Tekken Interview: DLC And How Social Media Changed Harada’s Role As A Producer

By Spencer . September 5, 2012 . 5:41pm

ttt2_int2

Tekken series producer Katsuhiro Harada, like many video game producers, is quite active on Twitter and often responds directly to fans. When Siliconera caught up with him, we talked about how social media changed his role as a producer and how early morning Tekken Tag Tournament 2 players led to creating Tekken Unlimited.

 

Harada-san, you spoke about DLC before and how you don’t want to make any Tekken characters paid content. Is limiting the amount of paid DLC difficult to do? Because we’re still getting costumes for Soulcalibur V.

 

Katsuhiro Harada: This is not just in our company, but various other companies too. We are seeing an increasing number of titles that are gaining some of their profits from paid downloadable content. Internally people are saying, “What’s your plan for DLC? What you can do for it?” But that’s not just because of our company. That’s because the kind of business model we’re used to. So, it is true that, I’m not being told directly to charge for DLC, but “what are our DLC plans” is something that I am asked quite often by the executives.

 

I’m explaining this to the executives that there are some parts that even if they are DLC that we shouldn’t charge for. For example, characters, techniques, stages are parts of the game and are essential. We don’t want to charge players for those because we always include those essential elements in the game to start with. So, even if we take them and put them in the DLC, we feel that we shouldn’t charge for those.

 

There are some things, and I’ve said this before that we might charge for. For example, the movies from past Tekkens, or soundtrack from past Tekkens. These aren’t elements that are necessary to play the game, but it’s still something that a lot of fans have asked for. Since we do have to pay royalties for music licenses as well, those are some things that we might charge for at some point. When I’m asked by his executives about our downloadable content plans, I say the same thing. We don’t want to charge for elements that are essential to the game, but there are other elements that fans ask for that we can charge for.

 

Tekken fans will be happy to hear that. I think that you’ve been trying to give as much content to the fans as possible, but at the same time, fans keep asking for more and more on Twitter and message boards. Do you think it’s more difficult to be a producer nowadays? Do you ever feel that people will ever be satiated?

 

Rather than it being more difficult to be a producer, I just feel the risks involved have increased. What I mean by that is before social media was a major part of interacting with people, the fans would only be interacting with our company. Whether that would be PR people or someone else, you wouldn’t have direct access to producers or development staff. Now you do.

 

I only started going to press events, greeting fans, and being on Twitter in the past five or six years. So now, there’s more risk involved. Because if you do it well everyone follows you. They will support your product, as a result of your communication with them and what your stance is on decisions. If you don’t do that well on some issues, or just in general, 80%-90% of people can’t follow you, not Twitter-wise, but your stance on things and you as a developer. That is something kind of hard to recover from. Not just as a producer, but being in charge of your product, your product also suffers greatly. It’s hard to say black or white whether is more difficult or not, but I do feel a great change in risk involved because of social media.

 

On the other hand, there is a lot of merit that come out from social media and interacting with fans. Before we would go to the arcades to get feedback there and see how people are playing our game, but it’s much harder to see regarding the console versions – how people are playing it, what they like, what they don’t like. That stuff is much easier to listen to now since we have direct interaction through social media. Not just gaining feedback on your product, but also just hearing voices from around the world, “We really love your game!” “We hope that you will try your hardest and we will support you.” That message really helps motivate you when you are creating a new game.

 

When Namco Bandai re-released Tekken Tag Tournament 2 as Tekken Unlimited in arcades you added a 1 vs. 1 mode, which is just like regular Tekken. Why did you decide to add this in?

 

It’s been quite a while since the original [Tekken] Tag [Tournament]. We wanted to provide people with 1 vs. 1, which wasn’t in the current Tag, so that people who haven’t learned a single character yet could approach it and get into the game. We also wanted to have the Tag system that we did this time around plus all of the new features in Tag 2 that weren’t in the original. Not only that, we wanted to take people who are familiar with the typical 1 vs. 1 gameplay and have them be able to play on 2 on 1. We have all the people who didn’t play the original Tag and were maybe into Tekken 5 or 6. Then you have the people who have played the original Tag or are currently very excited about the new Tag. We wanted them to be able to play against each other, so we’ve included everyone in this current product, so everyone can enjoy the game with each other.

 

Usually, those kinds of updates would be in a home version, like the Tekken Tag Tournament 2 coming out for PS3 and Xbox 360. I’m curious why these featured made their debut in the arcade with Tekken Unlimited.

 

One thing we noticed that was kind of interesting is when there was only 2 vs. 2 for Tag 2, we noticed that there were people who play very early in the morning and some people play very late at night. Because they hadn’t played the original Tag and they only knew one character. So they were trying to practice with a new one to find a partner before fighting against other people. We also heard a lot of them say maybe they would wait for the console version so that they can learn a new character and create a tag team. Seeing this kind of made think about how we want to address that. Adding the 1 on 1 and then 2 on 1 into Tag helped alleviate those problems.

 

ttt2_int_1

 

That’s interesting and quite astute to notice the early bird players. Tekken Tag Tournament 2 has Fight Lab where you train Combot to fight. This seems designed to teach players how to play Tekken in the same way other mini-games taught different skills, but what happened to the wild modes that had the same goal like Tekken Bowl?

 

Tekken Bowl was something we originally implemented to teach players how to do combos and aerial juggles. Tekken Bowl is difficult because that was made during a time when there wasn’t online play. Now, if we created a new Tekken bowling game we’d have to have online play and that would split the player base. Some would play online versus, some would be playing online bowling, some of them would be playing offline bowling. We didn’t want to split the player base. There are some modes in Fight Lab that are even more interesting like some of the mini-games and other things we have implemented in that mode. And if people want to play bowling they can download it for free on iOS.

 

Back at Nintendo’s press conference we saw the Mega Mushroom as an item that made Heihachi gigantic in Tekken Tag Tournament 2 for Wii U. That was pretty interesting! What else can you tell us about the Wii U version?

 

Well, it is kind difficult to mention much because we are focusing on the Xbox 360 and the PS3 versions as the PR focus. But we can say this – because we are collaborating with Nintendo we really wanted to create features like [the Mega Mushroom] that are only possible because we are collaborating with Nintendo. That’s just one example and we hope that everyone will be looking forward to the other things we have to show.

 

For Tekken X Street Fighter, will it be more like Tekken Tag Tournament 2? Last year, we talked about the limb system and you confirmed the game will have fireballs too. Can you tell us anything new about that title?

 

It’s really hard to say anything at this point because we are right near the master for Tag 2. We took half of the staff who are supposed to work on Tekken X Street Fighter, and we assigned them to help Tag 2 to help finish up the game. So, there’s really not much to say about Tekken X Street Fighter at this point. I’m sorry.


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  • Fango

    Capcom could learn a thing or two from harada.

    • French

      I second that, DLC is abused so much by Capcom. I am all for DLC as long as it provides content that isn’t essential for the game to be played to its fullest and is enjoyable, a lot of these greedy companies seem to hold back on crucial aspects of the game on release and just sell the fragments as day one DLC, this upsets me. Rockstar are great examples of a company providing DLC with extra value.

      Blessings to you, Harada !

  • Tales_of_Master

    (Epic Slow Clap)….Harada…I love you :3

  • Luna Kazemaru
  • Paradox me

    I love this man’s attitude towards DLC. I don’t have a problem with it per se, but it’s just implemented so poorly in the vast majority of the games. Story content, characters, etc., in my opinion, should not be DLC, period. 

    Additionally, don’t set up ‘DLC traps’ in games, where you give access to barebones content for the sole purpose of coaxing players into buying DLC. A good example is Final Fantasy XIII-2′s Colosseum. That area served absolutely no purpose to anyone that didn’t buy DLC battles. Another is Dragon Age: Origins, with NPCs that wanted to sell you quests in-game.

    I don’t know, it’s just gotten out of hand. I don’t even care if it’s free, I just don’t like having essential content as little add-ons that I probably won’t even have access to later on down the road.

    So, good on Harada. Hopefully he gets a nice big promotion at some point and makes these beliefs company-wide policies.

    • http://takopako.tumblr.com takopako

      “Story content, characters, etc., in my opinion, should not be DLC, period. ”
      i think it is okay if these things are DLC, just as long as they aren’t paid DLC, even though that is probably what you meant. 

      i really don’t know why it is such a foreign idea to give your customers additional game bonuses and updates for free. lol. even if it is developed beforehand, people feel like their money was well spent, that way.

  • MrKappa

    Already have the game early and it is everything a game of its genre should be.

    Harada is the model that all should follow when they design DLC. I’m tired of having to pay for endings or story parts that aren’t “essential” only to have to youtube it later.

    He isn’t only the hero we deserve, but the hero we need.

  • Guy Wesley

    All glory to Harada-san!

    He does DLC right, listens to fans, implement a mode early before a console release, wears sunglasses and doesn’t afraid of anything.

    This is looking to be an epic fighter of this year.

    • SLick123456789111

      Wears sunglasses indoors*

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Richard-Viet-Nguyen/100000070536507 Richard Viet Nguyen

    Sounds like a respectable and honorable man. It’s too bad I’m not much of a Tekken guy.

  • Rolling Guy

    Now I’m even more excited. September 11 is coming really close now. I’m glad I pre-ordered it. My retailer didn’t say anything about the bikini DLC though. I hope it comes with my pre-order. :/

  • http://gamgambit.tumblr.com/ Thespian Treasure Hunter ♢

    This guy is awesome!

    There are some companies that need to follow this example.

    • SLick123456789111

       This.
      Mad respect for Harada standing up for his own formulated business model.

  • http://twitter.com/alixraen alixraen

    Whoa, TTT2 just scored 39/40 from Famitsu.

    What can I say, other than I have to give mad praise to the man, Harada-san.

    • Kevi Johnson-el

      the highest in a decade 

    • Ty Arnold

      literally worse than nintendogs

  • OatMatadoQuatro

    Regarding content I would like a story mode similar to the one of Tekken 6 but a bit more appealing. For newcomers, the plot must have left a bit weird and for others Jin turning evil after three games fighting against his relatives. 

  • Leon

    And that’s why Harada is the man.

  • http://twitter.com/CheeseCakez0 Ace

    Love the business practices of Harada-sama

  • Kitestwinblades

    May just be the happiest 9/11 in quite a while. For the first time THIS YEAR I feel like my 60 bucks is going towards something I can really get behind. Thank you Harada and everyone from the team :3

    Less than one week away before this baby is in our hands XD

    http://images.g4tv.com/ImageDb3/164087_l/WTF-Tekken-6-62209.jpg

  • AokiShizuku

    I’m not much of a Tekken person but I’m thinking of buying TTT2 because of how much of a wonderful man Harada is. 

    I bow down to you sir! 

  • XypherCode

    Nice interview :)
    Kudos to Harada-san :D

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Stephen-Mc-Devitt/100002626261475 Stephen Mc Devitt

    For those who don’t know, the pre-order DLC was released too early yesterday but was quickly removed afterwords but each file size is 100KB so the DLC is already on the disc!

    • zero254

      Of course it is, it’s free dlc.

    • heartless141

       yep, it will  be free in the future, but for now it’s preorder exclusive/

  • Tails the Foxhound

    “Now, if we created a new Tekken bowling game we’d have to have
    online play and that would split the player base. Some would play online
    versus, some would be playing online bowling, some of them would be
    playing offline bowling. We didn’t want to split the player base.”

    …What? Regardless of which modes you create some people will inevitably play it offline rather than online (i.e. I play GearsoW 3′s Horde offline solo, more than online multi.). It’s cool with me you dropped the mode, it happens, but that’s a pretty dumb ass reasoning.

    • Speedo Redempteur

       he doesn’t want to do things anymore and not go all the way in..
      That’s teh real reason for me ..

  • http://s932.photobucket.com/ usagi_san

    When someone takes the time to explain their stance on how DLC should be handled by explaining why certain DLC will charged and those that will remain free. You can’t help but feel respect for the man.

    I haven’t owned a Tekken game since the last Tag game, and was happy to hear/see all the features of this new one. I will gladly support Harada and the rest of the Tekken team by waiting anxiously for next week to come and to receive my copy of the ‘We Are Tekken’ edition. Heck, I might even get Tekken x Street Fighter depending on how it is handled.

    Plus, Jun Kazama has returned. Oh, happy days!

  • Göran Isacson

    I do like it when someone sounds like their words are NOT being filtered through the PR-machine. Like, I’m pretty sure that there’s SOME restraint involved with Haradas statements, but they don’t feel… evasive, I guess? They feel like they’re coming from an honest man who speaks bluntly but respectfully about the realities of gaming. So often I feel frustrated with statements coming from Japanese developers due to cultural differences- they’re trained and taught to appreciate and value loyalty to the company and their higher-ups and as a result, so many statements come off feeling servile, evasive and vague to a Westerner like myself. But Harada here? I’m digging his jive. I get where he’s coming from and what he has to say. Even if there is someone writing these things for him, then it is at least a script I can find palatable.

  • heartless141

    i have so much respect for the man. and this is a perfect example of how DLCs should be handled.
    i will buy all the DLCs for TTT2 in the future now, even stuffs i don’t need.
    seriously, even if he throw out packs of DLCs like Soul Calibur V, i wouldn’t mind at all.

  • Victoria [Rokuso3]

    He is my hero.

  • Tee Niitris

    Not much I can say except… can’t wait.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bob-Obb/100001994017630 Jimmy Dean

    I can certainly respect him more than the assclowns working at Crapcom but he’s still a hypocrite. He said he won’t charge for character DLC because it would unbalance the game and yet if you don’t preorder Tag 2 you have to wait months to use exclusive pre-order characters. In some ways that’s even worse, since you can’t immediately purchase the DLC. Or maybe you can and he’s a liar altogether.

    • heartless141

       you are assuming it takes months. but who knows, might be a week or two.

      and they pretty much begged everyone to preorder already, so if you choose to pick it up later your wait won’t be that long anyway.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bastol.bunder Bastol Bunder

    but no 2vs2 from 4 different consoles , the main selling point is not there  , i could understand the lack of online for first TTAG on PS2 but this is PS3 , online is everything to a game like tekken and not having 2vs2 from 4 different console is a turn off , its not TAG , i was looking forward to this if it had it

    • Peace Legacy

      Like it isn’t laggy enough with 2 people playing online

    • heartless141

      agreed it’s a minus, but not that important as far as i care. seriously, team work with a person who’s not next to you is pretty hard. even with voice chat.
      the 2v2 on both this and SFxT is pure service, nothing else.

      does anyone even play 2v2 online on SFxT?

      don’t be too greedy.

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