Edge has a great interview up with Yasuhiro Wada, president of Marvelous. He covers some interesting ground and makes some great points, the first being about sales of MMV’s games.
Edge: Some of Marvelous’ latest titles had positive reviews worldwide but this did not translate into sales. What are the reasons of this? Do you think the choice of the Wii as a gamer platform is one key element?
Yasuhiro Wada: We are yet to gain the brand value of companies like Nintendo, Capcom or Square Enix. Even if you don’t fully understand what a title is about, because it’s branded Nintendo, Capcom or Square Enix, you feel like ok to buy and try it. A Marvelous game has yet to gain such recognition and trust from users. Now, if you consider the big but very light population of casual users, they don’t know about Marvelous at all. This population is by far the majority on the Wii. So in that sense, you could indeed think the Wii factor is working against us. But at the same time, if you consider games like Umbrella Chronicles, Biohazard 4 or a Tales Of RPG on the same Wii, you find that those games sell more than 200,000 or 300,000 copies.
Interestingly, Wada mentions that the general reaction from the Japanese public to the famous MMV sales blog post was “quite negative,” as they didn’t deem it appropriate behaviour for a person of his position. Sigh, Japan. Don’t worry, Wada-san — the rest of us still love you.
Now that we’ve gotten crappy sales talk out of the way, let’s all take a moment to cheer Wada on for his love and support of 2D games:
Take the example of the 2D graphics which are at the core of Muramasa. I don’t think many companies are still interested in developing such title based on high quality 2D graphics. You would find all the game using 3D graphics. But there are qualities that are unique to 2D like the level of details, colors, etc… Also, should the market be exclusively about 3D graphics, then some who are very talented in 2D would not feel the need for them to get involved in the industry. This would indeed impact on the industry’s creative ability overall.
That’s probably the smartest stance I’ve seen anyone take on both those subjects, and it’s a reason I’m glad publishers like Marvelous and Level-5 exist. Wada makes a great point when he says talented 2D studios need a reason to be part of the industry. For example, without Level-5, Studio Ghibli would probably not have made the move into videogames for another few years, if at all.
As an aside, does anyone feel Marvelous not publishing No More Heroes in the U.S. was a mistake? Sure, it’s not a game that caters to the casual audience, but given its popularity, having their name on the box certainly would have put them on the radar of more mainstream gamers who liked it.