The business of bringing Western games to Japan is growing with companies like Spike Chunsoft, Konami, Cyberfront, and even Square Enix handling Activision’s games in Japan. Most of the work done for console titles like Dragon Age, Dead Island or Call of Duty is purely localization work. It’s similar to bringing over a Final Fantasy game or Rune Factory title here where a Western division translates, localizes, and handles voice acting.
Adways.it and Mutations Studio has a different approach focused on culturalization. They picked up Burn the Rope from Canadian developer Big Blue Bubble and published in Japan with new artwork.
"The original game has to have something that already appeals to the local Japanese market. We want to maintain that, but we might have to make some changes to make it appeal to the Japanese market," said Keiji Fujita, Vice President of Adways Interactive. "For non-Japanese people, they aren’t familiar with Japanese culture or the needs or preferences of the market. We aren’t just localizing games. We’re culturalizing games for the Japanese market."
"Character graphics and the art style is a big point. Instead of realistic characters, Japanese people prefer small and cute characters," Hiromi Watanabe, Localization Coordinator." Adways handles the new art design and culturalization work in house. Fujita explained to Siliconera that they didn’t change the game design of Burn the Rope at all, but added new graphics to make it appeal better to the local market. For other titles, Adways and Mutations Studio are willing to tweak games so they can monetize better in Japan and handle community management.
The Japanese version of Burn the Rope is available now and Adways plans to repeat this strategy by licensing more Western developed mobile games for the Japanese market.