I was wondering if Square Enix would ever bring back the old Taito brand... in the U.S. it was called Lufia, but I forget what it was called in Japan.
KF: It's Estpolis.
KF: Actually, I'm trying to launch the game for the mobile phone, but due to the technical specification and limitations of U.S. mobile phones, I'm still waiting for the right time to launch this game. I know that Lufia is pretty popular in the U.S. market.
Was it released in Japan already?
KF: On mobile?
KF: It is, yeah, for the [carrier] SoftBank mobile.
Does Taito's U.S. operation have
any plans to expand? I know right now they're doing Live Arcade in Japan,
but it seems like they would eventually want to do stuff like that here.
KF: The console games will be published by Square Enix in the future, for the U.S. market. There's no point for us to work with other local game publishers, since Square Enix locally has an office here, right? Square Enix doesn't have much [in the way of] game titles to release, so I think it's kind of a mutual benefit between Taito and Square Enix. Taito doesn't have a distribution channel in the United States, and Square Enix doesn't have many products to sell.
Yeah. They're constantly doing Final Fantasy everything.
KF: Yeah. Exactly.
Will your office expand when that happens?
KF: Yeah, actually I'm trying to expand.
I'm kind of starting [this] business from scratch.
Yeah, you're not in an easy position.
You have a lot of bosses, and they're all over there.
KF: Exactly. Mobile gaming is very competitive. But there's a lot of things good for us. Carrier tech always shows game titles and game descriptions, and even screenshots sometimes. So if there's a brand new game which is a very good game, but people cannot recognize it by looking at the game title only. But Taito's games were previously developed as arcade machines, so people recognize the name of the game. This is a strong point for Taito, actually. That's how we've survived in the market.
Speaking of that, what are the most challenging differences between the Japanese mobile gaming market and the U.S. mobile gaming market?
KF: I would say the game availability for the phones. Japanese phones are very standardized, meaning that if you build an application, it will support most of the handsets in Japan. However, the U.S. phone is very different from the Japanese phone, and I must admit that there are still a lot of low-end devices, while high-end devices also exist. If you want to target the entire U.S. market, you have to support all of the five major U.S. carriers.
In that case, I have to develop a game for more than 200 phones. It is very challenging, and even in the game's specification, we have to consider the low-end devices as well. Mobile carriers are always a hassle to launch the games, so once they authorize approval to launch the game, we have to deliver all the applications within three months' time. So we have to find a very good third-party developer which can provide low cost, fast delivery, and better quality.