The State Of Ignition Entertainment

By Spencer . March 25, 2011 . 12:31pm

As stark contrast to 2009 when Ignition Entertainment published King of Fighters XII and Muramasa: The Demon Blade, Ignition had a turbulent 2010. The video game publisher closed their Florida studio and shelved two in-house titles that were in development for years. What’s going on with the niche company that dared to publish Boing! Docomodake and Lux-Pain out of Japan?


arcIgnition gets a lot of flak, but as a company Ignition took risks when it came to localizing games from Japan. I know the translations have some issues…


Shane Bettenhausen, New Business Development Director: Yeah, we were talking about that at E3 before. I agree with a lot of the concerns you have with the voices in Arc Rise [Fantasia]. I’m not happy with how it turned out and we will definitely not use that localization company for any voices in the future. I think the voices in El Shaddai are definitely better than the voices in Arc Rise Fantasia. They were done in England by a totally different team.


In terms of localization, my whole time at Ignition has been a learning process. We continue to strive to do better in the future.


That’s reasonable and I hope that’s the case! We’ve seen El Shaddai, Swarm, and there may be a PSN game [*cut*] in the future.


Has that been announced? [laughs]


What else are you doing on the localization side? Have you been talking to SNK or Marvelous?


SNK, we’re definitely still in talks with them, but nothing to announce right now. We’ve worked with them for a long time and I have a lot of friends there. And, I would definitely like to work with them again. Marvelous, on the other hand, they have kind of scaled back their Japanese game development and publishing. So, they have fewer titles, but we will continue to look at their titles.


You know me, like I love Japanese games. A game like Swarm is an original product we’re doing in here in North America. You know, last year we did Blacklight Tango Down. So, we’re going to continue to do Western style games, but I definitely am committed to bringing top quality games from Japan. You’ll see more titles being announced from Ignition, original things and also licensed pick-up things. Fingers crossed at PAX East, I think we’re going to announce a really hardcore Japanese title that people recognize and will be happy to hear coming from us. [Editor’s note: Ignition did not announce any new games at PAX East.]


Are you working with Kadokawa Games?


They’ve announced some cool stuff. We don’t have anything with them yet, but that’s the kind of developer I look at in Japan.




There are only a few developers left to partner with now.


That’s true. There are very few independent guys in Japan that don’t have a Western subsidiary, but those little guys need someone to help them. Trust me, I was just in Japan two weeks ago and the little guys I was meeting with don’t know how to succeed in the West and the Japanese market is shrinking. I think the future is to make games together for the global market. That’s what I really want to do with Japan is actually from the ground up create a game with a Japanese developer that would work everywhere.


So, something like El Shaddai?


El Shaddai is another unique thing. It was a project started in Japan by Ignition, completely funded, where they hand picked people, made a dream team, and let them make the game they wanted to make. It’s really unique, you just played it. I’m proud to get to work on a game like that where the artistry came before the product. It wasn’t born in a marketing meeting – what are the notes that gamers are looking for? Does this have all of the things that you know Call of Duty has?


This is a piece of art, really. More things like that, maybe not on the same scale as El Shaddai. El Shaddai is a really big production. I think it’s easier to get smaller games for handhelds or download that are a little more avant-garde out of Japan. My commitment to bringing cool Japanese games out is not going away and if anything I want to save the little guys in Japan. There’s a real trend away from small development.


Speaking of saving, some people are worried about Ignition. Studios were closed recently and Reich was shelved. And the Japan studio only has one title.


I’ll admit… when the US office, the office in Florida closed down, that studio as you talked about did close down. The UK development studio isn’t actually gone, but it is smaller. I’d say both of those titles you mentioned aren’t actually necessarily canceled, but the form they were taking previously isn’t there anymore. They are going to be reworked. I can’t really comment on those so much. Ignition, at the end of last year, there were decisions being made. The office I worked at in Los Angeles was actually closed, so I’m now working independently. Their main office is now in Texas, Austin, where we merged with True Games which is our sister company that makes free to play and browser based games. We’re kind of combining our resources and re-upping and rebuilding Ignition. Clearly, I think we have a big lineup coming, throughout the year and we’re going to be announcing more titles at E3.




What’s going on with the Japan studio. Do they have another title in development?


I think there will be extensions of the El Shaddai universe first, before they work on a totally different game. Clearly, the world is deep. I played through the whole game now and it left me with tons of questions. What happened a thousand years ago? What happens after this? What does this character do?


I think those guys, when I was just there, are thinking what else can we do with this world? The characters have taken off in Japan. It’s a big meme. Everyone is into it. There are character goods coming out from Bandai. I really think El Shaddai has the potential in Japan to become a big franchise with lots of games.


Check back next week for part two where we talk about Deadly Premonition and the struggling Nintendo DS market.

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  • Them touching Rodea would be a nightmare. X_X Please XSEED, grab it first!

    • Guest

      I don’t care if I sound like a dick but they’ve had their shots and blown em time and time again. This isn’t the 90’s, there is no excuse, even if the company is new, for the lack of quality in their localization. I’m glad they haven’t picked up a single game I’m interested since they ruined the Wii and DS games they picked up.

      • “This isn’t the 90’s, there is no excuse, even if the company is new, for the lack of quality in their localization.”

        XSEED is the perfect example of a small, new company being able to NOT have 90s syndrome when it comes to localization and I love them for that. Wonder what Ignition’s problem is…

  • Kudos to Ignition. Hopefully they will get better and announce lots of other great titles.
    1 sale for El Shaddai is already guarranteed ever since they announced it. Just waiting for the release date.

  • lol, you’ll get them to talk about Deadly Premonition?
    Did you ask any questions about the PS3 version?
    Shane probably declined to give reasons for why it never happened.

    We suspect SCEA didn’t want it published on their console. They have a history of that, you know.

    • Yusaku_Matsuda70s

      “Without stepping on anyone’s toes…”

      Sounds like a Sony problem alright. He went on to completely dodge/ avoid the question. I never understood their strict regulations regarding old games, 2D games, indie games and whatnot. Wonder what was the problem with DP? Maybe we’ll never know.

      • The thing is, though, that he says Ignition wouldn’t have had a problem releasing it as a download. This seems like the type of title Sony would want to be a downloadable title, so that is very odd.

        • malek86

          Perhaps that whole thing about paying for bandwidth on PSN made them change their mind.

  • Zero_Destiny

    I’ve given Ignition some crap before and I’m still sad about what happened to Lux-Pain and Arc Rise Fantasia. But I’m kinda of glad we at least got them (though XSEED was going to give us Arc Rise and that would of definitely of been better). BUT I still want to believe they can deliver. I’m glad the director’s willing to at least admit the bad engrish acting in Arc Rise. I respect him for that.

    Hearing that El Shaddai is going to have voice work done in England makes me happy. English Accents please ^_^ Don’t know why but I love hearing them (I blame Dragon Quest lol).

    But the director felt kinda condescending to me. He talked about wanting to give us more awesome Japanese games but then talked about how companies need to be “saved” and how Ignition is putting more effort into stuff like web-browser games. I get that he’s just one man and that he’s not really lying about some Japanese companies going under at a rate that personally I’m not too happy about. And I know he’s not able to bend the company to his will but I felt like he was flip-flopping on subjects. I don’t know it’s just my opinion I got from reading it.

    I do hope the fact that nothing was shown at PAX means that their was an unexpected delay in this “Japanese Game” and not that the director was flat-out lying. I’m willing to say the former as of yet but Ignition I feel you owe me for that. Please show us this “Japanese Game” some time in the near future. I don’t know about everyone else but I’d love it, if that game was Fate/Extra. I don’t know if they can get their hands on it or not but I remember hearing that they were interested. I know I would buy it from them since I really want it.

    Having bought a good couple of Ignition’s games I feel that people give them a bad rap. They completely deserve their bad rep but sometimes things seem to get carried away on the internet. If Ignition is willing to give us some better work I’m willing to buy from them, after all the more Localization companies the better for people like us. Why limit our potential providers?

    I’m hopeful but if El Shaddai ends up like Lux-Pain (make your dialogue MAKE SENSE, proper grammar is something even Sawada can master!!!! :P, less spelling errors, make the written stuff match the voiced stuff) and if it ends up like Arc Rise (Engrish dubs can never be compared to the dub in Final Fantasy XIII and only hurts people who were interested) I’ll be very upset with them.

    You guys are skating on thin ice within the niche industry. If you truly want to provide the west with an outlet of Japanese games you’re going to have to appeal to the niche industry at least a little. I’m not asking for something like re-doing all the lip-sync or giving us dual audio. Those would be nice but really just give us a product that we won’t regret buying solely base on the localization. If they can avoid the trappings people have associated them with, I’m more than willing to give them more of my money.

    • Yusaku_Matsuda70s

      “…things seem to get carried away on the internet… after all the more Localization companies the better for people like us.”

      Ain’t that the truth. :)

    • MrSirFeatherFang

      Oh NOOOOOO!
      I… was… planning to get Lux-Pain in the near future…
      I didn’t know that they didn’t do well on the translation :(
      At least I can get it in English though and maybe I can look at a guide that helps…
      (I was scrolling down the page and I saw the MAKE SENSE in bold and decided to read that and that’s all I really read, just to make it clear to anyone)

      • Zero_Destiny

        Having played and beaten Ignition’s release of Lux-Pain I can say my assessment of Lux-Pain goes a little like this:” Lux-Pain is a real SAD story in the localization department. The sentences are worded weird, there’s spelling errors, and in the parts that have voice acting, the acting doesn’t match the words written in the dialogue. It was bad. The game itself was fun but a little confusing, both because of Ignition making the translation suck and because the story was kind of complicated. I wiki some stuff here and there but I had fun with it. It is worth a buy if you really REALLY want it. But Lux-Pain comes with a stern warning. You must be able to tolerate a poor translation and pay close attention at all the terms thrown at you, so they don’t go over your head. ” Hope it helps. If you want it and are willing to deal with a poor translation and are willing to look some stuff up here and there I can guarantee you’ll end up liking it. It’s just that I can’t guarantee you’ll love it which is a shame. I’ll just rephrase what I said earlier and say that I can’t tell anyone and everyone to go out and buy it. It comes with a buyer be warned label if you ask me. Only those who know they want it and can deal with a bad translation should pick this guy up. It’s sad and if the translation was tighter I would gladly recommend it to any VN and point-in-click fan but I can’t. The translation sets it back.

    • “(I blame Dragon Quest lol).”

      Yangus’s Londerner accent in Dragon Quest VII is one of my favrouite english dubs ever.

  • Phoenix_Apollo

    Hope everything turns around for Ignition. They really deserve a break, I think. They seem to want to improve, at least.

  • Yusaku_Matsuda70s

    “…they hand picked people, made a dream team, and let them make the game they wanted to make.”

    It doesn’t get any better than that. If only every game was made that way and companies thrived without worry from taking that approach.

    Good to hear they’re still in talks with SNK. *hopes for KOFXIII*

    Thanks for the juicy interview, Spencer.

  • Icon

    I hope, with all my heart Spencer, that you asked about Deadly Premonition for the PS3. Please!!!

    • *teardrop* Sorry the PS3 version wasn’t what we talked about. We asked about a sequel and investing in Access Games.

      It seems a bit late for the PS3 version, sadly…

  • Dimentionalist

    Good to see Shane disliked how Arc Rise’s voicework turned out. Not surprising, since I seem to recall him disliking the voice change for Lloyd Irving in a ToW:RM review (gotta agree with him, Beacock is complete trash).

    Hopefully Ignition can pull themselves out of the rut they’ve dug for themselves. Wishing them luck in the future, it’d be great to see them evolve from their current state and become a reliable source of localizations down the road.

  • neo_firenze

    Seems like they would be a PERFECT company to release Malicious for PSN in North America. Independent Japanese developer (Alvion) without any western partner, same kind of game that seems to fit Ignition’s profile, definite “hardcore Japanese title”, not much voice acting to deal with. Can’t help but wonder if that might have been the unannounced PAX East title, or the [cut] PSN game Spencer mentioned…

    I think they got kind of an unfair shake for Arc Rise Fantasia. Yes, the English voice acting sucks. But you can turn it off! I didn’t need voices to make most of the RPGs I consider classics fun, and I’m fine without voices in Arc Rise. It would be nice if the game did have good VAs, but it doesn’t ruin the game to play it without voices.

    • I should probably clarify the game title that was cut out of the interview and the PAX East announcement that didn’t happen are two different things…

    • OMG Malicious would be perfect. And Shane talked about all of big guys being taken… if they’re looking for small, ALVION IS ALL OPEN

      and Malicious is an outstanding, gorgeous game. Dear lord if that isn’t the game they’re teasing, LET THEM KNOW ABOUT IT.

    • puchinri

      I hadn’t heard of Malicious before (or at least, didn’t really remember it), but it is a very cool, nice looking game. That would be ideal for them to localize.

      I’m kind of mixed with ARF. I almost didn’t get it initially because of what I heard about the voices, but when I did start it, it was kind of unbearable at first, but it wasn’t as bad as I actually thought and still playable, with or without the voices. I agree that they shouldn’t have them held against them forever (as long as they realize it was bad and promise nothing like it ever again).

      • Joanna

        hey puchinri, I’ve got a question about ARF, I see a lot of complaining about the VAs, but nothing on the actual localization. Is the localization better than their previous attempts? I can deal with bad VAs, but bad localizations can get on my nerves. I don’t really care too much about grammar and spelling if it’s a few isolated instances and I’m fine with a few weirdly worded sentences as long as the meaning is clear. What irritates me the most is sentences that don’t make sense (either because they are gibberish -i.e. White steel it ate. Higurashi episode 1 had a few of these at the end, which really took me out of the experience- or out of context -i.e. the character starts talking about something completely random for no reason.) or contradictions in the dialogue/story and what happens in game due to poor localization. Both really take me out of the story because I notice inconsistencies. Spelling and grammar, while annoying, don’t affect my ability to understand what is going on in the game albeit unless it’s really atrocious, but I thankfully haven’t come across any games that had grammar and spelling problems of such a magnitude.

        • puchinri

          That’s a good point! That’s also one of the things that concerned me initially and is what I always think of localization before my mind even skips to voices. I hear Lux-Pain was treated horribly, maybe on par with or worse than a Natsume localization (and those are nightmarish at times, no matter what anyone says). But I think ARF is actually handled well. Early on at least. I’m not too far in yet, but I think the actual dialogue and translations work well. If you’ve ever played Opoona or heard of its localization, it isn’t bad, but there’s a lot of weird changes and things that don’t make sense (or even things switched that could mess up certain choices), but I don’t see any of those in ARF so far. And actually, to me, even the voices aren’t horrible. Awkward, yes. And could have been chosen way better, but it’s not a horrid job at all.

          But after some HM titles, I will never forget how bad localization can be. x’D
          I mean, I’ve seen bad localization in anime and manga (prof. and fan), but never something so bad in a game as often in either of those.

          • Joanna

            ah, ok thanks. I think I’m going to check out Arc Rise Fantansia and maybe even Lux-Pain if I can find it cheap.

            Yeah I usually don’t noticed bad localizations unless they really stick out because something doesn’t make sense or the game isn’t providing the info it’s suppose to be providing (I don’t remember Natsume making a bad impression on me either! xD ). I think other then Higurashi, only Bearth of Fire stands out to me. That game had some pretty boring and often repeated dialogue, but I found that the NCPs that were suppose to tell you vital stuff (i.e. what you are suppose to do next, or where item x is) only stated stuff in very vague terms. It was so bad in one instance that I had to check a walkthrough to see what I was suppose to do next because I had no idea. It certainly ruined the game a bit….and I was a bit peeved at Capcom for using the same translation as the SNES game when it really needed a new translation. Lazy GBA port was lazy. :/

  • kroufonz

    so long as their future localized japanese game have japanese voice and released in physical copy, I’ll try to support them and forget their past (abomination localization) .

    hope they get to work with kadokawa and bring some of kadokawa published games here

    -upcoming Fortune Arterial PS3 is a good VN (august game published by kadokawa) why don’t ignition try and become pioneer ( if hard headed SCEA not gonna allow it, maybe folks at SCEE can allow subtitled only VN on PS3/PSP, i mean does any publisher (mangagamer or other niche) ever try to talk with SCEE?????????)

    also kadokawa have some nice amount of anime games franchise so maybe ignition can bring some of them here (since other company that conquer much more more than half anime games franchise ain’t gonna try publishing their non naruto /dbz here)

  • puchinri

    El Shaddai is pretty huge, especially for a game that won’t be out until next month. But I am looking forward to it, and I think for what they’ve shown so far, it does deserve the attention.

    ARF’s localization does bug me, but not too badly. I don’t think it’s an acceptable standard, but it’s tolerable, but as long as Ignition is going to be handling localization better and someone at the company realizes that kind of work is not okay, I have faith in them.

    I hope they can get a lot of other niche titles out of Japan and do some good development work with others.

  • So Ignition’s main HQ is in Austin? Innnnnterestiiiiiiiing…


    I wonder if they would let me tour their building…

  • Roses4Aria

    I would still love to see an Arc Rise Fantasia sequel. It was such a great game and I really enjoyed playing it. Too bad the voices pretty much killed it. :(

  • Phlo

    I hope they stop localizing anything with dialogue. Or voices. Or just stop localizing.

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