Xseed Interview Part 1 – How To Exceed In Today’s Marketplace

By Spencer . July 7, 2011 . 6:02pm

Xseed has a diverse slate of projects ranging from a PlayStation Network dungeon crawler to an ambitious Nintendo DS game from CyberConnect2. In this interview, Ken Berry, Director of Publishing at Xseed, talks about the publisher’s plans for Solatorobo: Red the Hunter, their relationship with Falcom, and why they brought Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls overseas.

 

How did Xseed pick up Solatorobo? I know you have a long running relationship with Namco Bandai, but isn’t Nintendo of Europe tied into the localization?

 

image Ken Berry, Director of Publishing: Well, that’s sort of where the discussion started. We have been keeping an eye on this title for awhile. Thankfully, due to our good relationship with Namco Bandai, having done Fragile Dreams and Sky Crawlers with them before, we have an open channel of communication.

 

We were weighing before whether to do this title or not and once we found out Nintendo of Europe was already localizing this into English it made our decision much easier. This is a title the developer, CyberConnect2, are super passionate about and they really wanted to see it released in the U.S. and they worked with us to make it happen.

 

It’s great to see Xseed bring Solatorobo stateside, I know this announcement is going to make a lot of Siliconera readers happy who have been asking about the title for months. However, from a retail side, less and less shelf space is being allocated for regular DS games. Are you worried?

 

We’re definitely worried and that’s one of the things we discussed with Namco. We had to make sure that their expectations are inline with the realities of the market now. I think both of us, meaning Xseed and Namco, are going into this project hopeful because its such a great title, but we’re also realistic about the type of sales we may see due to overall environment of the DS market right now.

 

Did working on Solatorobo open channels of communication with Nintendo of Europe?

 

No, actually. Everything, all of our communication, is done directly with Namco Bandai of Japan. Yeah, we’ve never licensed a title from Nintendo before, so I would think the prospects of that happening would be very slim.

 

sola1 sola2

 

Wizardry: Labyrinth of the Lost Souls was another surprise. Why did you think now was the right time to release a first person perspective, text-heavy, dungeon crawler?

 

I guess you can say there have been various Wizardry games that were only released in Japan before. I think this is the first one to come out in the U.S. from Japan in about ten years, from what I’m hearing. The timing seemed right with digital downloads being as prevalent as they are now, being able to offer it to the people who want it without having to worry about retailer pushback on an overlooked game that has to live up to the standards as their other boxed products. We knew as a packaged product it’d be tough. But, with so many people on PSN, so many members, we knew the people that really wanted to pick up Wizardry would.

 

Did the PSN outage derail your plans for Wizardry?

 

A little bit. It was scheduled to launch during the outage and we were going to announced the exact release date and pricing beforehand. Once the outage started, nobody really knew when the [PlayStation] Store would come back online and if the product that was scheduled for certain days would be staggered or if everything would be launched together at once, as soon as the store came back online. It did sort of surprise us a bit that as soon as the store came back online Wizardry was live.

 

Sony, they’ve been a great partner, and we knew they were working hard to get the store back online. So, we just went with the flow. As soon as we heard it was online, we sort of scrambled to get a release date announcement out. Hopefully, there will be a lot of new people coming back to the [PlayStation] store. and maybe we’ll get some extra exposure that way. It could work out for the best.

 

wizardry-labyrinth-of-lost-souls-01 

We had a last minute E3 meeting and a last minute Wizardry announcement.

 

[Laughs] Yup. Well in terms of the Wizardry one, we couldn’t really help. In terms of the last minute announcement [Solatorobo], that more has to do with us not really having a consistent flow of product coming in.

 

Of course, all of the other subsidiaries they have products for at least twelve months in advance, most of them provided by their parent company. We don’t get many products from our parent company, AQI [AQ Interactive], so we have to go out there and scramble and look for titles. Unfortunately, we just didn’t have enough titles set up in advance of E3 where we could work out a booth or even a meeting room to show them all. Everything came through very quickly in the end.

 

It’s true that other companies like Atlus and NIS America can count on key series, but you do have a really good partner now. Xseed is tied with Falcom. They kind of give you a steady stream of products.

 

Somewhat, yeah. They have been a very good partner of ours. You know, they’ve actually gone in and localized everything themselves, which is new for them. All of their other projects that hit the US before, they’ve always left the programming or the porting to another company and quality did suffer a lot of times. We let them see a new model where they are localizing it to put out the best product possible.

 

At the same time there is a tradeoff is that if they are too busy working on other products, like they are right now, the flow of games sort of slows. They’re a small company and they are working on so many new products right now they don’t have time to assign a programmer on localization for us. That’s slowed up a little bit, but we think as soon as they finish up with some of their products they are working on now, hopefully we can get back to localizing some of their titles.

 

Specific to Falcom, many of their games for PSP and it is a difficult market for North America already. With PlayStation Vita on the horizon, I don’t think being a PSP publisher is going to be any easier. Xseed committed to localizing the Trails in the Sky series and there are so many other Falcom games like the following titles also for PSP. How are you going to handle this?

 

There are definitely a lot of challenges there. We actually went into the project the PSP still had a little bit more life in it than it does now. We’ve been experiencing some technical issues where the second chapter of Trails in the Sky – because it was released on two UMDs and because of the amount of time it takes to localize such a huge title like that, that the UMD format may not be available when it is ready to publish.

 

By that same token it’s so large and taking up two UMDs, Falcom is having some problem putting it on the PSN Store for digital download, as well. Those are some of the issues we’re working on and yes as you mentioned there are other titles after Trails in the Sky and those games are absolutely massive games too. We really need to just think about that some more and figure out how we can just translate so much text.

 

image

 

Have you thought about other options like the PSP remaster series, so the Falcom games would get more of a fair chance in retail?

 

Absolutely. You have to keep in mind that Falcom originally started on PC so they are PC experts. We’ve talked to them numerous times about looking at Steam and numerous platforms. That is something Falcom is open to. Hopefully, if their resources open up we can have more serious discussions about – maybe this franchise won’t be able to recoup the investment on this platform, but if we can spread that out on a couple platforms maybe that would be a safer bet for both of us.

 

Read part two where we discuss the Marvelous/AQ Interactive merger and Xseed’s plans further into the future here.



  • Shinji Kazuya

    I really really hope they find some way to continue.
    I would love to play Zero no Kiseki in English. :<
    Lloyd Bannings is one of my favourite male characters!

    • Ren

      You mean Capture King Bannings? :D

  • http://thrust-the-sky.deviantart.com/ WildArms

    So… directly handled with namco bandai in JAP (i thought it was with NA’s first then they talk with JP’s). And lol, somehow this part of the interview made look nintendo like some gods that are all high in the gaming world o-O.

    And i hope you guys can find a good way to be able to handle easier all that text, but well, as they say, nothing beats experience, maybe you guys will naturally get faster! Muahaha!

    Darn, too bad with the problems that are around the 2nd trails in the sky, but im sure you guys will be able to pull it together, and i hope all that effort will get paid! I will do my part, you can count on it :D! 

    Seriously, i see my trails in the sky box where i strategically put in my room in a place i always put my eyes on, and i smile when i see it >83 EVEN IF IT’S A LOT OF WORK, I HOPE TO SEE THE FULL TAILS IN The SkY COLlECTION IN mY ROOM! *looks at the horizon*

    Also, i hope solatorobo can sell well, somehow, i get the feeling the DS games are still alive and well, i’ll give it a year or so to get more 3DS games, so it might not go so bad :D Best of lucks

    • http://www.youtube.com/user/jodecideion?feature=mhum TheWon and Only

      They are LOL! 
      I plan to play this game on my 3DS using that good old slide stick.

  • FireCouch

    If Falcom were to put their products on steam, I would buy them.  I hope they consider it some day.

    • Shinji Kazuya

      Yup. I would buy it without thinking twice. For me, Zero no Kiseki looks better on PC.

      • http://thrust-the-sky.deviantart.com/ WildArms

        Of course it looks better on PC xD considering they have to lower the quality to port it to the psp.

        Anywyas i would get it too :3, personally i prefer PSP, but if there is no other way, ill get it on PC

  • epy

    I really do hope we get to finish the original Trails in the Sky trilogy on the PSP.

  • majorhavok

    The way Trails in the Sky is talked about makes me wonder just how profitable that game really was with all the effort put into it. I know that Internet promises rarely translate to anything representative of sales, but I’d rebuy all the Falcom games that are on PSP if they were rereleased for PC in English. You know what I’ll go one step further and say I’d be open to helping hack or port or report code features for any of the games.

  • http://tristsantithesis.tumblr.com/ Tsunayoshi Sawada

    Can they please come to STEAM or something, I would definitely purchase their titles via that Platform, and from my understanding it would be a stark difference in terms of whats already offered through that system. Please.

    I still need to get the last Legend of Heroes, but if the future is in jeopardy, well I may just wait. 

  • Ladius

    Steam looks like the best option for Trails’ future, even more so considering even Zero no Kiseki is getting a port (albeit only in China). That said, I really hope they’re able to release SC on PSP since I fear many would rage if the series was dropped, especially seeing the kind of ending FC has.

    • http://twitter.com/endlesshistory Endless History

      Well, from what I’ve been hearing, Zero no Kiseki PC is going to have some really crazy awful DRM on it. You have to have an internet connection and everything in order to be able to play it.

      • entrydenied

        Yup but that’s only because of the chinese company that’s making/distributing it. I don’t think the PC versions made by Falcom had bad DRM.

        • http://twitter.com/endlesshistory Endless History

          They didn’t. It wasn’t until the Win7 versions that they did any sort of rights management or copy protection at all- and in those versions, you have to include the serial # included in the box to be able to install the game.

          But Falcom isn’t developing Zero no Kiseki for PC. It’s that Chinese company. I’m not even sure how similar it will be to Falcom’s programming style, as well.

          All we can do is wait and see.

  • cj_iwakura

    Just want to say that XSeed have earned my eternal, undying respect for localizing Wizardry. I’m yours for life.

    • Ravage27

       one of the biggest surprise this gen i would say

  • http://www.facebook.com/trevor.nicolaysen Trevor Nicolaysen

    I’m generally iffy on the decision to buy xseed games since I’m kind of a niche rpg gamer (it kind of limits me).  But If I decide to buy one, I always know the localisation is up there with, or above the best of any other company.  Kind of a strong word to use, but “comforting” I suppose could describe it.

  • Wackoramaco87

    Very interesting interview! I like how there may be hope for games 4 and 5 in coming to the US. I must say however, I really hope that the games don’t come out only on the PC… not much of a PC gamer. =( 

  • Phlo

    If Trails in the Sky came to Steam? I’d buy it AGAIN.

  • BelmontHeir

    It’s sad that the PSP and DS are quickly becoming relics in the gaming world. o_O I’d happily play RPGs on them both till I’m old and wrinkly.

    • BGMcDF

      A Westerner professing love for the PSP who isn’t me? It must be Thur– wait, what? Shame more aren’t like you, mate. We could have gotten Valkyria Chronicles 3…

      • BelmontHeir

        I hear you. The PSP has got to be the most underrated piece of hardware on the market. For RPG lovers and Japanophiles, it’s a dream come true. Right now I’m loving Ys Seven on it :D

        • BGMcDF

          As much as I hate to apply the term “Japanophile” to myself, looking to my games library leaves little recourse. Excuse me while I drown out the validity of the statement with Project DIVA 2nd. And weep for my ever fleeting social relevance. 

          • BelmontHeir

            Ha ha, I know what you mean. I can try to fight it but I look at the shelves and see all the XSeed and NISA games and…it’s staring me right in the face!

  • Phoenix_Apollo

    I don’t even know if it’s realistic to expect SC at retail anymore. Seeing FC here for PSP is almost impossible, as things are now. They only way they might potentially have a chance is if they did a Steam/PSP dual release for SC and FC. I imagine that that might stabilize the sales a bit.

  • Draparde

    Hmmm. i really hope the last two of the original trilogy can make it out on PSP. (the third was only single UMD right? so maybe that could be put on PSN, as odd as only have 1 and 3 would be…)   or perhaps a collection for ps3 or something. (assuming sony doesn’t use their ‘no’ button as they have been recently) 

    if it had it’s release “Only” on steam…i’d be reluctant for abit…but i’d buy it im sure.

  • PrinceHeir

    I LOVE XSEED :*

    keep up the good work ^^

  • mikanko

    If Falcom could get their back catalog localized and up on Steam I would lose a good chunk of money.

  • http://www.youtube.com/B4ULoveShine Tim_at_where

    Since Falcom is the #1 Jrpg pc publisher, it would be nice if XSEED would convince the prior to set up shop on Steam… in America.

    Also, I can’t wait for pt.2, especially in regard to Luminous Arc 3.

  • Lich King

    If they have good relationship with Namco Bandai, please ask to localize Super Robot Taisen OG! :) 

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