So the U.S. Taito mobile titles are developed third-party by U.S. companies?
KF: Yes, exactly. But I rely on porting
-- the conversion to many mobile phones, and I rely on them for porting
only. Basically what I do is I ask Taito's in-house programmer or in-house
developer or a third-party in Japan to develop a master application.
I always ask them to make three kinds of applications. It's actually
the screen size [that's the problem]. So I make small-sized, medium-sized,
and large-sized screen applications. After that, I ask the porting house
in the U.S. to start porting games to the more than 200 phones. I think
this is the best way to maintain the game quality and the fast delivery.
Are you trying to bring a porting
house inside? I know when Konami built up their mobile division in the
U.S., they actually bought my friend's company
Blue Label, which was a porting house, and then brought it internal.
KF: So far, we don't have such plans. We have to do exactly the same things in the future. Before that, I have to maximize the revenue first. At the moment, I rely on third-party developers to take care of the games.
But making a master application in Japan is pretty good, because nowadays, most carriers want to see the working application on the phone to evaluate it. Previously, we gave them one piece of paper about the content, a game plan. It used to work, but it's no longer viable. Now they want to see what a game looks like and how it is. So it's safer to ask to make a master application first, then show them and get approval, then start porting, so we can minimize our risk in this case.
How important are franchises like
Cooking Mama to Taito? It seems like the biggest hit Taito has
had in a while, even though it's a very small game.
KF: Exactly. Actually, Cooking Mama
was awarded as IGN's Best of E3 last year, and 700,000 copies have been
sold already in the U.S. market, with another 500,000 copies in Europe.
How much in Japan?
KF: Almost a million, actually. It's
kind of a blockbuster game for us, after more than ten years of silence.
We used to have blockbuster games in Japan, but we didn't launch this
game... have you ever heard of Let's Go By Train?
Yeah, Densha de Go!
KF: Yeah. That is popular in Japan, but we didn't release it overseas, because the game is not really suitable to the overseas market.
Of course. It's also about Japanese train lines.
KF: It's a very unique Japanese culture, actually.
I have the Saturn controller.
KF: (laughs) I think after Let's Go By Train, Cooking Mama is the most successful game of Taito's titles, actually. I'm confident the mobile version of the game will be successful in the U.S. market as well.
What's interesting to me is that
Taito, for a while, was very good at arcade-like games, like action
games and shooting games, all the way until 1995 and '96. Then, the
focus changed to trying to make more console-like games, and those didn't
do very well, but then Cooking Mama is really simple, easy, and
fast. It's just like the old Taito arcade games to me. It's like going
back to the way it used to work is suddenly working so much better.
KF: Exactly. (laughs)