Sengoku Basara Producer: “90% Of Visitors To Our Events Are Women”

By Ishaan . May 4, 2010 . 12:16pm


The “games for women” discussion is one that is debated rather frequently within the industry. While, within the western game development community there isn’t much of an emphasis on creating games that cater to a female audience, game developers in Japan have been producing otome games for years now.


Capcom’s historically-based Sengoku Basara, then, is a bit of an oddball franchise. While the games are in no way fine-tuned specifically to cater to female tastes, producer Hiroyuki Kobayashi reveals that the series’ most passionate audience in Japan comprises primarily of women.


“Easy to Get into Play”


In an internally-conducted corporate interview, Kobayashi, involved with some of Capcom’s biggest brands including Devil May Cry and Resident Evil, discusses Sengoku’s female audience and what draws them to it. Part of it, he says, is that the game is easy to pick up and learn.


“Although it is said that not many women play action games, Sengoku Basara is easy to get into play so that helped to attract a lot of female users,” he states. But ease of playing isn’t the only contributing factor. Building brand awareness is important, too.


“More specifically, in addition to lowering the difficulty, we produced a range of related merchandise and animated features in order to create a series people of all ages can enjoy,” he elaborated. “The result exceeded our own expectations, and through this series we were able to gain a wider user base.”


90% of Visitors are Women


Another aspect of strengthening Capcom brands, Kobayashi says, are the public events the publisher conducts for fans of its series. Putting on a grand show at these events in order to ensure fans have a good time is a top-priority. One example of this is the theatrical road tour, conducted last year. The most surprising revelation, though, is that 90% of the fans that attend Sengoku Basara events are women.


“Forty percent of the game users and more than ninety percent of visitors to our events are women,” Kobayashi shares. He goes on: “Most of male users generally play the game only. The hard core fans that visit our events are mainly women. The most prominent age group is women in their late teens and early twenties. The number of fans that are in high school and junior-high school is also increasing.”


The Psychological Hook


To sum up, the game is easy to learn, and the company behind it treats it and its fans with the utmost respect. But what captured the attention of Sengoku Basara’s female audience in the first place? The answer to that question may lie in observing Japanese society.


In the past, Kobayashi has opined that the female fascination with Sengoku Basara also results from a lack of suitably masculine male partners in real life, in light of the rise of “herbivore men” in Japan. A large number of these individuals consider themselves “gender-neutral” and have no trouble playing the role of housewife while the lady goes out to work and support the family financially. They dress fashionably, go to great lengths to maintain their sometimes feminine looks, and care more for spiritual satisfaction than a sense of accomplishment.


They’re described as not being homosexual, but at the same time, they aren’t entirely heterosexual either. This phenomenon, it would appear, combined with the ease of play and brand promotion on Capcom’s part are all a crucial part of Sengoku Basara’s popularity amongst women.


This year, Capcom plan to re-launch the Sengoku Basara franchise in overseas markets. While the series has previously been localized as a heavily-modified reincarnation named “Devil Kings,” Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes is being released as-is for the Wii and PlayStation 3 in Fall 2010.


A huge thanks to Chris Taran for pointing us in the direction of the “herbivore men” phenomenon!

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  • Women that play video games are smexy, preiod.

  • urbanscholar

    So in other words ladies of Japan like their male heroes passionate and near fatalistic and strong as hell? Well to that ladies I say you have good taste. I’m really looking forward to the western release of basara 3.

  • Actually I know a lot of girls that like the whole Sengoku Basara series and for some strange reason I see the reason why. I am getting it when it comes out

  • I should go to Japan and get all the girls! Thanks herbivore men!

  • cowcow

    a lack of suitably masculine male partners in real life, in light of the rise of “herbivore men” in Japan.”

    – This is directly resulted by the death of Segata Sanshiro at the turn of the century.

    • Hraesvelgr

      I laughed pretty hard.

  • I’ll take this as a sign that Japan’s women are their country’s opposite gender counterpart to Anglo men (read: since this article gave hints that Japanese men are frigid, here in the Anglosphere, Anglo women are frigid).

  • They love it when men put their guns on.

  • 5parrowhawk

    I have this sneaking suspicion that half of those women make a hobby out of imagining scenes of the male characters boning each other, at least 20% of that half actually bother to draw said scenes, and at least 20% of that 20% sell the drawings to the rest.

    • Hraesvelgr

      And why do you say that like it’s an issue? That isn’t any different than what the male fanbase of games does.

      • 5parrowhawk

        It’s not an issue at all. I raised the point because (1) it was amusing (to me at least), (2) it’s an additional possible reason for popularity that wasn’t mentioned in the article, and (3) I think there are a lot of people out there who don’t realize that female fans do that too.

  • masuto

    You hear that Capcom? Market the game big here and you can capture the hearts of female audience.

  • Joanna

    I am disappointed Capcom.
    Did you try and make this as sexist as possible?

    1.“Easy to Get into Play”
    What because women are too stupid to play hard games? You know there is a better way to phrase this. New female fans find it easier to access these kinds of games, instead of women need easy games. Way to talk down to women who play games >_>

    2.herbivore men
    Really capcom, because men need to be savage and tell women that it’s her place to be in the kitchen and obsess with trivial things? Seriously there is more to life. Good for these guys who want to be spiritual. I don’t understand why people have to place so much damn emphasis on gender. You do know that it’s a social construct, right? >__>
    bah, I am prepared to be flamed, but I do hope siliconera has people smarter than the usual sites.

    • Sistah, hate to break the news to you:

      1. Not every girl is a camper, a Zerg rusher, let alone an arcade goer. Heck, since this is a predominantly Japanese issue, Capcom of Japan had its Sengoku Basara events open to the Japanese public. If anything, that stat it showed is OBJECTIVE (unbiased), and NOT to the point of objectification. In addition, it’s Japanese women who are making the comments, not western women.

      2. Again, since that is a Japanese issue–NOT a western one–this is a common complaint among JAPANESE women, NOT WESTERN women, about Japanese men. Besides, JAPANESE women are making it clear that THEY DON’T WANT EUNUCHS FOR MEN, which the Western media are constantly portraying Japanese men, let alone ALL Asian men, into.

      • Joanna

        1. You missed my point, I never said that. I said they could phrase it differently instead of taking the stereotypical route, of, women playing something = the game is easier to control, easier gameplay, etc. etc. Like somehow, the woman’s brain could not be able to take in the sheer volume of more difficult games (even in the same genre, that is more difficult fighting games). Again, I do understand that new players could feel overwhelmed, but they make it sound like this is due exclusively to them being female. My problem is in the way they phrase it and not with the findings of more girls/women playing these type of games. Also since when is Kobayashi a woman?! (Maybe I spend way too much time on the interwebs where this is regularly the reason put forward for ‘girls’ not playing games).

        2. The site it linked back to was TimesOnline, so I don’t know how ‘Japanese’ that is. My point it, why is foreign media even picking at this? Can’t they leave those guys alone and let them be the kinds of individuals they want to be? You don’t see news about guys doing ‘guy things’, it’s only when the guys start acting ‘girly’. I don’t see why this should be anybodies business except the people who are involved, yet it makes video game and other media commentary. Sure, even if the Japanese ladies are complaining, I don’t see why this would be any different from spouses complaining about their spouse for some other reason –i.e. girls talking about how guys are like x, when they don’t really mean it since they are just angry in the moment. I hear it all the time, yet that doesn’t get news stories going, especially foreign ones. My point was basically, whenever a group of individuals from one gender does something ‘strange’, the media and society gets up in arms, this applies to all societies. And that, I just do not like at all.

        ah, it was nice to let off that steam. Too much analyzing of the media can really make one angry.

        • Well, Joanna…

          1. My “campers, Zerg rushers, and arcade goers” line was the response I gave, due to the impression I got from your statement,

          “What because women are too stupid to play hard games? …way to talk down to women who play games >_>”

          2. It’s because the West LOVES being Captain Hero a lot, to the point it deploys outdated concepts like Mighty Whitey (check the examples @ TV Tropes), while playing up the old “Yellow Peril”, by implying to western men that they need to go East and SAVE the local women from EUNUCHS *coughAsianmencough*, which our own Anglosphere media designate to the latter.

          • Joanna

            oh, I can see why you misunderstood my first comment, I meant it in general, like all games from all genres. Not a specific type of genre that is ‘hard’ but games in certain genres are harder than others and it seemed like Kobayashi was implying that girls/women are playing this game because it’s the easy one in the genre. I myself don’t even play fighters all that much. They’re are just not my cup of tea, along with sports games and FPS.

            Yes, I do recall that is also the strategy for invading the Middle East: saving the oppressed women there. (Should I be getting political here?! I guess I already crossed that line. xD ) So if that is the reason, then I’m not surprised.

            Anyways, thanks for being civil. This is why I love Siliconera. :)

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