-san — the rest of us still love you.

 

Now that we’ve gotten crappy sales talk out of the way, let’s all take a moment to cheer Wada on for his love and support of 2D games:

 

Take the example of the 2D graphics which are at the core of Muramasa. I don’t think many companies are still interested in developing such title based on high quality 2D graphics. You would find all the game using 3D graphics. But there are qualities that are unique to 2D like the level of details, colors, etc… Also, should the market be exclusively about 3D graphics, then some who are very talented in 2D would not feel the need for them to get involved in the industry. This would indeed impact on the industry’s creative ability overall.

 

That’s probably the smartest stance I’ve seen anyone take on both those subjects, and it’s a reason I’m glad publishers like Marvelous and Level-5 exist. Wada makes a great point when he says talented 2D studios need a reason to be part of the industry. For example, without Level-5, Studio Ghibli would probably not have made the move into videogames for another few years, if at all.

 

As an aside, does anyone feel Marvelous not publishing No More Heroes in the U.S. was a mistake? Sure, it’s not a game that caters to the casual audience, but given its popularity, having their name on the box certainly would have put them on the radar of more mainstream gamers who liked it.


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  • jj984jj

    Most publishers concentrating on their bottom line don’t even look at 2D titles for retail because there isn’t a huge market for them sadly. Sure, games like Odin Sphere and Wario Land: Shake It do well, but obviously weren’t destined to set any charts on fire. I think Muramasa and A Boy and his Blob will both end up the same way, with Muramasa faring better due to Ignition’s marketing.

    • http://www.younganimal.com/berserk Mr_Qoo

      Just curious here. Did Odin Sphere do well? I mean, I loved the heck out of it and I know tons of people HERE played it but even with the $39.99 US price tag, I don’t remember seeing that game move much. =( That’d be great news if it did. I really can’t wait for Muramasa and it’d be great if they re-released Princess Crown as a market place (PS3/360) game.

      • Kaoro

        I seem to remember Odin Sphere being a sort of sleeper hit. I jumped on the hype train a few weeks after it released and found many stores to be sold out. This might have just been a coincidence, but it SEEMED to me that it was selling decently for that type of game, anyway.

        Ishaan, the Ubisoft publishing of NMH is a weird situation. I feel that the game gained some popularity because of Ubisoft’s logo on the box. I don’t think the marketing budget of Marvelous (and Xseed?) would have done as much for the game. Kinda sucks, cause Ubisoft destroyed the instruction booklet ( :-/ ) and Marvelous’s name is not associated with NMH except for the gamer types like us.

        • http://www.siliconera.com/ Ishaan

          I dunno man…did Ubisoft really do anything to promote the game? And like you mentioned, they got rid of the awesome manga style manual that Japan got. It’s a little disappointing, since Ubisoft clearly appreciate the “otaku” style or “eastern” game aesthetic. Just look at Red Steel and Red Steel 2. You can even make it out from the NMH trailers, like the 30-second one where Travis opens with the “Moe~.”

          They recognize the audience but they didn’t exactly push it to them.

          Like you implied, most people that wanted No More Heroes – “our ” kind of gamer – would have picked it up regardless of who was publishing it. We’d all been following the game for months, and the only thing we were waiting for was to find out who would finally publish it.

      • http://www.siliconera.com/ Ishaan

        Haha, I’m reviving a 3 month old discussion here. Look in the “MMV lost money…” post from today. There’s Odin Sphere numbers in the comments. Thought you’d like to know.

  • malek86

    He said that brand value is important for sales. Well yeah, I guess that’s obvious.

    The problem with the Wii is that, for now, at least in Japan, few “unknown” companies have found success on it. The release of MH3 and DQX might help the Wii market grow larger than just families, but it might also not do much for smaller developers.

    Of course, that will have to be seen. But in the meantime, it’s no wonder that so many small japanese companies are moving full-time on DS and PSP development.

    I wonder if Marvelous will eventually follow that road too.

    • jarrodand

      “unknown” companies rarely find success on any platform. Like Wada says, the issue isn’t exactly Wii specific.

      • malek86

        True, but the home consoles in Japan right now seem to be underperforming, so it’s an especially dangerous area for any small developer that places their bets on them.

        • jarrodand

          The Japanense market at large is underperforming… “unknown” companies aren’t exactly flourishing on PSP or even DS either (Marvelous has had plenty of bombs on both actually). Pretty much anywhere is a risky venture at this point, they key is keeping costs low and successfully bringing out your audience.

  • http://www.siliconera.com/ Ishaan

    Here’s something I think is interesting and adds to this discussion. It wasn’t relevant to the post itself, but rather the importance of brand. A few months ago – I can’t find the exact quote – Jack Tretton said the games that did well on PSP were those from established brands.

    I think that’s the exact situation the Wii faces, and I think a lot of publishers have dropped the ball on both PSP and Wii because they aren’t willing to put big name brands on those machines. Whether it’s an ego thing or misunderstanding the market is up for discussion.

    Regardless, it’s a misstep and a mind-boggling one at that. Surely, you would think that publishers and their marketing/analysis agencies would be smart enough to realize that the key to establishing yourself on a new platform is recognized, reliable brands.

    Like Wada pointed out, Tales and Resident Evil have done extremely well on the Wii. Likewise, GTA and Final Fantasy have done great on PSP. Japanese publishers like Namco, Capcom and Square Enix seem to have picked up on this. Everyone else is still blaming the audience.

    Do note that all three of those publishers are enjoying a great deal of success on the two platforms that no one else can seem to crack.

  • None

    the Marvelous, Nintendo Wii I Know did think! sigh be must never right? :(
    PS3 and Xbox360. The Capcom and Namco!!! never not? :(
    Just BOOM! Square Enix, Capcom, Namco and Sega!!! :(

    • Saturnus

      What the heck are you trying to say?

      Isn’t Marvelous expanding some of it’s games onto different consoles? I remember a short while back they had talked about porting their Wii games to PS3/XBOX360.

      • http://www.siliconera.com/ Ishaan

        Think he’s a bot.

  • Hideo2009

    Muramasa: The Demon Blade is, Wii game ^_^;

    • http://www.siliconera.com/ Ishaan

      Great, another one. Sorry guys, we’ll be getting rid of these two soon…

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