MonkeyPaw and Gaijinworks’ Class of Heroes II Kickstarter campaign didn’t spark enough interest to get funded, but the game will still come out in North America as a PSP download. However, some of the features that Gaijinworks CEO, Vic Ireland, hoped to add to the English version won’t make it in and retail copies brimming with trinkets won’t be made either.
In this interview, Ireland and John Greiner, CEO of MonkeyPaw Games, talk about their future plans, digital PS2 imports, and a tiny bit about Goemon, which is localized, but lacks a publisher.
Since the Kickstarter campaign failed, what kind of localization can we expect? Items like extra save slots, enhancements, and an English song were mentioned earlier. Will we see any of these features?
Victor Ireland, CEO of Gaijinworks: We’re going to try to give the game the best localization we can given what we have to work with. There will be some improvements, but nothing like what we had planned with the Kickstarter funding. Many of the ideas for improvements that we had before that will be too time consuming or expensive to implement we have to forget about, but the ones that we can do without a lot of cost we’re going to try to do.
Is Gaijinworks and MonkeyPaw eyeing the new Class of Heroes title, Chrono Academy, as a future pickup?
John Greiner, CEO of MonkeyPaw Games: We first want to see how Class of Heroes 2 performs. We are taking an estimated gamble with a game in which the first title was not well marketed or received. It shows we firmly believe in the second game.
We know our fans will appreciate where Acquire takes the sequel and the series, not to mention Chrono Academy. So we hope to be successful and produce an excellent localization to an already excellent game.
What has Japan’s reaction been to the Kickstarter campaign now that it’s complete? How has the JRPG audience evolved from your days at Working Designs to now?
JG: The Japan reaction has been muted. It would have been the talk of industry had it funded. In my opinion, the first title that succeeds in crowd funding will open the floodgates just as it has done in America. And then those gates will close and the phenomenon will be over.
VC: There’s definitely a smaller active JRPG fanbase now than when Working Designs was around, but I’d like to think that was due to a combination of that fanbase aging into grownup lives with less time for it and the game industry not handling the transition well of the next generation of fans that came up.
I think we can help reclaim that base and help grow it again. Of course, we need content from Japan to localize, but despite what’s been released in the US, there’s still a decent amount of product still stranded in Japan that would really appeal to JRPG gamers. We want to get that over here. We have to have a long-term vision to grow the base, and that’s one reason why we’re sticking with CoH II despite the lack of Kickstarter funding—we believe in the game and the series, and think that fans will, too, once they have a chance to play.
Can you tell us what’s going on with Goemon? How are discussions going to bring it over as a future project as digital downloads on PSN?
JG: There is no news on Goemon unfortunately. You can imagine how difficult those licensing conversations are to raise in times where digital downloads are still a fraction of large publisher’s revenue. So there will come a time when tables turn; it’s just not yet.
VI: I love Goemon. The hope to get it over here one day will never die.
MonkeyPaw brought over a bunch of un-translated PsOne classics from Japan. Are you looking at publishing PS2 imports? Maybe even English localized titles like Sword of Etheria (Oz from Konami) or D3’s translated Simple Series games like the Onechanbara titles?
JG: We have created a niche where we can bring some unique Japanese games that were lost in the gold rush days of the console wars. I think Japanese companies like the fact that we are a US company that can position their games with effective local marketing. By creating an Import destination on the PlayStation Network, fans know they can get odd and original games from Japan and backed by our guides and support.
We don’t have a long list of PS2 imports yet, but those have been on our radar. Konami and of course Hudson have so much great stock to offer, not to mention Square. I think as more companies bring back older licenses (most recently Activision and Diablo III—yet another dungeon crawler like Class of Heroes 2), you’ll start to see the original digital releases from all publishers. Fans want it and the releases help build recognition for the brand and the company.