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Tecmo Koei Interview

Interview: Boss Kenji Matsubara eyes western dominance

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Matsubara: The US and European markets are expanding very fast, so we have to focus on these markets. And our strategy is to expand our library.

We have our current brands like Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive - they are very popular especially in the North American market. And we have Dynasty Warriors as well.

We have to focus on expanding our existing brands, and in addition we plan to create new IP targeting the western market. So we're hiring developers not only within Japan but overseas too, like in Singapore and Toronto Canada. We are pretty much ready to develop titles focussing on a western audience, so that's our strategy.

Are you inspired by the adult-action game approach taken by Platinum Games?

Matsubara: I understand that they are developing some good titles. We see that as stimulating to our development teams. We have to compete, not only against Sega's teams but also western development studios.

Zoom

I understand that not only Sega but every Japanese publisher is now focussing on the western market. That's why it's very clear for us to compete with many publishers including Platinum Studios.

How will you take advantage of the popularity of Nintendo's formats in the west?

Matsubara: Currently we are working Samurai Warriors 3 for Wii this year, and Nintendo supports this title. Third party titles have struggled to be popular on the Wii platform.

Nintendo understands this situation and so it's provided good support for us. That's why we've chosen to put a big franchise such as Samurai Warriors on Wii. We expect a big hit with that.

What's your take on Project Natal and Sony's motion control?

Matsubara: We are very excited about the future with Project Natal and Sony's motion controllers. At the same time, we have some concerns over the fact that we specialise in making action games, so we have to explore whether we can achieve real-time response from a controller-free system. That's our challenge.

We understand that, for casual gamers playing dance games or some sort of fishing game, this controller-free system can be popular. But for hardcore gamers who like action games, we have to research and develop games that satisfy our core gamers.

An analyst recently said Sony's motion controllers are better suited to the hardcore crowd than MS' Natal. Do you agree?

Matsubara: I expect that, from the beginning, both these types of controls will be more suited to casual games, and later go into more hardcore oriented experiences. That's how, in my understanding, most companies' strategies will apply.

We haven't experimented with both technologies, so I cannot comment on which might be better. But I believe both companies are focusing on the same area - so casual gamers first, then core gamers. We hope that both are successful so that we can expand our business on both platforms.

Will PSP Go to mark the return and rise of PSP?

Matsubara: PSP Go will help in the long run. Digital distribution is in demand from both the users and the publishers. I know there's some criticism of the cost of the console.

PSP Go has opened a discussion about online distribution, and PSP has already been established as a good gaming platform. Not only that but as a good multimedia platform. So I think Sony has a good opportunity to expand the entertainment business with PSP Go.

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