In May of this year, Japan based publisher Marvelous, best known for its work on the Harvest Moon
series, announced that it would be partnering with
LA-based XSeed to establish a co-publishing presence in the U.S., starting with PSP RPG Valhalla Knights 2
XSeed is now owned by Japanese company AQ Interactive, and consists of Square Enix veterans - XSeed's published titles including Wild Arms 5
and Shadow Hearts: From the New World
in North America.
Following the agreement, the two studios also announced
that they would be bringing Marvelous' Wii-exclusive action/RPG Little King Story
to the U.S. for the holiday season.
To find out more about Marvelous's future plans for the states, Gamasutra talked with Harvest Moon
creator and Marvelous managing director Yasuhiro Wada.
The executive explained that the company's entrance into the North American market was made only after studying a similar move into Europe, and promised more Wii and DS announcements in the near future.
How did Marvelous wind up getting together with XSeed? What does this deal cover? Publishing, or simply distribution?
The international business strategy for Marvelous was to first succeed in the European market, which other Japanese publishers have not really focused on. Many past Japanese publishers have failed to gain ground in the European market.
We thought that it would be difficult for us to do business there alone, so we cooperated with a local corporation and founded Rising Star Games, and got some results.
And in the planning stages of the strategies for North America, like with the European market, we decided that it would be crucial to find a co-operating local company so that we may operate to our mutual benefit.
During the 2-year preparation phase, we consulted with numerous corporations, but out of all those, XSeed had the best balance of business scale, attitude towards the content, and the ease of communication for us.
Our contract states that publishing will be done by Marvelous while distribution will be taken care of by XSeed. Excluding the managing operations, most of the local publishing works will be done by XSeed staff.
Who is running the current MMV U.S. operations, and how large is the staff? How much will it grow over time, and what is your timeframe for that?
[Executive vice president & COO] Takeshi Inoue has been managing it since June. As a stationed staff member, he is currently there alone, but within 3 to 5 years, we expect to expand it to a staff count of about 10 people.
What sort of games will Marvelous be releasing in the U.S.? Localized Marvelous games? Localized Japanese games from other developers/publishers? Will MMV be funding developers in the U.S. as well?
Our main focus will be Marvelous games but we are planning to publish some other titles from other companies as well.
Also, we will be developing titles on all platforms with a focus on Wii and the DS and will be announcing them accordingly. We currently have no plans to develop games with American companies but I believe that it is a possibility in the future.
Why did Marvelous think this was the time to get into the U.S. Market?
The original goal of Marvelous was to succeed in the world market, and like I said, the North American market is extremely large but competition is brutal, making it difficult for us to enter in the race with our current resources.
Thus we decided to start by trying to enter into the European market first. We are trying to build a similar business model to enter North America. The planning stages took a while bringing us to our current timeframe.
What do you think of the future for localized Japanese content in the U.S.? Has the taste of the U.S. market shifted in your opinion?
I believe that regular Japanese titles are still a minority in the American market, but seeing how Mario
are also made in Japan, there is always a good chance that Japanese titles can be widely accepted in America.
Also, thanks to the success of the DS and Wii, even if Marvelous cannot compete in terms of technological aspects with the American studios, we can be creative and design games in a way that can stand up to the bigger studios.
Though it may take many years from now, Marvelous will be working hard to bring out a hit title that can sell over 1 million copies in the North American market.