The Draw Of Osaka Through The Eyes Of A Game Developer

By Ishaan . April 14, 2011 . 2:37pm

Localization firm, Active Gaming Media, are based in the city of Osaka in Japan’s Kansai region. Home to developers such as Capcom and Square Enix’s Osaka division — who you might know as the developers of Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep — Osaka has been playing an increasingly important role in the games coming out of Japan, with various developers in the city having had a hand in some of the most interesting products of late.


Prior to setting up base in Osaka, Active Gaming Media were based in Tokyo until 2008. We asked localization manager, Justin Potts, what the appeal was in Osaka, away from Japan’s capital,
which is the centre of several businesses.


“From what I understand, I believe it was primarily a lifestyle choice of [company president] Ibai’s,” Potts told us. “Tokyo is a great place to do business, but it isn’t necessarily a great place to ‘live’ — not for everyone, at least, and having a family certainly plays a role in influencing these kinds of decisions.” 


“Those who visit on vacation tend to find the city to be pretty fascinating, overwhelming in a somewhat awe-inducing way,” Potts said of Japan’s capital, “ but the day-to-day grind can be a different experience. Having previously moved down from Tokyo to take a job at AGM myself, while there’s a lot to love about Tokyo, the Kansai region can definitely be more conducive to a somewhat more balanced lifestyle.”


“Osaka itself is a fine city, a reasonably good-sized business centre,” Potts feels, “but it’s having Kyoto, Kobe, Nara, the Wakayama coastline, and other distinct regions within a quick 30-40 minute train ride — about half the time of most peoples’ daily commutes in Tokyo — that’s the real appeal, I think.”


Game development talent is abundant in the Kansai region as well. Aside from more recognizable developers like Capcom, Kansai is where some of the interesting up and coming Japanese developers are based.


“In the Kansai region, you have the newly established GIPWest1, with companies like Hexadrive (The 3rd Birthday, RezHD), Access Games (Deadly Premonition), Q Games (Pixel Junk series), and System Prisma (ClaDun, Dot Defense) who are making really great games and are in a position to do some new and interesting things,” Potts offered as examples. “These are the kinds of groups and developers where I hope to see a lot of exciting change coming from in the near future.”

1. GIPWest is a voluntary association of game developers based in the Kansai region. All of the companies mentioned by Potts above (and more) are part of this group.


Another region to keep an eye on is Fukuoka, the capital city of the Fukuoka Prefecture, Potts believes. “GFF (Game Factory’s Friendship), a collection of developers in Fukuoka including Level-5, CyberConnect2, and others, has been incredibly proactive,with many of the region’s studios seeing a great deal of success across different platforms working on games of varying scale,” he told us.


Potts specifically pointed out Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm and Ashura’s Wrath developer, CyberConnect2, as an example of Fukuoka’s talent: “If you’ve ever had the opportunity to hear [Hiroshi] Matsuyama-san (head of CyberConnect2) speak or present, you’ve gotten a taste as to the kind of energy that’s driving the region.”

Read more stories about & & & & & & on Siliconera.

  • malek86

    Anybody remember International Superstar Soccer?

    … yeah, admittedly it was not that good, but for its time it was kinda fun.

  • PrinceHeir

    pretty cool :D

    i can see why living in tokyo would be hard(well it’s the same for every city)

    im not a city person since i don’t like dealing with the noise and the non-stop people going in and out.

    im interested with Hexa Drive and Access games, hope to see more from them :P

    The 3rd Birthday FTW =)

    • Born in Manhattan, lived in Los Angeles (thought it was too small), lived in London. I can only really be happy in a city, myself. Small towns/the country are fine for a visit, but I’d go mad living in a place that sparse.

    • SeventhEvening

      Osaka is still huge. It is the second largest city in Japan.

    • Joanna

      Yeah, I’m the same, I’m more of a country person myself. Cities are nice to go and see, but living there seems kind of annoying. ^^

  • Barrit

    So basically it’s the New York of Japan. Sounds like the exact same thing a neighbor of mine told me who is from NY. He loved it there, but it’s very very fast paced. Now that he has a family and kids, he moved away and doesn’t see himself going back.

    Very cool article. I would love to go to Tokyo to visit one day :)

    • As a New Yorker, I’ve always been told Tokyo is the New York of Japan.

    • puchinri

      I’m not a NY-er, but I gotta with Charles on this. Unless you meant Tokyo? (Consider your last line.)

      Since Oosaka’s sister city is San Fran though, that might be a slightly better comparison. But I actually don’t have a clue as to what I’d compare Oosaka to… (Most of Kansai is like that to me.)

  • Osaka was really nice when I went there last year. It definitely had more life and personality to it than Tokyo. Plus, things were more laid back. Then again, anything is more laid back than Tokyo.

    • SeventhEvening

      I agree. I loved Osaka and Kobe. I’d prefer to live there over Tokyo any day. It was easier for me to talk to people in Kobe. They were nicer and friendlier, which was good since my Japanese is still a bit on the basic side.

  • puchinri

    I love Oosaka (and my bias shows, but it’s way better than Tokyo!). It helps that it is close to Kyoto, etc. so you can hop on a train and have a place where you can really relax.

    I remember meeting someone from Fukuoka and wanting to go, so hearing that CyberConnect2 and Level-5 makes it sound even cooler.

  • vrakanox

    When I visited Japan Osaka was where I had the most fun. I was in the crazy “party” part of town and it was almost like Las Vegas. Though I’m not sure if anything really beats Hakone and Kyoto.

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

Siliconera Tests
Siliconera Videos