While you may know him as the producer of Street Fighter IV, Yoshinori Ono plays a much larger role at Capcom. His official position at the company is “Online Game Development Manager.” This means he’s effectively in charge of multiplayer-focused titles like Monster Hunter Frontier on the PC and Xbox 360.
Unlike traditional Monster Hunter games, which tend to focus on a cooperative effort between 2 – 4 players, Frontier is more of a massively multiplayer game like World of WarCraft, where you play with millions of other people in a consistent world.
In an internally-conducted Capcom interview, Ono talks about the nature of online games and how it’s important to finetune and balance them so that players find them enjoyable and keep coming back for more, rather than end up frustrated. One aspect of this involves accounting for cultural differences.
Monster Hunter Frontier is presently available for play in Japan, Taiwan and Korea. However, players outside of Japan aren’t allowed to connect to the game’s main server. You might think this is solely due to the difference in language, but Ono says that it’s about culture, too.
“We intentionally made MHF only available to people in Japan,” Ono reveals. “While it may seem that vast number of potential players outside Japan would lead to greater profits, each nation has its own culture, which can create friction between individuals from different countries.”
Ono believes that the attractiveness of an online game is determined by the relationships and friendships built within its online community. “We don’t want to give players a stressful experience when they are supposed to be having fun,” he concluded.
Of course, this doesn’t mean Capcom aren’t looking at other markets. Ono reveals that markets like Shanghai (with a potential audience of 150 million people) or Beijing, Guangdong, and Dalian are all under consideration and that Capcom are developing games suited for those audiences.