According to Chris Pranger from Nintendo Treehouse, Nintendo’s fan base fails to understand and accept the more serious business factors behind video game localisation.
In an interview with Part Time Gamers podcast, the member of Nintendo of America’s Nintendo Treehouse made it clear the localisation game is a risky business, and that resting hopes on obscure or niche titles with limited reach in local markets is not a smart move.
The hardest thing for everyone to understand and to accept — and I’ve seen this first hand in the company, that this is typified — people think that obviously they’re right, and what they like or dislike has to be the norm. Why would it be otherwise? And they just say the classic “Why do you hate money? Why do you hate money, Nintendo?”
And it’s like “What are you talking about? We’re trying to make…obviously it has to make calculated risks, but at the same time, one of those risks…and I mean they’ll bring up games that are very Japanese games, like Captain Rainbow for instance. They’ll bring that up like “Look how many people want this. Don’t you want money?” And we’ll be like “Yeah, we do want money, which is why we know it’s a colossal waste if we ever try to localize that in this current market, because look at you people. You don’t make up a big enough group.
Pranger further elaborated explaining the combination of translation, localisation and marketing expenses means certain games require a larger financial backing:
The hardest part for people to realize is how much money it takes sometimes to make a game like…if it’s a Japense game, to bring it over the States. Not just translating and then localizing and marketing, but if it’s a game that has substantial voice text, oh my goodness! That is a collosal cost to bring that over. And some games you look at and you’re like “Well how are they going to bring that over?” and it’s like “Well, they can’t.”
To reiterate his point, Mr Pranger used Xenoblade Chronicles as an example, explaining it wasn’t popular enough in the West to justify a local release, and pointed fingers at Nintendo of Europe:
You look at something like even Xenoblade Chronicles. People love that game, you know, within a certain group. That game is not the type of game that just pulls in enough to justify the costs on that. So that’s like, we got it in the States by luck, that NoE decided “Oh, we’ll take the fall. We’ll localize that.” Okay, cause someone is going to have to eat the costs somewhere, because that game is guaranteed to not sell enough to justify how big that game is. You know, hundreds of hours, all voiced. That’s a lot of money that goes into that.
And people are like “Why do you guys hate money?” We don’t. That’s why you literally can’t make everything. And people don’t like finding out that their fanbase is actually too small to justify the costs of the thing they want.
Let us know what you think about Chris Pranger’s comments regarding Nintendo and its approach to localisation.
Thanks to Ryan Millar for the tip.