CVG recently travelled to Barcelona to check out Namco Bandai's game line-up including the promising Test Drive Unlimited 2 (read our preview), alongside excellent-looking Ninja Theory effort, Enslaved (read our Enslaved preview).
At the event we managed to get some face time with Namco Bandai Partners VP, Olivier Comte, who kindly answered our questions about the line-up, as well as the firm's plans for the future.
In part two he discusses the company's ambitious plans for Enslaved, his opinions on PC piracy and the on-going debate over Japan-vs-Western development.
Enslaved looks impressive, like a typical gaming blockbuster. How heavily do you intend to push it?
I'm convinced that Enslaved, with some good work, good marketing and good PR should be and could be the number one franchise of the company in five or six years with Enslaved two, three or whatever.
I don't know if it'll work but I can't imagine it won't. What I know is that I can guarantee that this will be the priority number one title for the company worldwide and we will make all the effort necessary to make it a success and to build the franchise. There is no doubt, this is priority number one. The game is already finished as of a couple of weeks and months ago and they are polishing the game.
Everything is on track. The studio has a good track record and I think this is the best game that they've ever made. They have the best music, the best art design, the best writers... honestly, we have everything to build a very, very strong franchise. I will be very sad if we miss it.
What game in your line-up would you say is most ripe for trans-media strategies? (Comics, books, TV)?
It's complicated because clearly we have some licenses coming from comics and anime - it's part of the DNA of Bandai. Enslaved is coming originally from Odyssey of the West and Monkey so it's clear that there's already a link.
Regarding Enslaved, before we expand the brand to other entertainment mediums I think the first thing is to establish it as a videogame, which is not the case today. The first trailer came just now. Merchandising at the moment is not a priority. The priority is to make the videogame a success. I would like to ship a million units of games and not a million units of t-shirts.
In the industry I know only one brand where I think for my age it was cool to wear the t-shirt, and it's Atari. It's not Prince of Persia, it's not Call of Duty... the brand is fun, it reminds us of the 80s, it's lifestyle.
Will Enslaved see a special edition box at least?
For Enslaved certainly we will have a special edition. Certainly.
How important is E3 going to be for Namco Bandai?
I really wonder how E3 is going to be this year because we seem to have come back on track. I wonder if this year it will be E3 like three or four years ago - a very big event. This is how I feel. If this is a case then it's clear that the industry will have to choose between E3 and GamesCom because two events within three months that cost a lot of money for all of the publishers will be too much.
For us of course E3 will be a very important topic because it's in the US. We have a couple of very important announcements to make at E3 so it will be a key milestone in the year. Also we know that to make noise at E3 is always complicated with Move and Natal but an event in the US is always an event.