Discussing Natsume’s Development Process

By Spencer . August 25, 2010 . 6:37pm


We talked a little to Natsume about their development process and how they go about picking development talent to work on various projects across their portfolio. We also got to find out what Natsume Japan has been up to.


So, when you’re funding games like Gabrielle’s Ghostly Groove, are you guys developing these at Natsume USA and sending the concepts out or do people come to you and pitch?


VP of Operations, Graham Markay: [Natsume CEO] Hiro’s been doing this for fifteen years, and in doing so, kind of going back to Natsume’s philosophy, he’s established business connections and friendships. People that he dealt with fifteen years ago, he’s still friends with today.


And this industry is so small, and everyone moves around. So, before you know it, when you’re dealing with one or two or three developers, and people move around, all of a sudden, it turns to six, seven, eight, nine, ten developers.


We obviously have Natsume of Japan who we do games with. We have other companies that we license from. Then we have other development companies that we know very well that we bring our brands to, to kind of give our thoughts and ideas. But they’re the experts, so they give us it back, and we move forward with that. A good example is Reel Fishing.


Speaking of Natsume Japan, what are they up to now days because Rocket Company is publishing Medabots, which Natsume Japan used to do.


Graham: [Laughs] Weird question, because Hiro just actually showed us those games.


Oh. Yeah, I saw Rocket Company just released those…and I felt like you would maybe localize those.


Well, Natsume’s got various different offices in Japan and those offices kinda have…you know, some of it’s Pachinko. Some of it is international development. Natsume Osaka — [for] THQ, Activision — has done games for them in the past.


The Nagoya office does a lot for Namco Bandai, and the Tokyo office is mainly just the head office. So, they’re trying all different things, you know…doing what they can. And we’ve worked together on projects in the past, and I’m sure we’ll work on more projects in the future.


So, then the Nagoya studio, the one that used to release those action style games in the past…when you’re funding new I.P. or thinking about that, do you go back to the Nagoya studio and say, “Hey, we want to make a new Shadow of the Ninja,” for instance?


Going back to other developers we know, you would find out whose expertise…where it lies…you know, past engines. So if we wanted a ninja game, you’d probably track down the guys that…if you’re looking for something Shadow of the Ninja…you’d look for a Natsume creator that was part of Ninja Gaiden.


You try to grab who’s around and go with that. If you’re looking for a developer that’s strong in fishing, you have those, too. Everyone has expertise, so we try to home in on that and utilize that. We don’t just, all of a sudden, run up to a developer and say, “We want to make a dancing game” and they have no experience, or their experience is with racing games.

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  • You should have asked about a Shatterhand sequel!

    Natsume used to be cool. They had some hardcore games here and there, now it’s all fishing/farming. I will definitely buy Lufia II, if only out of principle, but I really wish they’d try new things once in a while. I for one have gotten sick of Harvest Moon as far back as the 64 game. Guess their internal mantra is “If it ain’t broken… don’t work on Abadox 2!”

    Any truth to the “Chulip Special Edition for Wii” rumours?

    • EnkiduGil

      I couldn’t agree more. A lot of people don’t seem to remember, but before they hit it big with Harvest Moon, Natsume put out some seriously awesome NES action titles. Did you happen to play Shadow of the Ninja?

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