Doujin Games, Localization And Crowdfunding: An Introduction To Playism

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Localization firm, Active Gaming Media, are establishing an indie game funding, localization and publishing service, dubbed “Playism,” which launched in Japan this week. You can read more about the service in our report of its launch.


While Playism currently only offers PC indie games localized into Japanese, in the future, it will also feature doujin games translated into English, and will allow for indie publishers to make use of crowdfunding and allow for negotiable localization contracts.


We got in touch with Active Gaming Media to ask a few quick questions about surface-level details on some of the specifics of these services, such as localization, platforms and the crowdfunding aspect. Planning Director, Daniel Levine, graciously answered our questions:


For the moment, you only have PC titles for “sale” on the service. Do you offer your localization/distribution services for console games through Playism in any manner as well?


Planning Director, Daniel Levine: At the moment we don’t, though you could say that it is possible via our funding feature: for example, if a developer needed funds for the localization they could list that as a project on our site and try to raise the money that way. AGM (our company) of course could be directly contacted for localizations, though it wouldn’t be a Playism localization per se. The future is, of course, wide open and if we could find a way to make Playism localizations for other platforms a part of what we do then we’d be all for it.


Playism is currently focused on distribution of overseas indie games in Japan, but will this work the other way around as well? (Releasing doujin games overseas through Playism)


Yes, absolutely. The one catch being that the games have to both fit with the concept of our site (simple, original ideas that lead to compelling, interesting works), as well as meet a high standard in terms of gameplay polish. We’ve come across a number of interesting doujin games that we would love to bring out in English, but at the same time we’ve seen plenty that clearly would not be a good fit.


The challenge for us now is to seek out the ones that work perfectly with what we are doing, while also working with creators in Japan who may not have yet thought to develop games in this way.


The press release states that AGM is “providing localization of games and projects featured on Playism at minimal cost or no cost to developers” — could you elaborate on this a little more?


The no cost localization comes with a promise of exclusivity in Japan for a agreed upon time frame, which is different for each contract but not long-term. Of course, every relationship and every situation is different and depending upon the work involved we’re always open to negotiating something that can benefit everyone involved –everyone being the developer, the user, the game itself, and us.


The crowdfunding aspect — I notice the price is in yen for the moment. Are those contributions from Japanese folks, or can people from all over the world contribute funds? (currently, I mean)


Indeed, it is in yen, but we’re using PayPal to do the fund-raising, which automatically exchanges other currencies into yen — I tried with my US credit card and it did for me anyway! So, theoretically people from anywhere in the world should be able to donate.


On a side, we’re actually running a special crowdfunding project titled PLAYism FOR JAPAN to raise funds for disaster relief here in Japan, though at the moment we’re considering partnering with an NPO on this; we’re a business and still have to pay service fees to PayPal for donations to the project even though all of the money raised from PLAYism FOR JAPAN is going to the Red Cross.


If we had NPO sponsorship we might be able to get the full 100% donated -just another challenge to tackle, though if you know of anyone interested, or if your readers did we’d be open to suggestions!


Developers interested in getting in touch with Active Gaming Media to discuss Playism game distribution or project funding can do so at: [email protected].

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Ishaan Sahdev
Ishaan specializes in game design/sales analysis. He's the former managing editor of Siliconera and wrote the book "The Legend of Zelda - A Complete Development History". He also used to moonlight as a professional manga editor. These days, his day job has nothing to do with games, but the two inform each other nonetheless.