Bandai Namco recently released SoulCaibur: Lost Swords, a free-to-play, singleplayer Soulcalibur game for PlayStation 3. Siliconera caught up with producer Masaaki Hoshino to ask him a few questions about the title, including why Namco chose to pursue a strictly singleplayer game.
Can you tell us a little bit about Lost Swords?
Masaaki Hoshino, Producer: So SoulCalibur: Lost Swords will be the first in the franchise to be a free-to-play model. Unlike previous installments of the franchise, this time around, we’re looking at a single-player experience where it’s built around customization and really molding the character to fit your play style.
Why was it decided that Lost Swords would be singleplayer only?
The reason that we went singleplayer…well, originally, we were thinking about having a multiplayer option, but because we’re going with a pay-to-win model, we were worried that by having online multiplayer, for all the new users that would be coming in experiencing the game for the first time, they might be immediately deterred by fighting against opponents who had superior equipment and gear—and we didn’t want to have that kind of negative impact on new players.
In the singleplayer experience, having a pay-to-win structure won’t impede the player’s experience with the game.
With SoulCalibur: Lost Swords, who are you trying to target? Traditional SoulCalibur fans or brand new players?
It might be a little bit of a cop-out answer, but we are trying to target everyone—old fans and new players alike. We definitely value our player base and we want to maintain the quality of the SoulCalibur franchise, but at the same time, this game is definitely catered towards an audience who will experience the franchise for the first time.
How many characters can we expect to see in SoulCalibur: Lost Swords?
In terms of when you first boot up the game, you’ll have access to three main characters: Sophitia, Siegfried, and Mitsurugi. Already, you can tell that Sophitia is a character from IV, so we will have returning characters. In addition to the three main characters, we’re going to definitely have other returning characters available through limited time events.
Just to go into a bit more detail, we’ve actually been having different polls from Nico Nico Douga, and through those polls, we found that Amy was actually the most popular—so we’re looking into possibly bringing her in as well.
Now that you mention character give aways, SoulCalibur is known for its guest characters. Are there any plans to include any surprise characters in Lost Swords?
Personally, I would love to see something like that happen, but currently it’s still undetermined.
About how long can people expect to play through the entire story? Is it possible to switch characters on a whim?
In terms of gameplay, because it’s a free-to-play game, we plan on hosting as many events as possible and keep spicing up the game play so that they can keep playing it and enjoy something new.
Is Lost Swords just a starting point for more mobile SoulCalibur titles, or is this sort of a one-trick pony?
The original SoulCalibur was pushed onto mobile, so we’re definitely looking at potential for that avenue as well, but right now, we’re really just focused on Lost Swords.
Can you talk about the difference between western and eastern free-to-play or mobile markets?
In regards to moving to free-to-play, in regards to the user base, the Japanese audience is very cooperative, and we’re very happy about that. The reason for going free-to-play wasn’t so much about the business model itself, but the idea that we wanted to expand the market to the more casual user, and we thought that the free-to-play mold would fit that model better.
Any closing comments?
Because this time around it is a singleplayer experience, we’re trying to make it more user-friendly, more exhillerating. You’ll find that even by button mashing sometimes, you may discover a brand new combo you might not have encountered before. We really want users to come and try it out, and for it to be a great experience for everyone.
SoulCalibur: Lost Swords is available on PlayStation 3.