Back in May, Marvelous AQL announced that their localization subsidiary XSEED had acquired Atlus Online from Index Digital Media and is now effectively functioning as Marvelous’ USA branch.
While the Marvelous Online portion of the company is going to be focused on online games such as MMORPGs and FPSes, XSEED will remain relatively unchanged, the company’s Executive Vice-President Ken Berry shared with us in a recent interview.
Berry also touched upon XSEED’s recent and upcoming games, and you can read our brief interview with him below.
How does being Marvelous USA affect XSEED’s day-to-day operations and your responsibilities? Does it affect anything?
It really doesn’t affect XSEED Games too much as we are still the same XSEED console team here, just our business cards now have a Marvelous logo added to them, and we have a couple sister offices close by handing mobile and online PC gaming.
Now that you officially represent Marvelous in the U.S., are Marvelous AQL going to be looking for more feedback from Western players while developing their games?
Yes, because MarvelousAQL is really eager to expand their presence in the Western market. One of the things we’re doing in the near term to cater to Western players is adding online support to Valhalla Knights 3.
In Japan it released with only ad-hoc 2-player versus mode, but we knew with the population in North America being much more spread out, as well as the still growing penetration rate of the Vita hardware, that if we wanted Western gamers to really enjoy the versus feature that online connectivity had to be added.
Will we be seeing Marvelous games come out quicker in the West? Are those now considered higher priority than the other things you work on, or are you free to decide by yourselves? Who calls the shots as to when something gets localized?
There is a chance that some Marvelous games will come out quicker if we start localizing them before they are even released in Japan, but we still have to consider what’s best for the group and not just Marvelous USA. We discuss with Japan as to whether we should publish something ourselves or if they should license it out to another publisher, and sometimes we decide together that another publisher handling the North American duties will be the best course of action for that title. Muramasa on Vita being handled by Aksys would be a good example of this.
You’ve been picking up a fair number of major games of late. Killer is Dead is the latest one. How did you end up negotiating that with Kadokawa Games?
That was completely negotiated by our new president that joined us last year, Suzuki-san. He had been keeping track of the title since his ATLUS days, and signing it to XSEED was one of the first missions he had when he joined us.
Localization work for Killer is Dead seems like a pretty major undertaking. There’s a lot of voiced dialogue, and you announced U.S. release plans very quickly after the game was revealed. Has the localization process for it been any different than usual?
It was different in that Kadokawa Games handled most of the English localization, including the recording of the English voices. Rather than having to do everything ourselves localization-wise, it’s been nice to just worry about fine-tuning the English that’s already in there.
I’m afraid to ask—how has Pandora’s Tower done for you so far?
Pandora’s Tower has done pretty well, though not quite the level that The Last Story enjoyed. It probably could have done much better if we could have released it last holiday season rather than the first quarter of this year.
XSEED is also a PC publisher now. You’ve got three Ys games up on Steam. How are they doing relative to expectations so far? Do you think PC is a market you’re interested in investigating further?
They have done great on Steam, and hopefully that introduced a lot of new people to the Ys series so that they will want to check out the latest offering on PS Vita when it comes out later this year. They’ve surpassed our expectations, and we are definitely looking to bring more titles to PC.
A U.K. publisher named Ghostlight recently announced that they’re going to be bringing certain JRPGs to PC. Do you think that’s something you would be interested in doing as well?
We are absolutely interested in bringing more titles, especially JRPGs, to PC. We are doing what we can to make it happen, so hopefully we will have an announcement within the next month or so.
You’ve been slow to do things on 3DS. Are you having trouble finding games that you want to or can, realistically, license on that platform? It looks like more Japanese developers are taking to the idea of self-publishing their games on eShop, and the bigger games are being scooped up by larger publishers.
As you stated, it’s an issue of having the right “bigger games” on 3DS if you want a physical release because getting the backing of retailers on that platform can be difficult. Luckily, Rune Factory 4 is a big enough title that we feel very comfortable about releasing it as a physical product, but other 3DS titles that we’ve been looking at so far would likely be eShop-only releases.
Do you think the Vita represents a better opportunity for you guys? A lot of Vita releases fall into the category of obscure games. You also have Falcom working on Vita versions of their games. Is that a more competitive space for you?
We absolutely love the Vita, not only because it’s a very slick piece of hardware, but we know the core gamers that we cater to were the first to buy into that platform. Similar to the PSP before it, the Japanese developers are putting out some great RPGs for Vita, which plays exactly into the kind of games that we like to work on.
List your major releases for this year, starting with the highest sales potential and going lower, just to give fans an idea of what falls where on the sales ladder.
It would probably go along the lines of Killer is Dead, Rune Factory 4, Ys: Memories of Celceta and Valhalla Knights 3 for our physical releases through the rest of this calendar year, but we will definitely have some additional announcements in store for digital-only releases.
We know more or less your entire release slate for this year. Give us an idea of what we can expect in 2014. Is there something you can tease?
To be honest, I wish I knew because we are still looking to fill our lineup. We are looking at a PS4 title along with some PS3 stuff, as well as more stuff on PS Vita, 3DS and PC. We could have 3 titles or we could have 12, that’s the tough thing about relying on licensing to secure most of your games—you could go on a severe dry spell, or it could rain games as every single licensing offer we put out could all be accepted at once.
Look out for some fun announcements from Xseed in the future.