News Article

Marvelous Stops Working on New IP to Stay in Business

Posted by James Newton

Japanese company wants to avoid aping Cing's fate

In a gaming climate where there arguably aren't enough new intellectual properties (IPs) hitting consoles, it's a shame to hear that a talented developer has to scale back its new ideas simply to stay alive, but that's the situation at Japanese company Marvelous.

The company's last notable IP was the wonderful Little King's Story, co-developed with Cing who recently went into administration. Having already sold its 50% stake in European publisher Rising Star Games and switched to a licensing model, Marvelous has now announced it will concentrate on producing sequels to its existing properties, including Harvest Moon and a mobile version of Little King's Story.

Marvelous will now focus most of its development efforts on its most successful format, Sony's PSP, with the possibility of 3DS titles entering development in the future. It's a sad sign of the times that the two teams responsible for one of the Wii's more critically-acclaimed titles have either fallen into administration or had to cease producing new ideas, but here's hoping Marvelous doesn't meet the same fate as Cing Inc.

[via siliconera.com]

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User Comments (26)

James

#1

James said:

I need that Little King's Story mobile game like I need oxygen.

motang

#7

motang said:

:-(
Which reminds me I need to star playing Little King Story, I have that game but I haven't started it yet.

odd69

#12

odd69 said:

i bought little kings story the day it came out. i play it in small burst. great game .did it not sell good?

Ravage

#13

Ravage said:

I'm pretty sure the game sold terribly, but I bought it, at full price, and I should really play it again, it was awesome :(

Bankai

#14

Bankai said:

So where's the link between a company deciding to focus on its existing properties, and it being in "dire financial straits?"

The answer is: There is none. Projects get shelved all the time for any number of reasons - the game was deemed to be too risky in the market, with too little potential for profit, or possibly even the game was turning out to be just plain bad. Perhaps the consoles that the game was slated for release from have not performed with third parties well enough for product to continue to make sense (hello, Wii).

Nintendolife does this all the time, and it's a horrible reminder that it's an amateur Website when it does: You guys need to stop guessing when it comes to financial stories, or learn how to report them properly.

If Marvelous does not outright state that "we are in dire financial straits," then you cannot report it. In fact, you can get in a lot of legal trouble for doing that. That kind of reporting has affected the stock price in stock-exchange listed companies, and journalists can and have been sued for misreporting and causing people to lose a lot of money on the stock exchange.

And, if they have come out and said that it is in trouble, you need to quote it, in your article. Even clicking on the "source link" (please note, that's not an acceptable source for a business story), and reading through that piece, all I see is that Marvellous has cited "lackluster sales" for pulling the new IP.

That doesn't mean the company is in "dire financial straits" either, in fact, by deciding to focus on popular and profitable IPs, such as Harvest Moon, all it means is that Marvellous is a smart business. It would FIND itself in "dire financial straits" if it continued to fund games that sold poorly.

So, in conclusion, you've done nothing to back up these statements - there's no comment from Marvelous, and you've just guessed at what's going on behind the scenes. Poor form, guys.

CanisWolfred

#15

CanisWolfred said:

Smart move, and I'm not surprised. I can't think of one game they made that was successful financially, sad to say.

CorbsAdmin

#16

Corbs said:

Shame to see an original IP get shelved, but I'd rather see them stay afloat. Maybe a few games to make some money might get this original IP back on track. We can always hope! :)

Egg_miester

#17

Egg_miester said:

sadly marvelous hasn't been doing as well as they use to, its a shame they are one of the best japanese companies but people just are not buying their games, i hope this teach marvelous not to port wii games onto hd systems

Sean_Aaron

#18

Sean_Aaron said:

@WaltzElf: You must have missed the past news with Marvelous like staff taking pay cuts and reports of profit shortfalls. Anyone who thinks Marvelous isn't in trouble is clearly not paying attention.

erv

#19

erv said:

pff. The problem with little king's story was simply availability. The thing was most desired, yet nowhere to be found. Took me 4 pre-orders to get my hands on the thing!

If you want to sell your game, make sure it is actually there, sitting at the shelves for people to pick up. Scale up or down all you want, it won't matter.

Stuffgamer1

#20

Stuffgamer1 said:

Perhaps this report on the matter from GameSpot will help clear things up? Yeah, as Sean said, they're in trouble. And they're apparently planning to cut distribution outside of Japan. That doesn't include the popular stuff like Harvest Moon, does it? I don't play it, but I'm sure a lot of people would be upset if that series stopped coming out West.

This news is a sad example of the current gaming market, where people are unwilling to try new things and only go for sequels, sometimes forcing developers with a vision to go along with that model just to stay afloat. That's a reason to have a PS3 if I ever saw once, since Sony puts out more new IP's than most other companies, and gains exclusives of others (such as Demon's Souls and 3D Dot Game Heroes). A company has to build a serious fanbase to be able to survive on new IP's, like Atlus does, only occasionally publishing sequels (Trauma series, two Etrian Odysseys...anything else?).

EdEN

#21

EdEN said:

Well, I've bought Lunar: Dragon Song, Contact, both DS Rune Factory games, imported Flower, Sun and Rain, both No More Heroes, Little King's Story and will get No More Heroes Paradise if released over here and have Arc Rise Fantasia preordered. I'm doing my best to support them. Hopefully they make a profit this fiscal year.

Bankai

#22

Bankai said:

@SeanAaron - IBM stopped stocking coffee for its workers. Does that quite extreme effort at cutting costs an indication that IBM is about to go out of business? No.

Cost cutting is not a sign that a company is in financial trouble. It's a sign that a company has realised that if it doesn't cut costs and maximise profitability it will be in financial trouble. There were a tonne of very high profile companies that had to either freeze or even cut wages throughout the global financial crisis. Very few of those went out of business.

Paying attention? I do this for a living. Once again - if a company does not come out and say "we are in trouble", than it is presumptious in the extreme to claim it is in trouble, without real financial data.

There's very little about business reporting that is reading things on surface value. It's a mistake a whole lot of gaming blogs and websites make, unfortunately.

@Stuffgamer - setting up and maintaining a distribution network is a very costly exercise. If you can find local reliable distributors, it makes far more sense to enter into a partnership with them. I just finised a feature on the topic, actually, and not one of the companies I spoke to would ever even consider self-distributing in an overseas market.

My reading on all this is this: Marvellous' sales are down, so, rather than plow on in the hope that things get better (and go the way of Midway and Cing), they've instead taken measures to "lean up" the company and focus on returning to real profitibility before they begin to invest in new IP creation.

That's just my reading, but I reckon the analysts would be more inclined to agree with me.

CorbsAdmin

#23

Corbs said:

I guess I've generally missed that step where a company "says their in trouble" over the years. Normally it goes straight from making cuts to making their way out the door. :)

Stuffgamer1

#24

Stuffgamer1 said:

@WaltzElf: Well, Marvelous has never self-published overseas to begin with. Their IP's are spread out among several companies in America, including XSeed, Ignition Entertainment, Ubisoft, and Natsume. I think GameSpot was really referring to their working in PAL regions, which I confess I understand little of.

Anyway, the GameSpot article specifically cites a Japanese financial report as saying that Marvelous is, in fact, in financial trouble. Unless you care to translate it and prove that assertion false for us, I'm going to go ahead and assume they're in a tight situation right now.

James

#25

James said:

I don't remember many companies outright saying "we're in trouble" - would that have more of an adverse effect on its share prices than them saying "we're concentrating on franchises"?

Sean_Aaron

#26

Sean_Aaron said:

@Elf: Marvelous isn't IBM, so there's a massive gulf between "making cuts" at the two companies. If Marvelous is publicly-traded, then I'd say their future is pretty bleak: they'll end up pumping out franchises and doing work-for-hire until they end up going bust and getting asset-stripped by another outfit.

I'm prepared to be proven wrong, but I don't see anything wrong with the tone of this article.

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