Bandai Namco’s booth may not have had the Tales of Zestiria I was dying to play at the PlayStation Experience, but I was able to find Nick O’Leary, the Senior Public Relations Specialist there.
One thing I’ve been wondering about over the last few years is why all of a sudden Bandai Namco is being so adventurous about their games. Look at the catalog. We’re getting Tales, Sword Art Online, Project X Zone, and so many other games that the company normally wouldn’t have bothered localizing. It’s as though it’s going above and beyond to make the general gaming environment better.
When I asked O’Leary about the situation, he said, “Nothing has changed internally. We’ve heard from the fans over the past couple years, that they want these games, and we took a chance. We’ll bring these games to you and see what the result is.”
It obviously paid off. “Tales of Xillia was the second-highest Tales game in sales, bigger than Symphonia 10 years ago,” he shared. O’Leary also confirmed that Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment sales were “above forecast expectations.”
He even had an answer for why this is suddenly happening. “The great thing now, in today’s gaming climate, is we can do different things. It doesn’t have to be retail. There’s digital. A smaller game like One Piece: Pirate Warriors 2, we can say, “Put it on PSN.” People can play it. If we want, we can do a limited run if people want it.”
With that kind of opening, I had to ask about two of my favorite, Bandai Namco series. I needed to know what could happen with Idolmaster and Taiko no Tatsujin. While O’Leary didn’t have anything to say on the latter, he definitely recognized the former. “I’ve played all those Idolmaster games. There are always talks if we should do it or not. Nothing has been announced yet for that series. But, a few years ago, if you asked me if Project X Zone was going to come here, I’d have said, ‘No.’ So, you can never say never.”
Before moving on, I had to ask about one of the unexpected stars of the booth – Dragon Ball Xenoverse. I was surprised to see that the game always had people playing and waiting, and didn’t have a chance to play it at the PlayStation Experience as a result. Which is no surprise. As O’Leary said, “Dragon Ball is a really special franchise. It’s been off the air for so long, but it’s more popular now than ever. Fans love it and for Xenoverse, the great thing we’re doing for this is we’re changing the script on the fights and stories that you know from the Dragon Ball universe. Tasks aren’t playing out the way they’re supposed to and you’re coming in to fix things.”
As a Bandai Namco fan, I’d keep an eye on the company over the next few years. It really feels like staff is listening to what fans have to say and, with all the distribution options available, we could end up seeing more unexpected games.