What's interesting to me is that some companies that do larger games for next-gen consoles like 360 or PlayStation 3 are making games in Japan, specifically for the western market. Capcom is a good example, doing Dead Rising, and Lost Planet, and things like this. They are very much made for the western market, and they already know it won't succeed in Japan -- because it can't. But I wonder, how long will DS and Wii be popular in Japan? Do you think forever, or...?
MM: That's a very difficult question. Some people have said already that the DS software's bubble has burst.
Well everyone -- everyone -- every company that exists, like people that make word processing software, have made a "training" game.
MM: [One company I know has] some kind of learning type of game. The first one sold over 200,000, but the second one is 8,000. So these kind of things are going to happen.
Well, you know, what's difficult is that Nintendo, with the Wii and DS, is bringing in a lot of new users, right? These new users don't have experience with buying games, and so the first game they buy is a Nintendo game, and they think: "Oh, the other games are going to be good, like this!" And so, if they start buying all of these other games, that are just really bad, they're going to be like: "Well, I'm not going to buy any more games!" So that's concerning, because there's a huge amount of titles, and for these kinds of people, there's no real way to tell if it's going to be good.
MM: That's true. I have to say, to the small developers like us, that you have to be unique. So don't be like some of the other developers that's...
MM: Mm. So if you want to make something similar to another title, then you should be an employee of a big company. To be independent, you have to alternate the culture. You can't have set ideas. [If you do,] you don't have to be independent.
If you're going to be independent and small, you have to be agile, and take risks. If you don't take risks, you will just make another Brain Training knockoff. It's better to be at the crest of the wave, and sometimes you just smash into the surf, but sometimes you reach the shore.
DT: Scary example.
Well it's true, though. You have to be able to also take some failures, it seems. Because if you are a small company, maybe you can afford to have a failure, as long as -- if you have two failures and one big success, your big success can carry your two failures. But that's not true if a big company -- a big company, everything has to be a success. Like Ubisoft just did the best they've ever done -- they're like a two billion dollar company now.
MM: I was surprised... we have met Ubisoft's people; they gave us the company's profile. It was dictionary book-sized. And I was surprised and impressed -- the information it says about the worldwide studios of Ubisoft -- how much they are using the electricity power. And water.
(laughter from all)
Wow. That's amazing. Yeah, so they are like a two billion dollar company now, and so for their shareholders, next year they have to be a two-point-two-five billion dollar company, or else they've failed. How do you do that? If you're two billion, how do you do that? But, like, NanaOn-Sha, if you're not two-point-two-five whatever next year, nobody will kill you. Probably. So, it seems in some ways it's a good position. You know, you don't have a sure, steady job, so it may be difficult for some people, but...
MM: Basically, I am very happy to be in the game industry, because I couldn't imagine [how it is now] the first time I made a game in the middle '90s. This industry was much smaller, and [there were] not so many variations. But now, like [comparing us to] Ubisoft, it looks like a different industry is coming. So various kinds of differences are in the same industry. It's very unique.
Well that's true. It's interesting, because often, indie record labels, they're independent but they follow a similar production model to large record labels. So, it's not a huge, huge difference, there.
It's interesting that some of the big companies also, in order to try to achieve that sort of thing for themselves, they also make much, much, much smaller titles. Which didn't used to happen. Like, Ubisoft is an example again: they're doing small, casual titles for DS. But at the same time they're trying to do that, those games don't get a big marketing budget, either.
MM: Yeah, and also, I was surprised and impressed to know that EA made an iPod game. I was surprised.
But they release games on everything, so.
DT: It was The Sims Pool.
It was not a very daring kind of thing. They did release things, but, you know, they release games on mobile phones and on all platforms -- just so they can control everything.