Natsume picked up the rights to Afrika, a PlayStation 3 wildlife photography game announced when the PS3 made its debut. Afrika will finally come out in North America this August, one year after it was released in Japan.
Great to see Afrika stampeding stateside. You know, there is another story behind its release. The link between Natsume, Afrika, and Sony Computer Entertainment Japan is a hungry fish!
Afrika was released in Asia with an English translation. Is Natsume using that for the English release?
Graham Markay, Vice President of Operations: As the core foundation, yes. Afrika carries three licenses and it’s going to carry three licenses in the US which are National Geographic, Sony cameras, and Suzuki automobiles. Those three licenses are in the game so National Geographic was involved with the Japanese and Asian release.
A lot of the database information comes from National Geographic, live video, and live shots. You have to go through the National Geographic process and work with National Geographic.
We’re just tweaking lines here and there. Were trying to make a few modifications to the game to fit the US market better.
That was going to be my next question! What kind of modifications are you making?
First and foremost there is going to be a trophy system, which wasn’t in the Asian release or Japanese release. There have been other suggestions from us and other parties. So, we’ve been working with Rhino Soft and Sony now to tweak it. Obviously, that’s not the final version out there so we’re trying to see what we can do to help make it a touch better.
How come you didn’t call it Hakuna Matata?
I don’t want to upset Disney! [laughs]
As soon as it came into us we thought should we change the name? Should we go for it? There was a lot of press behind it, 2006 TGS when Sony was promoting it. It was right there with the PS3 launch, Sony was showing it, there was a lot of press with Afrika. Afrika was the name so why get rid of that install base and the known fact of what that is? So we called it Afrika.
It also fits too. Afrika is straight to the point other, than they spelled the name wrong, but that’s the way it’s supposed be spelt in this particular game.
How did you get the rights to it? I thought at one point National Geographic was publishing this on their own?
You know we were never involved from Afrika on day one when it was released and that sort of bidding thing. We have a relationship with Sony Japan. You might remember Finny the Fish? That game was done by Sony Japan. So we licensed that game from them. We have a little bit of a history with their licensing department in Japan.
It just so happens that one day we received an e-mail — I don’t know about the backstory, but I heard different things that National Geographic was doing it, this and that — Hiro [ed’s note: the President of Natsume USA] received an e-mail from Japan saying, “you know what we got a PS3 game would you be interested in it?” Granted, they were probably farming it out and showing it to other people too.
It really fits with the Natsume theme. That is it’s non-violent, it’s in nature, you know animals, being one with nature, you’re taking pictures and not running around with a shotgun or a baseball bat. So it fits in the encompassing umbrella of what Natsume stands behind. Long answer short, it went from there and we got it.