Xseed Interview Part 2 – Exceeding The Future
Yesterday, we looked at Xseed’s present plans and talked about titles like Solatorobo: Red the Hunter, Wizardry: Labyrinth of the Lost Souls, and their relationship with Falcom. Today, we’re going to delve into the future. Ken Berry, Director of Publishing at Xseed, discusses relationships with other companies like Rodea the Sky Solider developer Kadokawa Games and branching out to other platforms.
Xseed went after a very passionate user base with the Falcom partnership, but other publishers seem wary of the PSP.
Ken Berry, Director of Publishing: I guess it all depends on the project. We look for the best content that’s available and right now the PSP is still really hot in Japan. There are still a ton of great games for PSP coming out in Japan. Because of that, if it’s a choice between a great game on PSP versus a mediocre game on a better platform in the U.S., we tend to go for the better quality game and have faith that the gamers will agree and the sales will follow.
That’s a bold answer.
Earlier, you mentioned how your parent company hasn’t been supplying Xseed with as many games. With the new company after the Marvelous and AQ Interactive merger, there will be a lot more titles in development. Do you think you’ll be able to work with more of those games?
We definitely hope to be able to expand on our relationship with Marvelous. We published quite a few of their games in the past, even when weren’t directly related, and now they are merging with out parent company. We definitely anticipate having a much closer relationship, but that doesn’t necessarily guarantee we will be publishing all of their titles moving forward.
Since AQI has so many internal studios, will Xseed move into development and not just localize games?
That’s something we’ve looked into. It’s not exactly our strong point because we don’t have an actual game producer type of person at our company. Everything is centered like on a localization producer working on finished product already. We are definitely looking at a lot of different avenues of what’s the best way to get the best game? Do we continue to license everything or do we create something on our own? We will continue to look at that.
Speaking of licensing there is one company that is growing and doesn’t have a U.S. partner yet, Kadokawa Games. You have worked with someone who is working with Kadokawa too… maybe he’s doing Rodea: The Sky Soldier now. Are you going to bring those titles and their lineup like Earth Seeker over?
[Laughs.] If Kadokawa gives us a chance we would be honored to work on those titles. Kadokawa is definitely working on some good stuff between those two titles that you said. Every single project, as passionate as we are about bringing the best games we can get, it does in the end have to make some kind of business sense. Hopefully, we can come to terms with those games. Earth Seeker, I believe, was just released in Japan. Rodea still seems a way off and we want to see how it is received and how it progresses as a final game. We are definitely interested in pursuing those two titles.
Have you been talking with them at all?
Yes, our president does have a channel of communication with Kadokawa. So, we do talk to them, but I’m sure Kadokawa talks to a lot of American publishers.
What about your communication channel with Namco Bandai. It seems this year they haven’t been focusing on localization of as many Japanese titles. Is Xseed still interested in their perhaps smaller or designed for Japan titles?
Absolutely. There are plenty of titles, not just from Namco Bandai, but other large Japanese publishers where their U.S. subsidiary has decided not to bring something over. I guess it’s just a difference of scale. We’re such a small company that, perhaps, we can be profitable of sales say 50,000 units whereas a large subsidiary with a huge a U.S. office if they’re not forecasting 200,000 units or more it’s not worth their time. Especially, if it’s a big huge localization and translation process.
Konami has some Japanese games in the pipeline with tri-Ace and Nude Maker. They’re working with those developers, but it’s unclear if any of those games are coming out. Have you thought about working with tri-Ace?
If it’s available and Konami is willing to offers to license it out, then sure. We’re always looking for titles from any publisher, but having never worked with Konami before it’s hard to say how those discussions would turn out.
Acquire is interested in seeing Akiba’s Trip localized and some of their other games. Have you been talking with Acquire more?
We’ve had a great experience with Acquire working on Wizardry so yes, by all means, we hope to extend that relationship on various titles. I mean Akiba’s Trip is a very interesting title, it’s doing very well in Japan. I mean who knows, we’ll take a look at it and see if there’s a market for it out here.
How many games can Xseed have in the pipeline at one time?
That’s a difficult question to answer. It depends on the scale and the scope. Are we doing the full translation in house or do we get to at least outsource the translation and just worry about he editing? Or are we getting pretty much finished, translated files, like we’re getting with Solatorobo where we are fortunate that Nintendo of Europe did all of the localization. We just have one editor going in and brushing up the text wherever necessary and making minor adjustments for the U.S. market. There are a lot of different factors involved.
I’d say a conservative estimate, for the course of the year, we can churn out six to eight decent size games.
And Trails in the Sky counts as how many decent sized games?
[Laughs] Yeah, that would take up about half of that capacity, to be honest with you.
Right now, do you have other titles in the works aside from Solatorobo and Trails in the Sky Second Chapter.
We do, we are still early in the planning phase and also going through final contract negotiations as well, but we do hope to be able to announce a few more titles, hopefully within the next few weeks. At least, within the next month or so.
And what does the future hold, that you can tell us?
In terms of packaged goods we have Solatorobo and we haven’t announced much else. We have other announcements coming for digital only titles, which don’t require as long as a lead time from announcement to when we can get it out for sale.
Ah, so maybe you picked up Malicious.
[Laughs.] Well, to be honest with you, we do not have that title. It looks great, but we do not have that title. So, no that is not one of them.
Are you interested in picking up any 3DS titles? Are you a 3DS developer now?
We are looking at some 3DS titles, but for now I don’t think we’re ready to jump into that market just yet unless the perfect opportunity comes by. We’re still sort of sitting back and watching how the market plays out on the 3DS.
In your opinion, what systems do you think are the strongest ones that you want to be on now?
If we could be there at the launch of Vita, that would be absolutely great for us. It just seems like a natural transition from all of the PSP work we’ve been doing recently to be able to move on to Sony’s next handheld platform.
That’s interesting, so you’re already looking at Vita games… maybe the upcoming Falcom game?
Sure, I mean there are other people that are making games for Vita already. We’ll keep any eye on the progress of those games and keep discussions open with those developers and hopefully something will pan out. Like I said it’d be great if it’s right at launch, but anything within launch window, within the first six months of the hardware launching. That would be an ideal scenario for us.
What do you think of Wii U? It’s probably too early for licensed games, but what are your thoughts on the hardware?
With the right opportunity for us, with the right title, absolutely. Their showing and demonstration was very impressive. I think everyone was floored with what the unique new controller can do. If there’s a game creator out there that puts out something very compelling and we get a chance to publish that, then yeah we would like to seize that opportunity.
Are you thinking about localizing iPhone games or doujin games?
We’ve been definitely thinking about iPhone, Android, and perhaps other ways to bring games to the market. Of course, social games are very big in the market now. We are looking to branch out, yes.
If you’re going to tell the readers on Siliconera to look forward to something aside from Solatorobo and Falcom games, what would you tell the my readers that are Xseed fans?
I will say that one title that we’ve already started localization, that we haven’t announced yet, it’s a pretty unique horror title for PSP. That’s probably about as much information as I can share for now, but it is a title that Siliconera has covered in the past.