By Spencer . February 6, 2014 . 5:30pm
Idea Factory established a base in the West and former NIS America president Haru Akenaga is leading the division. However, since other publishers are releasing games from the Hyperdimension Neptunia and Hakuoki series where does that leave Idea Factory International? We spoke with Mr. Akenaga about the company’s plans and why they picked Monster Monpiece as their first title to localize.
How did Idea Factory International start? Can you tell us why you wanted to form this company and what are your goals?
Haru Akenaga, CEO: We knew there are many Idea Factory fans outside of Japan. And we were well aware that these fans are not just interested in games released in North America and Europe, but also in titles that only get released in Japan. So we wanted to create a place where we could provide any and all news relating to the Idea Factory brand, both in Japan and from third party publishers in North America and Europe, to fans worldwide in a timely manner.
One of our goals is to provide a place for fans to obtain all news about Idea Factory titles in Japan and third party licensed titles in North America and Europe. But Idea Factory International has also announced its first self-published title for these regions, and we would like to keep bringing more Idea Factory titles to the Western market via third party companies and ourselves. Idea Factory International would, slowly but surely, like to try to bring titles that fans demand to North America and Europe.
There are other publishers in the USA and Europe licensing Idea Factory and Compile Heart’s games. Where does Idea Factory International fit in?
The third parties we have worked with in North America and Europe have been great for spreading the Idea Factory brand worldwide, and we will continue to work with them to achieve that. Idea Factory International is motivated to become something like an information hub for our fans, and to keep bringing titles to fans in North America and Europe via third parties and ourselves.
Will Idea Factory International localize or publish games from other developers? What about internal development?
We do not have any plans to publish other developers’ titles at Idea Factory International. We are currently putting all our efforts into making a better and stronger community for the Idea Factory brand by bringing more Idea Factory/Compile Heart titles to the western market, and we will continue to do so. If we are to publish any other developer’s title, it would be when we have received a massive amount of requests from fans.
Regarding internal development at Idea Factory International, we just opened the company a few months ago. Despite people’s perceptions, it only consists of a few people at the moment. The idea of internal development seems really attractive and exciting, but we have a long way to go before we will be able to build a team to develop a title here.
Monster Monpiece is the first game from Idea Factory International? Why did you pick this title?
Yes, you are correct. Monster Monpiece is the very first title being offered by Idea Factory International. We selected this title because we heard many fan requests for it. Fortunately, Monster Monpiece hadn’t been licensed to any third party publishers, so even if we had to make some modifications to the title (replacing in-game images), we decided to give it a surprise release for fans in Western regions.
Can you tell us more about the game? What has changed from the Japanese version?
Monster Monpiece is a card battle game featuring light RPG elements, a simple yet tactical card battle system, and numerous illustrators’ Monster Girl designs to collect. In order to power up your cards, you will use the level-up systems called “First Crush Rub” and “Extreme Love,” where you rub, poke, touch, and so forth, the selected Monster Girl card using your Vita’s touch functions (front touchscreen and rear touchpad). What we have changed in the US and EU versions are some of the images used in higher level Monster Girl cards. Basically, each of the selected images have been replaced with the same design’s corresponding lower-level card image. Neither the mechanics of the game nor the gameplay have been changed at all from the original Japanese version. Even with the replaced card images, the player will still gain the same effects and skills as the Monster Girl cards level up.
Are you looking at the second game in the Monster series, Moero Chronicle, as a possible release?
We are interested in the second installment of the Monster series. However, we will have to see how fans perceive and accept Monster Monpiece in this market.
What about Fairy Fencer F? That looks like an interesting title and it certainly has a lot of talent behind it.
Fairy Fencer F was received well in Japan, also. We’ve heard lots and lots of requests from fans. At this moment, we have no plans to release this title. However, I can say that fans’ voices have been heard and listened to. We always appreciate their suggestions and feedback, so please keep them coming—both good and bad!
Idea Factory has dozens and dozens of Otome games. Aksys brought some of them over, but there are tons more that could come out. I think this genre is just finding its space and has room to grow. Have you thought about any of those series like Amnesia?
I have the same view regarding the Otome game market in North America and Europe. We have heard many fans express how much they would like to have Amnesia localized, as well. But again, we have no definitive plans for it at this moment. That said, we hope to be able to share some great gaming news in the near future!
How do you view the Western market now with all of the new consoles on the market?
Having all the new consoles on the market is very exciting, and they are also very engaging devices. I personally believe that the best way to enjoy videogames is on consoles. However, considering customer needs and the videogame business, it becomes clear that the PC, smart phones, and tablets are all important and vital platforms, as well. That being said, we might never see another console or handheld system dominate the entire market like what happened with the PS2, the Wii, and the DS. Instead of one device dominating the market, many platforms and consoles that answer the various demands and needs of users already exist in the current market, so I feel the videogame industry will only become more exciting. As for Idea Factory International, we would like to publish titles on consoles that fans demand and hope to have.
Thank you very much for your support, as always. And thank you for giving us the opportunity to talk about Monster Monpiece, along with everything else!