Namco Bandai’s Iwai Discusses Developer Partnerships And The Company’s Fan Focus

By Spencer . February 9, 2011 . 1:42pm

At Namco Bandai’s Ignite event, Carlson Choi, Vice President of Marketing, stressed the importance of community and partnerships with developers. One of the first announcements was an agreement with Demon’s Souls developer From Software to publish Dark Souls and Armored Core V overseas. After the presentation, we caught up with Choi and Makoto Iwai, Bandai Label President, to discuss their company’s strategies with external developers and community plans.




Today, Namco Bandai announced a partnership with developer From Software to publish Armored Core V and Dark Souls outside of Japan. How did this agreement come into place?


Makoto Iwai, Bandai Label President: From Software believes in their ability to make great games, but when it comes to marketing their games outside of Japan they are always looking for a great partner. They have done business with Sega in the past and this time they have been looking for cooperation [with another company]. And we’ve been looking for some opportunity because B-label (Bandai label) is always good with partnerships. Those demands met with the right timing and that’s why we came to the conclusion we would do business together.


Will the partnership extend beyond Dark Souls and Armored Core V or is it only for those two titles?


Good question. You never know. We have to prove ourselves first, right? That’s what they are looking forward to seeing, what sort of success we can bring to their titles. The current position that we agreed is let’s work hard on those two titles than our future will come up automatically if we do a great job.


For the Bandai label, Namco Bandai had a long lasting partnership with Game Republic. Knights Contract seems like its the last title among those. Are you still working with Game Republic?


Ah… it’s supposed be the end of it for now, but again it doesn’t mean we’re going to finish the relationship. Maybe, Game Republic needs time to save up energy to prepare for future projects. That’s where we are now.



What about CyberConnect2? Namco Bandai has a great relationship with the studio through .hack and the Naruto: Ultimate Ninja series. But, now Capcom is beginning to work with them. Are you going to continue to work with them?


Oh yes, of course. Our relationship has never changed. We are preparing the next Naruto. We are always working with them for the Naruto franchise and that remains the same.


Beyond the Naruto titles, are you thinking about Solatorobo


Solartorobo for the DS in Japan? I don’t think we have a plan to bring that title here, but we are always in talks with CyberConnect2 for future projects.


I know one announcement my readers are really going to be excited about is Tales. Why did Namco Bandai decide to start localizing Tales games again?


Again, as Carlson mentioned there is a strong existing fanbase. The buzz became too big to ignore, in a sense. Our company’s new theme and challenge is how to embrace community. A strong fanbase is something we can’t ignore, especially with Tales. How we can embrace those people is key.


It’s been a challenge for the JRPG in the US market. As long as they are loyal to this title, why don’t we embrace them? That’s a starting point.


And for Tales of Graces F, is it just the PlayStation 3 version or is it the Wii version as well?


We’ll see. We’re working on it. We’ll make the announcement later on.



Community, from today’s presentation, seems to be part of Namco Bandai’s new mantra with many official sites being Facebook pages. What strategies do you have to coalesce the existing communities for all of the different NBGI properties?


Good question, good question. For instance, each franchise has their own community. Like Naruto, they have their own community. You can see many existing communities with fans already communicating with each other. Our plan is to approach them and try to embrace them. It doesn’t matter if it’s official or unofficial. Fans are fans, right? How we can approach them, embrace them, and keep them up to speed where we are is our strategy.


While we’ve seen a lot of Nintendo 3DS games here, what do you think about the NGP from Sony?


Carlson Choi, Vice President of Marketing: At this point, we have a multiple platform approach, next-gen and are looking at emerging platforms. We’re definitely taking a look at that. There is a lot of opportunity and upcoming announcements we will be sharing with you in the next few months.


MI: We’re a game publisher so we are always happy to support new hardware.


Check back tomorrow for more comments from Iwai and Choi about the internal studio at Namco Bandai Games America and Enslaved.

  • you heard him! “Want Tales of? buy the game~”

    and i hope its for the PS3 x)
    or both xP

    • This is a double edged sword Namco is swinging right now. There had better be tens of thousands of fans buying their games, let alone Tales, or it’s over. No Xillia.

      – DW: G3
      – Armored Core 5
      – Tales of Graces

      COME AT ME!

      • Over 50,000 fans pressured them to localize Graces.

        • I’ll say it again

          50,000 requests /=/ number of people actually buying Tales. :)

          • They better damn well buy the game if they requested it.

    • PrinceHeir

      yes for it seems iv’e given up hope for tales, bam they announce grace F. hopefully we do get both versions as well as PS3 Vesperia.

      if there’s a dual audio that’s a plus for me :)

  • WonderSteve

    Annoying really works. Now I finally believe in the power of internet.

    It is good that they finally start listening and having a two way conversation with the fans. If they are having challenges about bringing games over, they should be more open about discussing it. Keeping the fans in the dark doesn’t help their image.

  • Well the nugget that I took from this is that they are always looking to CyberConnect 2 for Naruto, so that can only mean that there is more epically awesome Naruto to come! Simply fantastic indeed!!!!

    I hope Graces F is on PS3 though, it needs more love from Namco Bandai!

  • It’s like companies don’t want to make money. If you present gamers with games their is a good chance they will sell. A game like Solatorobo has a great chance to make some money with the currently drought of new games for the system. Instead they are just going to set on it.

    • Releasing a DS game after the imminent release of the 3DS…unless the game is just targetting kids then I do not think it is a wise move. And your phrase is more correct if it were “If you present gamers with good koala tea games, there is a good chance the games will sell.”

      • SolidusSnake

        You shouldn’t drink tea made out of koalas they are an endangered species. Al Gore is coming for you.


          “a bastardized pronunciation of “quality” that functions as an adjective. made popular on tumblr. sometimes written as koalatea or koality”

          I’m sure this what he’s doing, but…

          It’s an actual brand of tea from Austrailia.

          • SolidusSnake

            Yeah, I know, but I wanted everyone to get a mental image of Al Gore falcon punching Tuna for poaching an endangered species.

          • kylehyde

            Thanks for the pleasure mental image.

            Really thanks a lot.

      • Phoenix_Apollo

        Plenty of games get released after the successor comes out. The PS2 lived on until last year, after all. It’s hard to not expect the DS, which has sales around if not more now than the PS2, to get similar support.

    • SolidusSnake

      One of the problems with Solatorobo is that it would be very hard to dissociate it from a certain “fandom” that many people find extremely creepy and repulsive in this day and age, although 10 years ago I don’t think anyone would have flinched at that kind of character design. Just more proof that the internet truly has ruined our lives forever.

      • puchinri

        I was just thinking that too. I think Solatorobo looks fun as all hell and am mad that they don’t plan on bringing it, but I can see the potential worry about that particular fandom. At the same time, why not try and cash in on that fandom?

      • thebanditking

        What “fandom” are you referring to? Anthropomorphic characters? I do agree with you though the internet has ruined many things and gaming has changed because of it. Honestly I would prefer it if the internet was just for shopping, because when online gaming sites really took off things started to get worse. Though I blame the trigger happy youths of today (do you know how many 12 yr olds play Call of Duty? its kind of scary) for buying way too many FPS’s and not supporting other game types, of course the online multiplayer is the actual cause of that. I really miss the 16 and 32 bit days where game s like Solatorobo could have been a full console game and sold a million easy.

        • SolidusSnake

          The FPS’s they support aren’t even good. The only reason Halo blew up was because it was the first FPS a lot of people played, the campaign and multiplayer were both completely average compared to other games that had been out for awhile. Also COD got boring incredibly fast, it hasn’t even been decent since the first Modern Warfare, but people play it because you can always find a match online and because it’s so easy anyone can pick it up and play – kind of like a bike with training wheels.

          And yes, pretty much everyone on Xbox live is either a 12 year old or a cholo with the mentality of a 12 year old. Online gaming will help you realize that there truly is no hope for mankind.

          • I stopped playing online on Xbox since 2007, it just isn’t worth the stress. :/

        • Darkrise

          It’s a real shame that all they care about is pulling triggers instead of tactics or rpg’s… Even 8 year olds are playing fps games and they call any other game crap when they don’t even know any better.

          • I have this problem with my little cousin, now everytime he comes to visit me, I play RPG’s and other things with him to show him that there is more than just Jump ‘n Runs and shooter, it works quite well, he likes playing RPG’s more and more :P

          • Joanna

            I’m trying the same thing with my younger bro. He’s slowly becoming more open to RPGs, but he still prefers action shooters like Uncharted. Still progress is progress, especially when I got him to try DQIX. :D

          • You make it seem like there are truly a wealth of good games that involve tactics or rogs that provide the type of fun, social and addictive experiences that would be intriguing to people who embraced the modern warfare and halo. People are left to play these games because there just isnt much of anything else. The RPG genre barely does anything to appeal to new people, well Mass Effect did and Dragon Age…

        • malek86

          Ahahah, blaming others is so easy.

          You guys are sounding like those old PC adventure games fans who used to say “damn those new console gamers for making adventures unsuccessful”. There were a lot of them back then. Adventures were deemed unprofitable by the companies, apparently because development costs went up and the number of fans didn’t. It took a couple of failures from Lucasarts to cement the situation, same Lucasarts who went on to cancel several of those in favor of more console-driven games. Canceled projects included the much awaited sequels to Sam & Max and Full Throttle. The Tales situation was nothing compared to how people reacted to that.

          Anyway, some years later, Telltale tried again with adventures with their episodic downloadable series, and guess what! They were very successful! Thanks to the new format, those same console owners who “ruined gaming”, bought the new series and made adventures popular again. Such irony.

          So maybe it wasn’t actually the consumers’ fault like the narrow-minded fans seemed to think, but just the companies who didn’t know how to approach the new situation in a profitable way.

          It could be the same here.

  • Well seems truly no Solatorobo, but whatever never had a bad relationship with Namco Bandai and now it seems the truly try to be nicer, good work dudes, I hope the fans won’t back stab you in the near and distant future.

  • MrSirFeatherFang

    Solatorobo, I guess they totally ignored its existence, since CC2 has been most successful with Naruto… I’ve never played Tail Concerto (spiritual predecessor) but I know I will someday…

  • AQuatermain

    I hope that the attitude of Namco Bandai with Tales of Graces F to mean that there is a version for Wii. Hope is the last to die

    • there probably won’t be and if there will then it will probably be the version of graces the Japanese got for the wii

    • Hope?

      Really? No wonder he’s still alive……>_>

      • Is that an FF13 joke? 8D

  • Letiumtide

    I would suggest localizing some of the PSP games we never got for Tales games. Tales of Rebirth, Tales of Phantasia X or full voice, Tales of Destiny 2, Tales of Destiny Remake. There is so much Tales that we didn’t get that it’s mind blowing.

    • Come on, lets not get unrealistic…instead we should suggest Radiant Mythology 3 and Tales of Xillia.

      • PurpleDoom

        I don’t think it’s completely unrealistic – older games are just now getting localized (Trails In The Sky, for example) – but I definitely agree that those two are what we should be asking for as for now.

        • thebanditking

          Yes but Trials is a completely new game and is part of Falcom’s initiative to get its games known in the western markets. Namco is really odd when it comes to Tales ports, and while I would like to see the PSP releases I know its not going to happen. I would love to play Tales of Rebirth on my PSP but a while back I heard there was some kind of odd conspiracy within Namco over that particular release (never found out what though, and likely was nothing at all)

          • PurpleDoom

            Well, if we want to get technical here, Trails is a port of the original PC version. And to Americans, Destiny 2 and Rebirth would be completely new games since we didn’t get their PS2 incarnations. You’re right that it’s unlikely though.

      • Letiumtide

        I think Radiant Mythology 3 is unrealistic because we never got 2. Tales of Xillia isn’t even out yet in Japan so why would we crunch for that?

        One of the reasons why we never get the RM series localized now or any of the other spin offs is because they have so many characters that would be unfamiliar to western audiences.

        That said the best way to change that and bring Tales back into some focus would be to localize some of their older IP that has gone untouched. For instance the only version of Tales of Phantasia we ever got was for the GBA and it is considered one of the worst ports of a game ever, I think we deserved a better legitimate localization.

        More than that, with Tales of Graces being of Team Destiny it might be prudent for them to bring some of their other games into focus.

        There is nothing wrong, and there never has been, in bringing older IP to western audiences even long after the JP date. It’s happened a few times now.

        • I dont see why it matters in terms of not getting the 2nd one. Konami didnt bring us Yugioh GX Tag Force 3 but we got Tag Force 4 and 5. We didnt get Tales of Graces but we are getting Tales of Graces F…

          In the year in which the PSP2/NGP is going to debut, why would they go to bring old games on the PSP? Sure I want Legendia and Phantasia Full Voice Edition, but I cant imagine that (most of the audience who would have wanted it anyway, would have resorted to playing it in other means, or the cost of bringing it out would be too high and the profits too low)…

          • Letiumtide

            Then I suppose that says something about Tales fans in general. In which I guess perhaps Namco has been right all along in stemming the release of Tales games in the west.

            I -have- resorted to playing some of the games by other means, but that doesn’t mean that I would not buy the Namco localized version in a heartbeat. I love to support companies who care enough to bring stuff over.

            I also don’t think Tales of Graces is a good example, since we will be getting the superior version (most likely) so it only makes sense for us to get that version.

            Do I think it will happen that we will suddenly get some PSP games localized? Hell no, those chances are like a cold day in hell.

            But that doesn’t mean that I can’t voice that as a consumer when they’re talking about embracing that fan base. Right now it’s getting cheaper to work with the PSP with many older games coming stateside at bargain bin prices. I feel certain that if they released Tales games all of a sudden, they wouldn’t have too much trouble selling them, but that’s just me.

    • SolidusSnake

      One of the problems with PSP ports is that Sony of America really hates them for some reason, and won’t allow them to be localized unless they have a certain percentage of new content (iirc). That’s why we never got Breath of Fire 3. I’m not an expert on the Tales ports for PSP but that is certainly a major obstacle if Bandai-Namco is even interested in localizing them.

      • Letiumtide

        That would depened, they’ve loosened up on that an awful lot lately as we have gotten more than a few pure (or very minor changes) ports these days. Such as Valkyrie Profile, Mana Khemia and Collection Games like Gradius.

        Much of what is available from Namco-Bandai is not just ports of games, they’re enhanced with new content. Nevermind that some of these are games we never got in the first place which would negate their claim of it being a straight port.

        • SolidusSnake

          Damn I think the reply I posted got lost in the tubes.

          Anyway I wrote that I’ll have to take your word on the Tales ports since I’m no expert, but I don’t think it’s terribly unrealistic for Bamco to start localizing ports of older games if and only if Graces F becomes profitable in the US. However, I have hard time believing that these PSP games will be ported since, for all we know, the PSP2 could potentially be in stores before Graces F. Unless Bamco are really serious about bending over backwards to please fans I can’t see them releasing ports of older titles to an “obsolete” system.

    • Joanna

      I know this is unrealistic but I’d love to see all those PSP games plus the two Tales of for DS (Hearts & Innocence). I know I know, I’m dreaming, but Hearts and Innocence look really good and I’d even take them over the spin offs RM2 & 3.

  • I have been utterly impressed with everything Namco Bandai have been doing lately. Some Naruto properties aside (although CyberConnect have an incredible talent with anime-style 3D animation), there’s nothing they’ve announced recently that I’m not extremely interested in.

    Little sad that there aren’t any further Game Republic titles planned at the moment. I might be the only person genuinely excited for Knights Contract after Majin floored me.

    • malek86

      I’m quite interested in Knights Contract too, but GR is an indipendent developer, aren’t they? I guess, if they won’t be working with Namco, they will be working with someone else.

      Anyway, they just completed a game (two actually, Butouden counts too), of course there aren’t plans for another game yet. Give it time. I know they won’t end up like Sting, who hasn’t announced anything ever since they finished Blaze Union… and that was 9 months ago. Sometimes I wonder if they just silently closed doors or something.

    • neo_firenze

      I’ve been a big Game Republic fan since the original Genji, and by going on to make more great games like Folklore, Brave Story, and Majin, they will continue to keep my attention.

      Yes, I even bought Clash of the Titans and Genji: Days of the Blade. Not everything they make lives up to the high standards of their best games. But I’m still loyal to them.

      • thebanditking

        Glad to know I’m not the only GR fan here. I love their titles, the original Genji was great and Folklore was a masterpiece, especially coming relatively early in the PS3’s life cycle when everyone else was struggling with the hardware. I did not expect much from the Titans tie in and the second Genji was less then stellar but Majin makes up for that hands down.

  • amagidyne

    Referring to CyberConnect2 as a “Naruto developer” makes me sad.

    News of more Tales releases makes me happy.

    • Testsubject909

      … I’ll just do the sane thing. Pretend that never happened.

      [edit] The naruto thingy.

    • thebanditking

      Agreed but thats why Capcom obviously more business savvy and recognized CC2’s talent and is publishing Asura’s Wrath. I think Namco is way to narrow minded if they feel CC2 is only good for licensed games, but this is Namco we are talking about.

      • Unless it is CyberConnect 2’s decision to stick with Naruto, the studio seemed extremely in love with it (their collection of manga, wow, it just awesome!) IF one loves what they are doing than why branch out from it…though isnt it their only licensed series they do…

  • Testsubject909

    I’m just kind of sad the relationship here isn’t Atlus and From Software.

    They went well together, I feel… Or at least another niche focused company like XSeed…

    • Why are you sad, shouldnt you be glad that From Software is making the decision on who they want to partner with? Shouldnt we respect the wishes of the IP creator?

    • thebanditking

      Yeah its a shame because Atlus made the title known. All that promotional work and they won’t get the benefit of it being able to cash in on the “sequel”. Also I’m not sure Namco is the right publisher for this title, I mean they don’t have half the heart of Atlus and are not really known for good marketing efforts…

  • I guess Namco Bandai doesn’t want my money. I was really hoping Solatorobo would be localized here considering it was a well reviewed game and the spiritual successor to Tail Concerto. At least I could always import it since it’s coming to Europe if that doesn’t happen.

  • Everytime .hack gets mentioned to Namco, it totally gets ignored when CC2 comes up :/ How dissapointing! Is it time to go bug Capcom to get the rights to Link now?

  • thebanditking

    “Maybe, Game Republic needs time to save up energy to prepare for future projects.”

    Ouch that’s a pretty harsh statement (if taken the way I think it was meant), and bad business from my perspective. Namco did next to nothing to promote any of Game Republic’s recent titles and as always thats Namco’s fault. Majin is a fantastic title and a real breath of fresh air, especially in an industry filled with bald space marines fighting on color devoid planets.

  • Darkrise

    Well Namco has spoken Tales fans, fullfill your “promise” so we can show our niche might! That’ll hopefully bring in more Tales games like Xillia and more in the future.

  • vall03

    If they truly want to “embrace their community” then they should be committed on localizing Tales regardless of platform and whether its a port or not. If they localize Xillia and all the Tales game after it, then Id say they are redeemed for me.

  • Icon

    Namco was able to pay From more money than Atlus. Simple as that. I would’ve loved to see Dark Souls be released with Atlus’ name on the box, but all I can hope for now is Namco handles the game the right way. Promote it the right way and serves the users the right way. A lot of them will be coming off of Demon’s Souls and how Atlus responded to fans of that game.

    • Why is the publisher paying the developer? Shouldnt it be the other way around as the developer needs a publisher to handle their release?

      • malek86

        The publisher is the one who funds development, in exchange for pretty much all the money the game makes (the developer will get wages and/or royalties).

        I think that’s how it goes.

      • Icon

        The publisher is paying the developer because… that’s how it works. Unless you’re a company like Nintendo which is both a publisher and developer (not to mention a hardware manufacturer), most game developers are paid by publishers to make games. Grin was paid by Capcom to make Bionic Commando, for example.

      • landlock

        From Software develops and publishes the games in Japan. Namco Bandai pays for the license to release them in Europe/US.

  • JustaGenericUser

    >And for Tales of Graces F, is it just the PlayStation 3 version or is it the Wii version as well?
    >We’ll see. We’re working on it. We’ll make the announcement later on.

    They’re killing me with this suspense, man.

  • DarkWaterClone

    Well this sucks that NB will not bring out Solatorobo. So because they will not bring that game out I take it they will not bring out Venus & Braves too. I so wanted to play that game.

    Plus with the people making Venus & Braves wanting to make a sequel & if that is to happen I would guess NB would not bring that game out either. So why can’t NB bring out their great games. If the Seven remake really does happen & NB again chooses not to bring it out of Japan I am going to be really mad.

  • My Solatorobo……………
    Tales of Graces f makes me happy, but I need Solatorobo too. :(

  • z_merquise

    To Spencer (or anyone from Siliconera), is it okay for them to ask if they would still release an English version of OG Saga: Endless Frontier Exceed? How about the upcoming Queen’s Gate Spiral Chaos? I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who is requesting for it.

    • PrinceHeir

      yes i would like SRW Exceed to come here s well as Queens Gate. more KOS-MOS action please :)

      also do they plan on bringing the last .hack game? does cyberconnect2 plans on making more .hack games despite what they have said about link being the last?

    • landlock

      Never in a million year’s would either Queen’s Blade games get past SCEA.

      • After seeing some of the things in God of War 3 and Heavy Rain, I think it could very well make it here.

        • landlock

          Well not completely uncensored anyway, anything suggestive involving the loli characters would get the axe from the start.

  • The Solatorobo response has made me sad. This game HAS to be localized. It just has to be. CyberConnect2 made a really good game and it’s being overlooked because it doesn’t contain the name “Naruto” in the title. =

    I’m hoping that maybe since Namco Bandai has no plans that maybe another publisher will look into it. Atlus, XSEED, NISAmerica, or Aksys would all be perfect candidates. I don’t think the game would be a failure here. In fact, it could be marketed to plenty of different groups. Hell, I bet the furry fandom would eat this up and spread the word about this game’s awesomeness.

    I have the Japanese version and my only complaint is that the game is too easy. But who cares when the world, characters, and gameplay drag you in and keep you playing.

    • I bet Asura’s Wrath wont get overlooked as it doesnt have “Naruto” in the title…And of the companies you named…only one is releasing a DS game this year.

      • Either they are still looking into a DS title to release or they are waiting for the 3DS. ;A; I asked XSEED about it and the person said they are welcome to suggestions and will pass it along.

        I think CyberConnect2 wants this game localized outside Japan since the Japanese rom has translated text strings in other languages. It’s just a matter of finding a publisher. I don’t think Namco Bandai would object to someone else publishing since it isn’t a Tales game either.

  • Lol I’m going to buy like 4 copies just to support Namco.

  • Joanna

    My thoughts on the responses:

    1. I’m sad about Solatorobo and hope someone else brings it over, although I don’t blame publishers for being wary so close to the 3DS launch.

    2. The way they answered the question about Graces f, makes me think they have sent a request to the Japanese branch to see if they can get the extras from the PS3 version into the Wii version and are now waiting for a response and hence why they haven’t announced the system. Or maybe I’m just being optimistic….well either way I will be picking up Graces since I own both systems.

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