Ikaruga Developers Explain Why They Decided To Go With Steam

By Sato . February 2, 2014 . 5:00pm

We know that Ikaruga makers, Treasure, had trouble getting through the Steam Greenlight program, but once they did, it was a surprise to many of the company’s fans to see the game released for PC via the Steam service. Treasure president Masato Maegawa talks to Famitsu about how it all started and more.

 

Famitsu begins interview by asking about the thoughts behind the decision of releasing Ikaruga on Steam.

 

“Now that we’ve entered the new generation of consoles with PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Wii U, I thought ‘where should we go next…’ and I frankly thought ‘choosing PC would be fine too,’ explains Maegawa. “And when we thought of download distributions, Steam came to mind. I’ve always had an interest in Steam, and it’s the most widely used platform for PC players.”

 

“On the other hand, there are still some people who only play console games that might say, ‘Steam? What’s that?’ even though it’s been going on for over ten years.”

 

Famitsu asks why Treasure ended up having to go through the Greenlight process on Steam, a system that allows the players to decide on what games are sold through Steam.

 

“I actually asked an acquaintance from another company. That’s where I learned about the Greenlight process, and quickly registered. Honestly, I didn’t know the contact information of Valve, the company that runs Steam,” shares Maegawa with a laugh.

 

“I’ve had fans ask, ‘Wouldn’t a game like Ikaruga not need to go through the Greenlight process?’ but I believe that having players decide on what gets distributed is quite a nice system,” Maegawa says. “It also ended up being a good opportunity to further spread the title’s appeal, so it ended up working out fine. Basically, the reason we chose Ikaruga first is because we feel that it’s one of Treasure’s most popular games.”

 

When asked about Ikaruga’s popularity overseas, chief director Atsutomo Nakagawa says that most of Treasure’s games are quite popular. Maegawa jokingly replies by saying “Hey, don’t make it seem like they’re not popular in Japan!” to which Nakagawa further explains by saying that it’s not just the game’s titles that are well known overseas, but also that the amount of details that are known by foreign players is very impressive.

 

Next, Famitsu asks if they, as a company, would prefer to distribute games overseas as downloadable titles, rather than physical releases.

 

“It’s definitely a lot easier,” says Maegawa. “Honestly, there’s a high threshold for small companies like us to distribute physical copies these days. It’s not that we wouldn’t want to, but when we put the cost, stock, and management in consideration, we feel that it’d be too rough. It’s for this same reason that we’ve worked through Xbox Live Arcade, since they evaluate us the same way, whether we’re a small or big company.”

 

Finally, Maegawa shares his thoughts on what he personally finds appealing about Steam’s service.

 

“It’s the interface. You can simply press a button and purchase a game; so whenever there are sales, I find myself buying several titles left and right, so I’ve amassed quite the collection of games,” replies the Treasure president with a laugh. “However, I believe things like, ‘I was able to buy such a fun game with only 10 dollars!’ are part of the fun.”


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  • Shippoyasha

    Seems like the digital distribution age starts this way for more traditional physical distributed game creators of the past. I hope physical distribution doesn’t die out entirely but maybe it’s only fair for them to succeed digital distribution wise before they go physical release.

    It’s come a completely backward process than how it used to be, and honestly, this makes a ton of sense for smaller developers. Maybe the traditional physical then digital release method makes more sense for much bigger companies.

    • D H

      Y’know, they could really completely satisfy both here; release your games digitally, build popularity, and then later on release a physical set with a few of the top performers and maybe some of the lesser well-done titles.

      • Morricane

        Or physical copies becoming more a thing for collectors, the same way vinyl is being seen as nowadays…

      • TrevHead

        True it’s best to do both, especially for a PC release, when the dev can print up a few games themselves and sell them to their own fanbase.

        It’s a shame that console manufacturers don’t make it as cheap and easy on their current platforms (although MS seems ok with JPN released games in small print runs)

  • David García Abril

    “On the other hand, there are still some people who only play console games that might say, ‘Steam? What’s that?’ even though it’s been going on or over ten years.”

    Specially in Japan, where PC gaming is residual at best…

    • neocatzon

      Oh please, you underestimate Jp doujin scene.

      • CirnoLakes

        The doujin industry in Japan definitely seems healthier than ever.

        More people than ever are going to Comiket to buy doujin games. And Touhou is one of the most popular game franchises in Japan.

  • http://gentlerobot.com/ Gentle Robot

    Steam seems a lot like the MAD board game – the goal is to get rid of all your money.

  • Josué

    I hope that with this as an example, other developers like G. Rev and CAVE get on the Steam Train.

    • http://simplephilistine.wordpress.com/ Arla

      I completely agree. Hell, I hope all major Japanese devs start seriously looking at PC/Steam as a viable platform to release their games on.

    • http://mmx-engine.blogspot.com/ Game Dragon

      I’ve only recently got into DoDonPachi, but I completely agree with this.

    • neocatzon

      Part of that is Steam’s fault.

      Steam is not Moon speaker friendly (2012′s article)
      http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/177991/Steam_Japan_and_missed_opportunities.php

      Previous article in Siliconera is in 2013 and nothing changed.
      http://www.siliconera.com/2013/10/21/ikaruga-devs-fought-hand-hand-valves-contract-won/

      Salute to these devs who fight their language barrier for greenlight in Steam.

      • icecoffemix

        I imagine company who want to go international invest on their universal language’s department, just like every other game development company ever.

        • neocatzon

          If they’re a big company it’s a must. What if they’re a small company? Steam may be not in their radar at all. Self publishing on steam, it’s an unusual idea for them just like Kickstarter. They usually need publisher to release their game.
          That’s why western publisher like Valve, MG, or Carpe Fulgure have to (and already) contact them.

          They have an antiquated mindset, but this is a subject to change.

          • icecoffemix

            Umm, Investing doesn’t always mean millions of dollar, especially for, you know, translating a contract… Making game could mean that thought.

            But yeah, hope this change with recent movement of japanese game on steam.

          • Guest

            The same could be said about Steam though. They’re a big company already so why not translating their policies and contracts to common languages in the Video-game industry, or why not at least simplifying them for the non-native English-speaking developers’ sake.

          • icecoffemix

            They’re international company using international language, is English not the most common language in the world? I don’t see how it could get simpler than it and you can’t really alter contract too much as it require certain clause to be included. Also I don’t think Steam is large in Japan so why bother? They’re not running charity and supporting a country right away require planning and not inconsiderable investment.

            Now things could change and if they see that (or think for long term) Japan is a viable place they should offer more support but for this particular case it’s only natural for the other side who need to adapt.

          • neocatzon

            This situation is not a really a problem per se. But, it’s unthinkable that Steam that’s really aggressive worldwide would miss a chance of market called Japan. It’s a missed opportunity, so they should bother. If Admiral Perry never arrived at Japan, how’s Japan going to be more open to outside world :3?

      • CirnoLakes

        Yeah, Valve definitely need to work on their international support. And should be continually advised to do so.

    • David García Abril

      It would be nice, but I doubt it.

      PC gaming in Japan is still ridiculously small, and creating a PC version only for releasing the game in Western territories would be even more expensive than just localizing the game and use physical distribution.

  • Crevox

    Treasure is the best

  • Minos

    *cough*minecraft*cough*

  • easter

    No one is immune to Steam sales it seems!

    • Tinye

      I just want to share with my help-group that I have officially conquered 90% of my impulse steam sale buying…

      please.. don’t clap – We can all accomplish this in due time!

  • RazeXI

    Now this has me thinking of the plethora of visual novel games we could have gotten on Steam..that would’ve been awesome

    • http://twitter.com/matty_125 matty

      Higurashi and Narcissu 1 & 2 are coming to Steam. Go Go Nippon is still on Greenlight, so go support that.
      There are a few other VN-esque titles on there if you look.

  • UUDDLRLR BASTART

    Not even my beloved Treasure could ever hope to get me to see that platform as viable for gaming.

    • Morricane

      You’re missing out then :)

    • brostar

      PC or Steam? Because a lot of Japanese game companies started out as PC developers for Japanese computers and well PC gaming has existed since the 70′s.
      If you’re referring to Steam then I’d like to direct you to the amazing selection of indies and other great games. Plus Steam has existed for 10 years. If Steam isn’t viable then it’d be dead by now.

    • Mike Pureka

      Uh, okay? It’s pretty much just your loss at this point. It’s not perfect, but then, what game platform is?

    • wat_wat

      Your loss, bro.

  • TrevHead

    I’m glad that everything is working out for Treasure, although I still think Greenlight would be a problem for non English speaking Japanese companies that need to do extra PR to attract Greenlight votes.

    That said, as Treasure has demonstrated western fans of Japanese games would help with word of mouth if a game excites them.

  • Mike Pureka

    So, er, is this game actually OUT on Steam? I know it made it past Greenlight, but I can’t _find_ it on Steam. The article seems to imply that it’s there with “it was a surprise to many of the company’s fans to see the game released for PC via the Steam service.” but, well… where is it? Or is it only ‘authorized for release’ and not actually OUT yet?

    • Göran Isacson

      Just Greenlit, not available in the actual store yet. It’s Greenlight page states that it’s under final debugging and will be available soon, and that news dropped on the 31s January. Soo stay tuned, I think.

      • Mike Pureka

        Right; And ironically I ran into an article not longer after I posted that saying pretty much the same thing. Thanks for the info!

  • Just Tim

    I’m happy for Treasure that they’re cashing in on Steam, while simultaneously working on the obvious language barriers.

  • E.T.993

    At least I don’t have to complain about it since I have a great new PC.Yay.(I still would like to see a new Eshop game made by Treasure on Wii U,though.)

  • CirnoLakes

    Yeah, I thought the fact that there is a lot of uncertainty in Japan about the next generation of consoles might have something to do with experimenting with PC. It’s good to have your eggs in multiple baskets.

    I personally think that Steam is only going to grow and become more and more international, and PC gaming is not going to be slowed down by the new generation of consoles. However successful the PlayStation 4 has been. When the PlayStation 3 and XBOX 360 launched, PC gaming was in a difficult position. But now that the PlayStation 4 and XBOX One have launched, the PC is in a very secure place and even their success isn’t causing any decline in PC gaming at all. Also, the PlayStation 4 is a much weaker piece of hardware for its time period than the PlayStation 3 was. A high end graphics card for the PC today, will last much longer than this console generation.

    It’s a misconception that many console gamers have that PC gaming is more expensive than console gaming, and that consoles last longer and don’t become outdated as quickly as PC hardware. In fact, not only will a graphics card bought today outlast this entire console generation, but I feel that, within this console generation, there will be mobile chips more powerful than what is in the PlayStation 4.

    Furthermore, the Steam platform is going to continue to last for multiple generations into the future. While the PlayStation 4 is only one generation and there is no guarantee of backwards compatibility in the future. Investing in Steam right now is investing in the future. While investing in the PlayStation 4 or other consoles, is investing in something temporary.

    Though, I will say that Valve need to broaden their culture and try to gain more international support, and try to be a more internal friendly company. Trying to be more friendly to Japanese companies is something that they need to do.

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