Namco Bandai Shift New Game Development Back To Japan

By Ishaan . December 15, 2010 . 10:46am

In light of half their recent software being unprofitable, Namco Bandai are taking a leaf out of Capcom’s book and shifting development of new games back to their development studios in Japan, according to a report at Bloomberg.


“We found the quality and development speed of titles made for us by the overseas studios to be lacking,” president, Shukuo Ishikawa, said during an interview yesterday. “Foreign studios can still propose and develop games, but our Japanese staff will control the process more closely.”


Currently, a 70% of Namco’s revenue comes from Japan, which perhaps isn’t very surprising, considering some of the licenses they can work with. Bloomberg’s report states that the decision to shift development back to domestic studios was made in light of several of Namco’s games failing to reach the 1 million sales mark in overseas territories.


Clash of the Titans, for instance, has sold 250,000 units as of October 31st — well below the desired 700,000. Dead to Rights: Retribution — also forecast for 700k units — sold only 350,000. Following their performance, Namco Bandai also lowered their forecast on games such as Splatterhouse and Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom.


In 2008, Namco Bandai established their “Surge” label, under which they intended to develop games in-house that were targeted at a western audience. The Surge label saw its first game in the form of Afro Samurai, developed at a studio at Santa Clara, CA. As of 2010, it remains the only game produced under the Surge brand.


By 2016, however, Namco Bandai hope to have overseas sales account for half of their global revenue. Earlier today, the company pulled the curtain back on their latest Tales of RPG, Tales of Xillia, for the PlayStation 3.

  • More Tales? RM3 ‘ktybye~

  • Guest

    Finally they get it, having mediocre western developers making mediocre games to “appeal” to the west is an awful idea. Let’s hope Capcom and Konami get this memo too.

  • Over half of their revenue in 6 years?! Wow thats quite, bullish!

    The only way I can see that happening is if they continue to chug out quality Naruto and DBZ games, and localize some of those licenses they keep in Japan.

    I would so totally love more than one Naruto game a year, which would be simply, fantastic! I just cant get enough of that epically awesomely phenomenal world.

    Oh maybe they will do HD ports of their old Tales games, I would love to play Abyss and Legendia and Phantasia.

    • AdamBoy64

      I’m sure I’m alone in this… but Tales games (like those you’ve mentioend) like Symphonia.. retaining the original storyline and using the gameplay of the newer games.

      I can’t go back to Symphonia after playing Vesperia – the graphics make me want to bash my head against a wall until I pass out. But I much prefer the storyline.

      • Extra_Life

        I’m sure you’re not alone, but personally I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Phantasia to Vesperia each and every time I’ve replayed them (at least four times each). The only exception to this is Legendia for me, I just can’t stand the battle system…

  • malek86

    Wasn’t Majin developed by Game Republic?

    I don’t think this has much to do with the games being developed by western studios or not. It’s more a matter of Bamco not knowing how to sell them.

    • M’iau M’iaut

      Yes, but even cut back as they were, those listed expectations regardless of however they were sold are plain silly. That needs to be put into any discussion as well.

      A game released months after a movie that did not meet expectations itself? Where in the heck is any driver of interest for it? Dead to Rights was a one trick pony with that stupid dog, that even when it had it’s day was a targeted audience title, not anything that would approach mass appeal.

      The only one on that list I want to feel bad about is Majin, because yes that one needed a better approach. Linking that in concept with any Team Ico title, especially with the interest in the upcoming one should have been a no brainer. It also likely would have appealed to a Zelda fan or those playing the action survival horror genre.

      • Enslaved is the only title I feel for here.

      • I think the movie itself exceeded expectations as it is still in the Top 10 grossing movies of the year (or nearly triple its budget) and enough for them to commit to make it a trilogy series.

        • And right there is proof that what is popular is not always good. In fact, it’s proof that the majority of the public are morons.

      • malek86

        I tried the Majin demo, I thought it was good enough. Not excellent, but the art direction was nice. I’ll have to remember about it next time I feel like buying something.

    • OneOkami

      Yeah, I will say their marketing campaigns for most of those titles mentioned (in addition to Enslaved)…if you could even call them marketing campaigns, were pretty lackluster.

    • landlock

      Yes so was Clash Of The Titans. I guess they meant games aimed at a western audience.

    • neo_firenze

      You’re right – Game Republic developed Majin. And although it’s a western license, Clash of the Titans was also Game Republic.

      I think it’s more Namco not knowing how to market their games in western markets, regardless of where they were developed. The games intended to “appeal to the west” flop, they don’t know what to do with Tales, etc.

      They’re just lucky that stuff like Tekken and Ace Combat sells itself. No need to focus on Japan or the west, just focus on making good games and hyping up the high points of the game quality.

  • Namco give us some tales and everyone will be happy x)

  • That’s what happens, Namco. That’s what happens. Now make your overseas fans happy already.

  • If that means they’ll greenlight more games other than character focused action games (like they did at the beginning of this console generation) I’m all for it.

  • great I am so happy all there western games flopped pretty much like capcom

    Maybe now they will give us the games we want

    • Got Front Mission Evolved on Steam (as a gift thanks god)…and yeah… they should start giving us the games we want instead of letting these “western games” being developed.

      • godmars

        Or better yet, try to recruit Western game makers with anime backgrounds who will try to adapt or at least give ideas.

        • Guest

          Those exist??

        • They said western devlopers can still propose ideas, so that’s already happening.

    • Problem is when you say “games we want”… Well that would still probably only get around the sales they’ve acheived with their western flops. So right now they are stuck in a rock and hard place.

      Clash of the Titans could have done well but alas it didn’t and Dead to Rights series was never a big seller in the first place, with the subsequent sequels undoing any goodwill the first game did. Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom was never going to be a big seller ( because a) too niche and b) released near christmas) and Splatterhouse had no business being remade (the original was never good in the first place gameplaywise)

    • Yusaku_Matsuda70s

      I want to say serves them right too, but because they poured so much cash into these games and came out wounded, the budget and production value of their future games are likely going to suffer.

      The good thing is now they’re forced to manage their resources much more tightly, to make more with less (since they still want to expand into the west and recover from those expensive flukes).

    • Really? Because Majin, Splatterhouse, and Enslaved ARE the games I want.

      • If only there were 350K more people that wanted to those games too, then they wouldnt need to shift new game development

        • Can’t help it if people are so closed to Japanese published games as the first response to me is to western published/made games.

      • Then, by all means, don’t let us commenting on the article take you away from your intellectually stimulating Western crap.

        • And what’s wrong with Majin and Enslaved? (Sure as hell can’t defend Splatterhouse…). I would think they are different from the usual “western stuff” you get.

          I get the feeling that you don’t like western games in general. Could be wrong though.

          I’d have to agree with paul somewhat in that games like Majin and Enslaved are games we should support – regardless of where they are developed – because they offered something different and were entertaining.

          • Hraesvelgr

            Unfortunately, a lot of people here seem to hate western games solely because they are western games…

          • It certainly is beginning to seem that way to me…..

        • Because we ALL know that GLORIOUS Japanese games are riveting and impressive on all account, right? *cough* every Final Fantasy after 9, sex games, Resident Evil post 3, and too many more to name *cough*. How about instead of having your head up Japan’s ass, be a little bit more open minded and enjoy GAMES, not just game from certain areas.

  • Is Xillia more likely to be localized because of this?

    By the way, they made that atrocious Clash of the Titans? Wtf were they thinking?

    • Maybe, Namco Bandai seems to be suffering a crisis and now should just localize everything to see what people outside of Japan would be interested in.

      Because clearly, people are not interested in movie-property based games anymore. I dont know about Enslaved, I guess they just overhypped it too much, and Maijin just looked weird.

      • Enslaved was actually pretty cool. Kudos there, and a shame about the sales.

        Fans have spoken, they clearly want Tales… and some Tales-hardcore-fanboys are probably (and ironically) willing to boycott the company till more Tales are announced.

      • Yusaku_Matsuda70s

        While localization costs would run them a bit high, it would be nowhere as expensive as developing full “western” games that flop. So yes, localizing a wide range of games to see what hits is a great idea for them right now. You never know, as Atlus didn’t with Demon’s Souls. Well said.

      • I didn’t know when Majin would be released, the ensalved demo felt TOO MUCH like a movie. It was like I wasn’t even playing the game, and Clash of the Titans is one of the worst games I’ve ‘played’ this generation.

        Anyways, I agree. Although, IF they do start localizing, the boycotts and hardcore Tales fans should stop talking and put their money with their mouth is.

        • I know I’d certainly pre-order any Tales PS3 games that were localized and I’d even stop posting complaints on here about Namco all the time.

          • epy

            You and me both. I would buy it full price, which I NEVER do this generation as I find the 59.99 dollar price tag ridiculous.

          • Extra_Life

            Hell, I’d buy two copies if it meant they’d do it.

  • [The Hunter] Doomrider

    I get the impression that Bandamco were trying to get into the Western market just by publishing games from genres that supposedly sell. They tried to create a God of War (Clash of the Titans), an Uncharted (Enslaved, in some aspects), they tried to have their own TPS with Dead To Rights…

    Those games don’t just sell because of their genre, they sell because they have SOME measure of quality. Gears of War sells because it’s an incredibly tight gameplay experience, Uncharted sells because, even though it does nothing new, it’s a really polished game in all aspects. God of War sells because the gameplay has some detail to it, and because of its honestly impressive setpieces.

    Some of these “Western efforts” by Bandamco just seem forgettable.

    (With the exception of Enslaved. That one seems interesting, and people have good things to say about the story and the setting)

    • OneOkami

      If you appreciated and enjoyed Heavenly Sword, you will likely feel the same way about Enslaved. I did. I think Ninja Theory did a great job with it and (like Heavenly Sword) it is very well-acted.

      • [The Hunter] Doomrider

        I was amazed at the quality of the cutscenes in Heavenly Sword. Nothing came/comes close. Uncharted does cutscenes really well, but I still think HS’ are better. I imagine Enslaved are on the same level or superior, which is a great plus. I will try it out sometime later!

    • M’iau M’iaut

      I’d wonder if BECAUSE namco’s bread and butter is DBZ, they didn’t do more to pump the Monkey King aspect of Enslaved. I can see either side of that argument from a company perspective.

    • Yusaku_Matsuda70s

      At the beginning of this gen when the 360 was big and the PS3 ignored, Namco put all their eggs in one HD basket as well. Except that time, they tried to sell the masses the 6-8th sequels of the same stuff they’ve been milking since the PS2 or earlier (Katamari, Ridge Racer, Ace Combat) and JRPGs (Sonata, Vesperia) that were 360 exclusive only, at the height of the Halo/Gears shooter wave. So people didn’t care.

      Of course, that failed, so a year so later they tried to move some of those games over to the PS3, but by that point it was too late and nobody wanted sloppy seconds when there were fresh new games coming out. In those times they relied on the heavies like Naruto and Tekken.

      So that’s where they got the idea that they should follow the trends and do some new “western” IP instead of milking their old stuff, bringing them to where they are now. But you’re right, a lot of those efforts were sloppy.

      I think they’re seriously at a loss for what to do, but that might be for the best and force them to do some serious think through.

      • [The Hunter] Doomrider

        Yeah, you summed it up well. Their current situation is the result of lots of (bad) decisions made during this generation. But it just seems surreal that a company full of intelligent people (I mean, they have to be) doesn’t know what do. The results say that’s the reality, though… Is the Western market such a challenge for some Japanese publishers/developers?

        This decision is certainly for the best. Let’s see what comes out of it.

        • Yusaku_Matsuda70s

          I think it’s a challenge because Japanese developers have really not taken note of their western audiences and western tastes until now, when western gaming is blooming and killing their sales. They’ve always made games with the Japanese in mind, and it sold worldwide regardless.

      • malek86

        One thing I don’t understand about japanese companies: for some reason, this generation most of them started thinking thayt they needed to “westernize” themselves to have bigger sales.

        Now, all complaints aside – I don’t want to hear about that – my question is simply… why was it necessary? I thought their games were selling ok by themselves. Why not just keep on doing what they were doing the last generation? It seemed to work well enough.

        This whole “westernization” debacle has been mostly a failure for japanese developers, and to be honest, it’s not like they can blame it on the gamers. People buy what they feel like buying, and if they couldn’t give players a compelling reason to buy, that’s only their problem.

        Not only that, but for some reason, some people here started to think that it was our fault. Like, us western gamers are somewhat to blame for these companies’ delusions. Ugh.

        • They want a piece of EA’s and Activisions pie. Maybe they want to just make more money instead of being content with how their games were selling?

          • malek86

            Yeah, but when almost every single one of them has failed, it makes you wonder if their vision wasn’t wrong in the first place. Maybe it wasn’t time yet. I’ll admit that business is never easy to predict, but you’d expect at least some of them to have seen it coming.

            Maybe they can try again next generation, with a clearer mind and a more sound strategy.

        • Yusaku_Matsuda70s

          In the case of Namco (and many others), they seemed to have lost faith in their classic franchises and design philosophies after seeing their declining sales while western shooters and action adventures climbed right on up to top millions.

          They see Gears/God of War, and think, “They’re selling so well, they must be doing something right.” Yet without knowing *exactly what* that may be, Namco tried to copy while missing the point. I think Doomrider’s initial take on it is pretty much what happened.

          They’re delusional, as you say, but they wouldn’t have known until they’ve tried. Now that they have, I can’t wait to see what they’ll do.

        • Skua

          As far as “core” games go, the Japanese market is on life support, so they’re forced to look toward overseas markets. Additionally, costs are way higher than they were last generation, so the required sales to turn a profit are also much higher.

          When your home market doesn’t want the games you make, there’s a problem. Large companies like Namco Bandai won’t be able to go on for long if things don’t change (i.e. if everyone had their way, they’d keep on making games like they did during the 16-bit and 32-bit eras. However, the market doesn’t exist in a bubble, as they may have felt at the time).

  • urbanscholar

    As as they keep their bread winners solid & appease home & market/advertise sure fire hits then they should be ok. Aside from Naruto, DBZ, & Tekken not much else to be interested in if you ask me on western shores.

    • SlashZaku

      Soul Calibur is my biggie from them but they’re entirely too focused on Tekken right now (TTT2 and TxSF). I somewhat care for the Gundam games but it’s usually the same formula with those. If they put the amount of attention/care into a Gundam game like they’ve done recently with Naruto, all would be well. I could go for another Zeonic Front or something more strategy heavy.

      • urbanscholar

        I like your thinking. I think they could really do something with Gundam vs. extreme or whatever it goes by these days.

    • Yusaku_Matsuda70s

      But banking on a few big hits is not a safe strategy. When those wear out their welcome or are suddenly surpassed by something similar but better that comes along, what will they do?

      While each product will sell less, diversifying their portfolio and covering a wide variety of tastes and genres will keep them afloat much better in the long run.

      • urbanscholar

        This is quite true however with the western flops I’m sure that was the original idea. I honestly think its many reasons to why their state of affairs is the way it is. I think they need to take some ideas from others and give it a shot.

        I read an article on gamasutra that talked about this, food for thought I think.

        • Yusaku_Matsuda70s

          Yea it’s kind of sad when they try something new and it fails miserably, regardless of whether that something new was actually good or not…

          Thanks for the article. Very insightful.

  • Really??? REALLY????? They wanted CLASH OF THE TITANS to ship 700,000 [!!] units?!?! THe movie sucked, why would anyone besides the people who DID buy it even think a MOVIE GAME based on a CRAP MOVIE would be selling a few 100k short of a MILLION???

    Unreal. Games cost like Sixty-Bucks, certainly not the money I’d want to waste on a GoW clone and a bad one at that.

    • Fonic

      Exactly. Namco’s nonsensical sales expectations strike again. A bad game based on a bad movie coming out months later is not going to sell that much.
      It is unreal that a company that has been around so long would be so out of touch with market realities.

  • Dimentionalist

    Graces F or bust namco.

  • i am hoping this means they will put more of a focus on localizing their successful japanese titles, and hopefully they fire their current marketing team, 700k sales with next to no marketing plan is outrageous

  • Barrit

    It really makes me wonder how they can have such unrealistic expectations. Either they are totally clueless, or they are spending way too much time and money on making the crappy games and it forces them to set the bar extremely high to make a profit. Talk about inefficient business. For Clash of the Titans, it is clearly the case. Most games are released very close or even before the movie it’s based on is shown at the movies, I don’t know wtf what happened with that one. It surely would have sold more regardless if it sucks or not.

    As for Enslaved. Even though I heard it has a very good story, I heard the gameplay got boring at times. The killing point was when I heard it’s about a 6 hr game and no replay value. For me, the release price of $60 bucks is too much for a 6hr experience, so I’m just waiting for the price to drop even more.

    • vadde939

      They’re both totally clueless and they spend too much time and money on crap games expecting them to sell a bazillion copies. I think someone at Namco needs to be fired for making decisions like they have been recently.

  • Darkrise

    Really, 700, 000 units for a movie game. Just wth were they thinking!? Movie games are pure garbage! I’m surprised it even sold over 50k. Well then Namco, what are you going to do now? Tales? You gotta bring something else to appease overseas fans and theres some neglect you’ve been doing recently thanks to your new approach of localizing. Namely, bring us TOV Ps3, Graces F AND Xillia.

    • Phlo

      To be fair, movie games based on popular movies usually sell really well, despite how inevitably terrible they are. For example, the combined sales of the Avatar game were over 2 million.

      Clash of the Titans was popular, but by not getting it out at the same time as the movie they sealed its fate.

  • vadde939

    I hope all of Namcos games that are ‘targeted at a western audience’ sell horribly. Give us Tales instead of this westernized crap.

    • Guest

      They don’t understand you they don’t speak English. You must fly to Japan and defeat the CEO in a Samurai battle to win his respect then maybe he’ll listen over a few rounds of Saki after work.

      • AdamBoy64

        Hilarious and fantastic comment. I know I shouldn’t post just to say that – but just ‘Liking’ it wouldn’t be enough.

      • vadde939

        If only it was that easy… XD

  • thebanditking

    My only question is what took them so long? They are a heavily Japanese company who specialize in titles that suit a Japanese development style. They have carved out a niche in the west with their Classic, arcade and RPG titles and its what they do best. I will never understand why they actually thought a movie tie in, a poorly made revival of Dead to Rights, a game from a dev team most never heard of (Ninja Theory is not exactly a household name) and Splatterhouse (which was a development nightmare)was actually going to turn things around for them. Most companies in tough economies stick to what they do best, Oh well hopefully we can go back to getting Tales games now.

    • Yusaku_Matsuda70s

      Their latest installments of classic franchises released back in 2006-2008 weren’t selling so hot. What they were doing “best” wasn’t cutting it anymore. But the thing is, and you pointed out quite clearly, they didn’t know a thing about current (changing) western tastes and western development.

      • M’iau M’iaut

        I’d keep an eye out this year for takeovers from the west rumors to start back up. It wasn’t that long ago that even Squeenix was possibly ‘in play’, if these Japanese companies are down financially, you gotta think some bright mind might jump at the opportunity. These ‘core’ IPs that everyone’s mentioning here still have some worth.

        • I thought Namco Bandai is in the Top 5 of Videogame publishers, how could they be taken over? And by Square Enix…their not exactly pulling big sales numbers in this western world either, lol.

          • M’iau M’iaut

            I’m saying that the western media conglomerates might look at a downturn in the Japanese companies as a chance to buy them up. Namco’s a tiny fish compared to some of the multimedia companies from the US and Europe. Squeenix went on its little US buying spree to decrease the chance someone bigger bought them; and they are about as diversified as any of the Japanese companies save Sony. And for companies that are looking to take over, IPs such as Final Fantasy, DBZ and ok I’ll say it Naruto are cash machines which can be rung at any time.

  • vall03

    Namco should think of their games as niche in the West, unless they can do this nothing will change…

  • neo_firenze

    I will say, Namco’s Japanese-developed lineup for 2011 and beyond is looking pretty strong. Knights Contract, Ace Combat: Assault Horizon, Tekken Tag 2, Tekken vs. SF, Tales of Xillia, Tales of Graces F (just released on PS3 this month so not a 2011 game, but still here’s hoping for localization as always)…

    I’d much rather have more of those kinds of games than stuff like Dead to Rights or Enslaved (mediocre game that made me fear for DMC way more than the Dante character design).

    Gotta say though, I kind of have a soft spot for Splatterhouse.

  • Maybe it won’t take them a god damn year to have the next God Eater localized.

    • Yusaku_Matsuda70s

      Hey! You just gave me an idea! The sequel could be called “God Damn Eater”!

  • xxx128

    Dear namco, dear capcom, the healthy sales figures of the bigger western titles has mostly no relation to the actual quality of western games. Its just that western companies understand how to market their titles better in the west.
    Japanese customers are very very picky, if western games were actually of high quality they would sell like hot cakes in japan; fact is they dont. Make your games japan and learn how to properly market/hype them in the west. Cheers.

    • malek86

      Are you implying that japanese gamers don’t buy Uncharted, Gears, Bioshock, etc. because they are not high quality?

      Come on now.

  • ThunderGod_Cid

    You know Namco….instead of developing terrible/mediocre “western” games that don’t sell… could….I don’t know….use that money to localize Tales of Graces F and Tales of Vesparia(PS3).

  • I hope that they localize these future Japanese games (*cough* Tales of Xillia *cough*) and that they’re actually more successful than their crappy Western-developed titles were.

    And then let’s hope that Capcom see this and follow suit.

  • Since there were so many ‘tales of’ pleas, let me be the .hack representative.

    Come on Bamco! We’re waiting for a .hack surprise from CC2!

  • Skua

    I don’t think the fear is irrational. The strategy is incorrect, but they definitely have problems that they don’t know how to solve.

    The Japanese market has been in decline for over a decade now (sales and development processes), so these issues didn’t crop up overnight. That they waited so long before panicking has placed them in this predicament.

  • Aiddon

    sounds about right; stuff like Dead to Rights and Enslaved were mediocre titles with nothing to offer.

  • PrinceHeir

    the only way they can regain some profit is either release tales games(maybe the new one for starters) or make another Namco X Capcom game. i want some jprg that has crossover characters too you know.

    • WHy would they do a crossover with Capcom in this age of high financial cost…I cant imagine how exactly they are going to share the profits with SF x T and T x SF…

      If they make a jRPG, then they are already faced with difficult market conditions and buyer feelings…how will one convince people to pick up say Tales of Xillia over, ME3, Skyrim, etc. IF they make something not an RPG, then they are faced with it being criticized for being a ripoff of another popular series (enslaved to Uncharted seemed like a popular comparison)

      Perhaps they should just make Tales of MMO as well as some first person shooter with large high climax action, exhaustive multiplayer options and tons of DLC. DLC can always make games more profit ^_^

      • PrinceHeir

        you do know they don’t have to do it right away right? the Street Fighter and Tekken Crossover games are surely gonna be a big hit no doubt about that. so at least they can rest assure in the future.

        i think they should just stick at what they do best instead of appealing to the west soooo much. same with capcom and square enix

      • The audiences for Tales of Xillia, Skyrim, and Mass Effect 3 are not necessarily the same people. I know if all three of those were localized, I’d definitely pick up TOX first day, and, depending on how I like ME2, maybe I’d also pick up ME3. Skyrim isn’t even on my radar. Yet, Neptunia, Disgaea 4, Ar Tonelico…all first day purchases for me.

        Sure, there are some fans who like both Western and Japanese RPG’s, but for the most part, it’s two different audiences.

        • Isnt the point of developing games for western audiences to appeal to those people?

          • Certainly isn’t working very well for Namco, is it?

  • Yeah Well you should have Gave me One Piece Unlimited Cruise you jerks! Bring Tales Of World RM 3 Over and maybe Id love you guys again though. But seriously I personally think It’s all these companies faults for westernizing them selves to begin with. It’s going from subtle to obvious with some companies. Stick with what your doing and try to get great games like the Tales Series a wider range of fans.

  • Phlo

    Why does Namco think everything has to sell a million copies to be a success? This is the same sort of thinking that led them to thinking western game development was the answer to everything in the first place. It’s not incompetent gaijin they have to blame for their problems, but their own hard-headedness.

    • I think the real question is…why does Namco think that their expectations are in anyway feasible. I think some of their expectations have been pretty lofty (or either they are misbudgeting their developmental dollars if they need to sell 700K units of a game…)

Video game stories from other sites on the web. These links leave Siliconera.

Siliconera Tests
Siliconera Videos