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Feeling The Elite Beat: Keiichi Yano On Crossing Over
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Feeling The Elite Beat: Keiichi Yano On Crossing Over

September 14, 2007 Article Start Previous Page 3 of 4 Next

Another thing that's interesting about your development is that Ouendan came out in Japan, and it didn't perform particularly well, let's be honest. But it got a lot of notice from the tastemakers in America, because it had a lot of interesting qualities. Thanks to that, it evolved into Elite Beat Agents, and then that sort of evolved back into Ouendan 2. It raised its profile across sequels. That's a unique scenario, in which there's one series that's got multiple entries that are territory-specific and it keeps going a little bit better as the process evolves.

KY: Well, when we first created Ouendan, we wanted to do something different with the music genre that people can relate to maybe a little bit more. When we first got the idea, I didn't even think about releasing the game in the States, obviously. And you're right -- the first batch didn't do that great. But the same thing I guess happened in Japan. A lot of the opinion leaders picked it up and spread the word for us.

Obviously, that can only go so far, but as we started doing Elite Beat Agents and Ouendan 2, it was interesting. We sat down with Nintendo and knew that we had to create another universe for [Elite Beat Agents], otherwise we have no chance. But yeah, we did that, and that was just the natural progression of wanting to bring the series and that game system over here. There's not really anything more to say than that.

What's interesting is that a lot of things that we did for Elite Beat Agents and a lot of things that we put into the thinking behind Elite Beat Agents really trickled down into Ouendan 2, in terms of minor things like the gameplay and whatnot. But at the same time, a lot of things that people don't consciously realize, but a lot of things we made conscious decisions about to make the game more accessible, really came down, and came down well.

Ouendan 2 for us did very well, and it continues to do very well right now. To that extent, yeah, even Nintendo told us, "Look, this is not a scenario that easily happens." What was really great for us was that the fact that Ouendan 2 is doing really well now, kind of drove Ouendan 1 sales now. So if you go to game shops in Japan, usually you'll see Ouendan 1 right next to Ouendan 2. We got a pretty sizable amount of sales after Ouendan 2 released, of Ouendan 1. I know they're making more copies right now and everything.

When I bought Ouendan 1, it was back when it was like super-underground, and I bought it for 2,000 yen [about $17] on the clearance rack. That was a couple of years ago, but now it's back.

KY: It's actually at retail price now, and it's easier to find now because a lot of retailers have gotten more.

That's not really a typical release pattern, in the sense that games do not usually come back into print.

KY: Yeah. We almost gave up! Again, I can say that we're very lucky that Nintendo made the decision to let us do the sequel despite the fact that sales were not that great. But I think they realized that having a fanbase like this doesn't come around every day. You get these things that people like and sell well, but to have a solid fanbase is a great thing, and I really thank the fans for that and for supporting us.

I went to a couple of community panels here, and it's come up a lot in terms of, for example, Forza 2's integrated community functions. The developers say that they feel community really drives continued interest in the title, and it drove interest for people to buy it who wouldn't have bought it. Is that something you're thinking about more directly integrating into future titles?

KY: Oh, definitely, definitely. I think the community aspect is something that you can't ignore now. It's something that'll be very important going out, and I think that games will be less boxed objects more than they are services. I tend to think of the projects that we'll be working on here on out more as services more than boxed games. It's definitely very, very important.

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