I was going to ask how [feelplus parent company] AQI is doing as a publisher.
RN: As a publisher, we are still a start-up, and I shouldn't really say numbers, but you can probably check. But as the AQI brand, we published four titles last year, and all four of them aren't a big hit. [First is] the boxing game, on Wii.
Yeah, Hajime no Ippo. [Ed. note: This game is known as Victorious Boxers Revolution in the U.S.]
RN: Yeah. And Arcana Heart, that's an arcade port; and Anata wo Yurusanai, that's a mystery adventure game on the PSP; and Dokomodake, that's a puzzle game. Those aren't big projects...
But this year, we've started making a lot of games for AQI, but the things we've announced or we've published already are things that are smaller in size. And this time next year, I think finally we will be able to release something that's meaningful.
Wasn't Vampire Rain released under AQI?
I know a couple of larger-scale games, like also Bullet Witch came out, but that game was released in 2006. And AQI seemed like one of the companies that was going for the big budget stuff, much more than some others. Do you think that's going to work in Japan? The big game model?
RN: Well, I guess it depends on how big it is. You know, as feelplus, we did Lost Odyssey for the last few years, and that was a really big project. Now that Lost Odyssey is done, feelplus has started on three projects internally.
That's still next-gen games, but it's of course not as big as Lost Odyssey. I think it's comparable in size with other competitors. Enough to -- the Lost Odyssey team, my studio, can start three projects, where before it was just one project. So...
Right. So, it's the same amount of people that were on Lost Odyssey, broken up into three?
OK. So those will be like, well -- Are you doing any kind of console download games, or is it all packaged products?
RN: It's all packaged products. I can't disclose details yet of the three projects.
I just noticed that not a lot of Japanese developers are doing the console download stuff yet. The only thing I've really seen is publishers rereleasing their games, like on PSN; rereleasing PlayStation 1 games and things. But even when Capcom and Konami do ports of their old arcade games, it's mostly being done in America anyway. So I'm just wondering, it seems like the Japanese game industry is not really hot on that concept yet.
RN: Well, I think we are hot on that concept. I mean, everybody is interested in WiiWare. And [email protected]; I'm sure you know of [email protected]. [Ed. note: pop star management simulator The I[email protected] is one of the most popular Xbox 360 games in Japan.] It did very good business with downloadable content.
Yeah, on Xbox 360. Which is surprising.
RN: Yeah. So, we are interested.
I know that with the bigger projects, you have to really make sure that you appeal to a Western audience, because that's where it has the possibility to sell well at this point -- how are you doing that? How are you trying to figure out what the mass western market will want? Or are you?
RN: Well, I guess, of course we have to make games that are accepted in the Western market, but we also have to stand out, so we just can't mimic those games that are already out there in the States.
So, we try -- when we start up the concept of the game, we really don't think too much about Western users or Western market; we just focus on what we would want to make. So that's something to start with, then that's, in the concept design stage, that's how we do it.
Once we figure out overall plot, like the design ideas and world plot, then we start consulting with European and North American agencies. Like story agencies, story writing agencies, or marketing agencies. But the core concept is something that Japanese people came up with.
I was thinking about, in the old days, like in the NES era, Japanese games were really popular here, but that was just because they were the best-made games at the time. And I wonder where that shift was, that the next-gen games, the highest end games that were the most fun, weren't coming out of Japan anymore all the time. Do you have any idea how that shift might have happened? Or maybe you don't agree...
RN: I think one big factor is that in Western gaming market there is a long history of PC games. A long and big market with the PC games, so I think there are a lot of great developers and creators who kept making PC games, and I think this generation of consoles, finally those people started showing up in the console game arena. I think that's one big reason. Also that's one big reason that Japan also seems to be a little behind in that arena.