Lighting The Ignition: Jumping From Niche to Triple-A?
July 13, 2009 Page 4 of 5
I don't think anyone with a Western focus has made a consistent success in Japan. Obviously, the big emphasis from our end is always seeing how Japanese publishers do in the West. But even names like EA and Ubisoft haven't really made a splash.
SB: You know, it's funny, because I don't really consider Ignition a U.S. publisher and developer -- even though we are.
RS: If you look at the overall Asian cross-culture heritage, from that point of view, I think that works better. Because actually Japan works with its own culture. So, the geographies are all similar, the strategies are the same, but the cultures are a little different, between each territory.
AC: And I think another thing that you need to look at: you look at all the key management at Ignition. We're all gamers, so we understand gaming. That's the biggest difference. We don't go in suits -- except for me, today, because the big boss is here...
RS: Who's dressed in Tommy Bahama!
AC: He tricked me!
I think the key is that we understand. And the core talent that we're bringing into our studios, the key thing is that they look at the management and they think, "You get it." They see that we understand it, that's why they want to work with us. And I think that's very cool.
SB: And that's what I felt. When I first came to Ignition, both Ajay and Vijay are such huge gamers. Such really passionate guys, in the same way that I am -- and that's a rare find. I mean, I've met a lot of game CEOs, game company presidents, and a lot of them don't even play games at all. The fact that they get it, the consumer will ultimately understand: everyone along the way felt passion for this game. That's important.
You announced the new Samurai Shodown game at E3. Is that your only announcement?
AC: Yeah, it's our only announcement, and I think it's probably best it's kept this way, because we've got four very strong games here now. To be announcing or doing anything is not strategically wise for us. I think, you know, we've got Nostalgia; we've got King of Fighters XII, which is looking huge; we've got Samurai Shodown...
SB: And Muramasa.
AC: And Demon Blade -- I mean, that speaks for itself. You've seen the press that's come out already. Even Nintendo Power, we've had a nine or 10 page spread in there. And every word -- the single word is, it's beautiful. And it's not just beautiful and it doesn't play; it's beautiful and it flipping plays. So, you know, we've got such a beautiful array of games, I don't think we really need to do anything.
Ignition Entertainment/SNK Playmore's Samurai Shodown: Edge of Destiny
It does feel like, at least for this year, you're on the cusp. Which is an interesting place to be, I should imagine, and you're observing. I don't think anyone really knew what E3 was going to be like this year, right?
AC: I was standing there thinking to myself that my boss was going to tap me on the shoulder and say, "Where is everyone? It's midday." [Ed. note: The E3 show floor opened at noon on the first day.]
But, since it opened, the stand had been packed. And we underestimated in some way how busy it would be. We could have had, probably, a few more [demo] pods and they would have been packed, and that's great. That's a great feeling.
SB: I think it shows that gaming isn't going away. Despite the recession, despite all the fears, people are still really excited about games. Probably next year will be even bigger for E3 -- and bigger for us.
Something that's interesting for me is Nostalgia. I'm sure at some point this has happened, but I don't remember Tecmo doing a lot of licensing out of their titles, so that's an interesting situation.
AC: I think with Tecmo it was quite interesting, because we met by coincidence in Japan, back in Tokyo, and we were literally sitting at the table next to them. And we started a conversation, and they showed us Nostalgia, which I was surprised about. And we talked about what we would do with it; what we had done before. They'd seen, previously, what we had done on Blue Dragon, and I think they were impressed by what we had done.
So we put some ideas down with them, discussed what we would do with the title, and I think -- like I said to you -- even bigger publishers now are looking. Because, and I think Shane put the nail on the head. Some publishers have so many games that they don't concentrate on all of them, and they only concentrate on one; the rest are going to fall, even if they are very good titles.
So, I think the option is, let some other people handle these products, and they'll put the concentration on them that we can't afford to, and they'll make them successful. So this is why you're seeing some partnerships that Ignition are taking.
People are looking at us like that. Seeing the company, and seeing what we're doing. Even the actual logo [of the game], we changed the direction, and the way people look at it. And they [Tecmo] have been really impressed. And I think they respect the way we look after the IP -- the way we're looking after the licensor -- and how transparent we are as a company to work with. I think that is really a breath of fresh air for these guys. There's transparency that Ignition offer.
SB: Yeah. Personally, I would love to take on more Japanese games from other publishers and developers you wouldn't expect to license games out. I think that the climate there has changed a lot. And, same as here: the whole rules of who publishes what, and how it gets handled, are changing.
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