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Square Enix's Wada: Territory-Specific IP Creation Important To Worldwide Success
Square Enix's Wada: Territory-Specific IP Creation Important To Worldwide Success
June 12, 2009 | By Staff, Christian Nutt

June 12, 2009 | By Staff, Christian Nutt
More: Console/PC

Talking to Gamasutra, Square Enix CEO Yoichi Wada has been discussing the problems of making universally popular video game IP, noting that "forcibly making" a game to work worldwide and "degrading the quality" isn't worth doing.

In the course of a larger conversation with Wada and Eidos head Phil Rogers on Square Enix's acquisition of the Tomb Raider publisher, we asked Wada how it's possible to create game IP that works worldwide.

The interviewer noted that "there really aren't many games that really do sell well in all three major global territories", and asked about Wada's approach to having a successful worldwide game business.

"We're not considering that one certain title is going to be sold on a worldwide basis in all of the territories.

For example, there might be one title that we're going to be giving to two of the territories, and another title that we'll be giving to one of the territories; one that would only cater to one particular territory.

But as long as there is going to be a well balanced portfolio as a company, it's going to be fine, because if we tried to forcibly make a certain title work worldwide, and if that's going to be degrading the quality, we don't want to go down that path."

Continuing with his explanation, the Square Enix head noted that it may be better to focus efforts into popular region-specific titles with the advantage of local cultural knowledge:

"But rather than that, even if that certain title only ever worked for two out of the three major territories, but still it is going to be selling deeply and thoroughly, then I believe that is going to be the better path to take.

And in order for that to happen, there needs to be a deep-rooted understanding of the culture of the particular culture of the particular country -- and Eidos and Square Enix both have 20 years of history that's residing in that particular country, so we are native in that particular area that we grew up in.

If [a company] is going to be an office, only an office, that is going to be operating in a different territory, then that will still be a foreign entity, and it will not work.

But I think that the strength that we have is that we are both in the native in that particular area, and it's a good combination in that sense."

The full interview with the Square Enix and Eidos heads, discussing a multitude of issues relating to the Japanese firm's move to worldwide expansion with the Eidos acquisitions, is now available to read on Gamasutra.

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An Dang
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Wasn't Last Remnant an attempt at trying to appeal world wide? Or was that only for the western market?

Don Langosta
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I think you're right, An Dang. It was either Last Remnant or Lost Odyssey.

I understand building a story for a culture but surely tastes can't be so different that he'd lose money by localizing a Japanese game to America and vice versa. He of all people should know that there's a large demographic of Americans who are familiar enough with Japanese culture to appreciate Japanese themes.

Except the theme of having a 15-year-old save the universe in a weekend while all the washed up 25+ year olds stand around paralyzed by depression and self-doubt. That theme's already totally universal. :P

Alex Chiang
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Anyone think it's strange that it's Wada saying this? I was under the impression that Final Fantasy sold globally, without any "degradation in quality". :)

Thomas Detko
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@Don Langosta

YOu said

"He of all people should know that there's a large demographic of Americans who are familiar enough with Japanese culture to appreciate Japanese themes"

This is completely untrue. The demographic of Americans who are familiar with real Japanese culture, the kind cutting edge games and social media aps and any forward thinking development are concerned with, is tiny and made up of people from Japan... if you recall from an earlier article hear on GS, a simple example would be the unique language spoken by 10-15 year old girls using texting and online forums. You may be able to find similarities with North American audiences but there is no way you can market a game designed to use this to NA audiences. People often make mistakes thinking that anime and a handful of YouTube videos pass for understanding Japanese culture.. far from it. As someone like Yoichi Wada would obviously know (and does).

Thomas Detko
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An better way to say it might be that NA audiences would completely fail to recognize the conventions that are unique to Japanese culture when it comes to story. Everything we get here that is consumed on a large scale is usually butchered into some form that NA audiences will understand, and rarely if ever retain enough meaning to be anything more than fluff. Compare the amount of Japanese cultural exports we have adapted here over the last 25 years to the amount consumed in Japan. Its microscopic.