Japanese Publisher Bets Big On Publishing Western Indie Games On PlayStation 3

By Spencer . December 31, 2013 . 1:42am

image While indie developers can self-publish in North America and Europe, Japan is a different market. Digital distribution still requires a publisher that’s a Japan-based company. That’s why Skullgirls is distributed by CyberFront and Arc System Works is tied to Nano Assault Neo.


Zoo Entertainment is stepping into the ring and licensing Western developed indie games for Japan. Zoo actually started out with solutions for medical records got into the video game business in the late 2000s distributing PC games for Japan like Left for Dead 2.


Earlier this year, Zoo started releasing indie developed PS3 games starting with Realms of Ancient War which was released in April. Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams was released on October 31, but only for PlayStation 3.


Zoo has even more Western indies lined up. Final Exam, Zombie Tycoon II, and Contrast are all slated for release in spring 2014, but only on PlayStation 3. It’s interesting to see a Japanese publisher fill the void of bringing digitally distributed indie games overseas which is a new market. There’s another publisher called Intergrow that is dabbling in the same market, but with 3DS eShop titles instead of PS3 releases.

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  • Interesting to see how the localization challenges go both ways–I hope Japan will be able to enjoy more of these indie titles in years to come. A bit intriguing how there seems to be an extra hurdle there for foreign games to get published digitally. A bit of a shame, especially when a lot of indie titles wouldn’t be hard to bring over with only a little translation.

  • malek86

    The sooner they remove that requirement, the better.

  • ragingmerifes

    I wanted to see japanese player’s reactions to games like Hotline Miami and Spelunky, so I praise them for doing it. It’s great if Japan starts demanding more games like these, without all the stupid prejudice if a game is indie or not, like some people do in the west.

    • Byron Kerrison II

      Here, here.

    • PreyMantis

      Just recently, according to Gunman Clive’s developer, its sales in Japan “are very good.”

    • equalequation

      I think the stupid prejudice is stronger in Japan, actually. Lots of people still won’t acknowledge a game as a commercial product if it doesn’t have a proper ‘company’ behind it. There are the breakout hits every now and then, but it’s relatively rare.

  • Demeanor

    Contrast (PS4 here) is pretty fun, it’s a nice change of pace from intense games. Also, I can totally see even non-gamers having fun playing it, since its mechanics are so intuitive.


      It was a fun game, too short though :P

    • drproton

      I could see a lot of non-gamers getting frustrated with it, since the collision detection is wonky and they might not realize you can dash to escape from being caught in geometry.

      I definitely enjoyed it though, and 100%ed it the first weekend after I got my PS4.

  • DesmaX

    Pretty sad to hear that Indie games still need publishers in Japan

    • Tyler Beale

      Well, someone has to translate them….

      • DesmaX

        So there’s only Indie games in the west?

        • Tyler Beale

          No…? Not sure what that’s supposed to mean…

          • DesmaX

            What if japanese Indies wants to release their cool games on PSN? They can’t

          • Tyler Beale

            Wait, seriously? Why not…?

            So much for a retro-themed Neptunia…

          • DesmaX

            Because they need a publisher. And that’s pretty expensive for indie developers.

            And CH isn’t indie, so they could do that if they wanted.

          • Warboss Aohd

            unless kickstarted of course, but that’s not a guarantee.

  • drproton

    Cyberfront just went out of business doing much of the same thing.

    • Göran Isacson

      Yeah, I was about to type the same thing. One can only hope that these guys will fare better…

  • UnderstandingIndustry

    japan market cartel

  • brian

    Solutions for medical records?

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