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You said earlier that you produced and directed Ys Seven. It's pretty rare for the president of the company to be involved so directly in game development. What effect does that have on Falcom as a company?
TK: When I first joined the company, I was in charge of maintaining Falcom's servers and their network systems, and then from my second year I was involved in development. I've been a dev guy for the whole time. Mostly in different game companies, they have the PR, marketing, and sales side, and then they have the dev side of the company. And usually they don't get along well, because marketing might say, "We need to show more boobs!" And then the dev people are like, "No, we're creating a game. We're not creating a flashy boob movie. We want to sell a game!"
They might have conflicts because of that -- but I understand development. I feel that that's probably the reason the company wanted me to become the president.
Since I understand the development side, I can be a cushion between like the sales side and the creative side, and I can understand both sides. I'm able to pass along the message from the sales side in words that the dev people will not react badly to, and also understand what the players want.
I can also tell the developers, "Okay, I think you guys are going a little too far. The players don't want that. This is what the players want." They listen to me because I understand what development is about. I can be hands-on, too. Because of that, I'm probably a good influence on the company.
If Falcom is like the shinise-style shop that's been there for 200 years, do you see yourself as a craftsman in that traditional Japanese sense of someone who's furthering a specific technique, or a specific ideology?
TK: I would say half and half. I'm half the craftsman, but I also understand management, I also understand marketing and promotion, and all of that. I'm in a very tough situation, because since I understand both, I have pressure from both sides, and understand the concerns of both sides.
I understand those things two times more than a normal person would, but when both of them come together, when they line up, the satisfaction is two times more, too. When that happens, I feel really good. That's why I like what I'm doing, what my position is right now. Me, personally, as an individual, I'm 90 percent a craftsman type. But because of my position, I'm toned down to fifty-fifty, to be able to carry on this role.
Have you given much thought to your Western audience? Recently, you've been working with XSEED to get your games out in America. But do you think about the audience who plays those games, or is it just a bonus for Falcom beyond the domestic Japanese audience you concentrate on?
TK: Up to a couple of years ago when we put our titles out in the West, it was always just licensed to other companies, so we weren't actually putting them out ourselves. But in the past couple of years, we've been working with XSEED, and I've been directly working with XSEED to put the games out. And by doing that I, and Falcom as a company, are starting to think about that.
With our games up to this point, we've been concentrating on the Japanese market when we created them. But when we put those games out in the West, we've noticed that a lot of people in the West are enjoying the titles that we've created, even when we're just concentrating on the Japanese market. But we are starting to understand, and starting to process, what the Western market has liked about Falcom's games.
We are starting to realize that Ys is a popular series in the West. Up to this point, we were concentrating on the Japanese market, but now we're starting to understand the West a little bit. We are really happy that we are able to get the Ys series out in America, because by doing that, to be honest, we've begun to realize what parts of the games are lacking in effort. It was a good opportunity for us to notice that. We're hoping the Western audiences will really enjoy our new PlayStation Vita Ys game, Celceta no Jukai, and we're putting a lot of effort into it.
You've been concentrating on the PSP and now you're moving onto the Vita. Have you given any thought to any other platforms? What about Xbox Live Arcade or PlayStation Network, even Steam or other PC platforms? Or mobile?
TK: I can't give you the details, but we have been buying dev equipment from other platform holders, and we are analyzing these platforms right now. First, as you know, we were concentrating on PC games, and now we've moved onto the PSP. We don't want to skip around; we want to concentrate on one thing and do it well. And so we've been doing that with PSP, and now we feel like we could look into other platforms, so we are in the process of doing that right now.
You don't need to go through a publisher in the iOS or Android markets, globally.
TK: Right, you can release it by pushing one button. The iPhone Android markets are easy to join, and there are a lot of people who enjoy games on those platforms. I view them as a kind of similar market to the PC market, so I'm interested in that market, but Falcom is not a huge company. We can't make a huge jump towards a different platform like that, but we are like considering teaming up with different companies, using our original IPs.
We're working on Sorcerian for the iPhone and Android platforms. The development is done by another company, but we're overseeing the project; we're watching over it, so it will keep the Falcomism. It should be interesting.