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.
I don't get it. Xenoblade Chronicles sold over a million copies. I just can't see how that's not good enough to justify the localization
Who knows what it cost but i have a feeling it's pretty pricey and who knows maybe localization might cost somewhere near development, i can understand why nintendo doesn't want to release games in the west sometimes and prefer digital. I kind of wish nintendo would pay for 3rd party ports to fill in the gap when we don't have games during certain months
@Jayvir maybe the development cost of the game was high so it could of been risky to release a new ip outside of japan but at the end im very happy they did release it because it's one oft he best jrpg ever
@Jayvir It would be good enough if they'd known that's how much it would have sold. But they can't know that until after the fact, and have to base their decision on estimates. Sometimes they'll be wrong, but not as often as fanboys would claim.
@PanurgeJr He just makes it seem like even now, it wasn't worth it, despite the critical reception.
And this is the main reason why NoA needs to have a stronger hand in getting games pushed through themselves. By that, I mean courting western devs in the retail space. Because that's what the majority of your market is looking at, not the eShop-only devs who are lucky to sell more than 10,000 copies. indies are great, but hardly anyone wants to use your eShop, and I don't blame them, it's horribly designed.
The guys over at 8-4 have a podcast and they sometimes discuss localization and barely scratch the surface of what goes into it as it's mostly a discussion about Japanese games. These are the guys that localized Fire Emblem Awakening and just listening to some of their experiences is eye-opening to what goes on behind the scenes and how much work is truly involved.
@Jayvir that's not really that much money, a million copies sold
Then don't do everything!!! The 'niche' market he's speaking of have no problem reading. We don't need to have all of the voice acting localized. Just do the menus and we're good to go. Heck, DISASTER: DAY OF CRISIS had English voices already! Just release them on the eshop if you don't want to produce discs. There is always a way.
The group of fans that likes games like these also really likes Japanese voices with English subtitles. Cheap out and just localize the text, go light on marketing, (heck, just do a digital release even) and we'll be more than happy to buy it and love you for it.
Pretty standard info as far as I'm concerned. It's just one of those things that annoy us gamers the most as oftentimes, the types of wares that appeal to us are more niche and so obviously aren't going to have the mainstream appeal that is necessary to sell millions and millions of copies so localisation isn't always a sure thing. Having said this, I am glad that Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft and 99% of other devs release pretty much simultaneously these days. Things are infinitely better now than ever. Back in the day , for us Europeans at least anyway, things were terrible. It was as if every game was published by atlus, that is to say we would usually be waiting at least 6 months to a year for most games and that's a best case case scenario as a lot of the time they just didn't bother releasing at all. Super Mario rpg springs to mind...
I'm sure there is way enough people to meet the demands of Mother 3 and guess what? No voice acting nor packaging is required! Please don't BS us.
I want so badly to play Captain Rainbow. It's right at the top of my Games-It-Hurts-To-Admit-I'll-Never-Get-To-Play list.
I got a Vita for niche games, and the 3DS does okay with Atlus support.
But it's pretty simple, and I say this as someone still getting the basics of Japanese down: knock it off with the region locking. Let me import Rhythm Heaven and the like without having to buy a system.
Then, as others have said, just do subtitles. I don't need voice acting in every game.
I can't believe that NIS America is getting killed bringing Vita titles to the West, and we know the install base. So I'd rather Nintendo not be so dismissive of us and our ability to read the market.
The thing with Xenoblade is that they already knew the market for it was massive. Thousands upon thousands of people put their money where their mouths were by preordering the game on Amazon when it was still called Monado: Beginning of the World. It beat out OoT 3D and Call of Duty: Black Ops for preorders that week.
1 million+ sales is a fantastic figure for a niche game. That's barely under Metroid Prime 3's sales to life.
I think a lot of people are missing his point. As BS as it may seem he does make a lot of good points. Localisation certainly isn't cheap for that matter. Its not just translation either. Cultural differences likely play a big part as well. Take Mother 3 for example when you look at it in general you can tell its a very Japanese game. In order to bring it to the states there are a lot of things in that game that would likely have to be removed or altered it wouldn't even be the same. Heck one chapter heavily deals with animal abuse which is still a VERY touchy subject here in the states
To those saying look how much Xenoblade sold you not accounting for the fact Nintendo had not real way of telling how much it would really sell before hand. Releasing Xenoblade in the states was likely considered a very huge gameble not only because of how its appeal would be considered relatively niche but also when you consider that over here JRPGs have pretty much fallen out of style in favor of more western style RPGs such as Fallout and Elder Scrolls
While I COMPLETELY agree with absolutely everything he says, and I completely agree that he is right, and that gamers are pretty much a whiny and entitled lot who are far more ignorant about the industry and it's realities than they think they are when they throw tantrums about what they want without any thought of the risks involved....
....I have to say. I do not appreciate his tone and the condescending use of language. It makes him come off as butthurt, indignant, a little angry, over-defensive, and unprofessional. It hurts the point he's trying to make even as I completely agree with it, and all the confrontational use of terms like "look at you people" and a generally snotty and indignant tone that suggests he's "had it with all of these stupid fans". in a way that suggests he's angry and fed up.
When you're responding to the criticisms of the larger entitled and selfish internet communities. all this is going to do is spark a confrontation, and make people far less inclined to listen to him, even if he's right. The internet does not let these things go and already tend to over-romantize the idea of playing the persecuted victim of the evil company even on it's best days, and this isn't going to help it. I gurantee the lrger internet is going to take these comments and his tone as a direct insult, and push back harder with indignant memes, confrontational tweets, death threats and a target painted on his back by the dumber majority of reactionary fan communities.
In short even if I think he is absolutely right, and I do, this man just made himself the next Adam Orth. I sincerely hope he's prepared to be rocketed into new hate-target meme status. :/
The armchair is strong here.
I was wondering why there seems to be a kind of annoyed tone to his responses but after reading these comments you see what he's talking about with people unable to accept that they aren't backed by millions just like them
That's why there are digital distributions on the eShop to cut the marketing and retail costs. Yes, we are lucky to get the games that we have but sometimes its difficult to look at finished games like Mother 3 on GBA and question why it hasn't gone to the 3DS or Wii U eShop. The game is made with no further translations needed, simply a debug team to validate it works on the consoles. I would think they would have at least 10,000 in sales.
@night The alternative to his unfiltered thoughts about the vocal fan base is precisely what you hear from Reggie, whose PR speak has never resonated with fans who think he's disingenuous about their publishing goals.
To be honest, I love Phoenix Wright but I don't see million sales figure in Japan before it gets localize. Still, part 1-3 made it to the west. 4 and 5 even, except for Investigation 2.
But games like Yokai watch, which is a big hit don't even see the light until maybe 2 years past. Games like Lord of magna and Etrian have limited fanbase but still get localized. I just don't know how things work here.
Well, I get that. Fans usually forget it's an industry. I live in Brazil and just now we're starting to get translated games: some w/ subtitles, others dub too. The solution is quite simple - if you like it, then learn the language required to understand it. We all wanted videogames and had to make money to pay the required price, right? It's the same thing (except for region locked games, then you also need a JP console). I wouldn't understand the games I like if I didn't learn english.
I just don't know. If ATLUS of all people have the money to localize tons of niche games, why can't NINTENDO localize niche games? There's no way Atlus has more money than Nintendo, and the fact that Atlus keeps on localizing means they must be making a decent chunk of change off the titles they bring over. Now, as for voice acting, yeah that makes sense why it would be costly, but what about games that don't have voice acting? Or at least not much? for the most part, all that needs to be done as far as I know is translate the text. Yeah if you're going for a retail release that's gonna cost extra, but if it's REALLY that big of a gamble, then at least give us digital only.
Oh well. Mother 3 has no voice acting and even has a full translation so there's no excuse to not bring that over at least on Virtual Console.
@Gorlokk I'm not sure one can compare Atlas with their margins, company overhead, investor base and localization partners, to Nintendo, which is not only a publisher but a platform holder as well. I doubt it scales well because of the added size and complexity of Nintendo's business. Certain profits for them aren't worth the manpower used, whereas to Atlas, it's a viable business
To the repeated remarks about 'IT NEEDS TO BE VOICED' can I please point them to Crunchyroll? No. It doesn't need voiced. In fact, I never EVER leave on the dubbed voices if I am given the option. NEVER! I use the original language. What needs to be done, culturally, is for people to recognize that something should be kept in its native language, and simply translated across text for us to understand.
The only game I've played that I'm kinda glad there's an English option for is Bayonetta, simply because it's heavy plot text during action crap I have to focus on. Outside of that, all those RPGs I've played, the first thing I do is look for a way to turn off the annoying English voices and get back the Japanese voices for which the game was ~DESIGNED~ for.
Oh, and for something like Captain Rainbow, screw marketing. That game markets itself. Word of mouth will make that game viral just by doing it in the first place. That game. Is. Crazy. (Also, they could, you know, buy the translation efforts of the fan groups that have done such work in the first place...)
I really don't need to read this because of Monster Hunter, everyone thinks localization is just a simple translation that could be done in a day. They just don't get it, lol
I find it hilarious that there are perfect examples of what he is talking about in the comments and they don't seem to realize it.
@TobiasAmaranth Unless the game has pointless jumpscares or is a "survival" game that looks like a Generation 6 game I can't see word-of-mouth doing it any favors. It certainly doesn't work for Platinum. That said, I hope more developers take the Japanese voices only approach. It cuts costs and we get the game in our region. I'm lookin' at you Tales of Hearts R. /blowkiss
We know it's always the almighty dollar, yen, etc. and the large install base factors that determine localization. If that's the case, why are they not even considering what other Japanese license companies are doing: Use a Kickstarter to generate more interest and set a bar for the base they do need to make it worth their while? I've seen quite a few successful Japanese localizations make their way through Kickstarter, but Chris Pranger seems to want to discourage risky ventures and dash fans' hopes. In a world with specialized e-services like Kickstarter, I'm still amazed that they hold on to these archaic business models and attitudes that will only serve to drive customers away.
Sometimes I think the only fans who understand these type of situations are the ones who creates and publish games and the ones who have a grasp of the business world, both being college knowledge and not internet board knowledge.
One thing that games like Other M, Tomodachi Life, Sin and Punishment 2, Xenoblade Chronicles, Codename STEAM, and other localized games shown me is that it really is a tricky and risky business. It can sell poorly in Japan but well in NA or a game that makes a lot of noise on the web for whatever reason but doesn't reach expected sales when it's localized.
I just hope they don't decide on the subbed not dubbed approach. Personally it bothers me when you're playing in-game and the character say something in japanese that is not subbed. It can even be something as simple as a taunt. Oh the irony.
@GuySloth they have a great podcast and always learn something new from them.
Localization I imagine can be a tricky business for Japanese game makers. The reality is that each game put out anywhere in the globe only has so much time in the market to attract the main consumer and make the bulk of its sales. Things really need to line up for many of these games and if it's a game that was intended primarily for a certain market and requires localization, even more things need to line up in order for that game to catch its sales.
Putting the issue of $$$ aside, even with the required funding available, there's just so many things that need to line up and that need to be weighed and measured and measured twice to ensure there's gonna be any mount of market penetration
Yes, most of us understand all this however, what about the games that already have localizations and you're just refusing to release Nintendo? What about them? Surely those cannot cost nearly as much money as you're just getting a small team to optimize those games for the VC/E-shop release.
Also, Nintendo there is another solution to this as well. REMOVE THE GOD DA*N REGION LOCKING. Oh look, problem solved for a large portion of the world if the game is in English or Japanese. Heck, even if you just do Europe and Japan, the North American nations pretty much have all their languages covered then and Xenoblade would have never been a problem to begin with. You can get a bunch of money from the people in the regions and from the imports and then you'll have no trouble localizing the games.
Everytime I read something like that I have one answer:
If those games are Japanese RPG for the JRPG fans then for the love of god why publishers are trying so hard to record Western Voice Acting when they sound so horrible (yes I'm talking to you The Last Story and even Project Zero 2)? Why can't publishers finally understand that the only true Voice Acting for Japanese games are mostly only Japanese. The biggest cost come from recording those multilanguage recordings not for translating the text. But no, its of course our fault that we want some japanese games and will be totally satisfied with only Jap VA.
P.S. Oh and if Xenoblade didn't sell so good at the West, then why it was remade for the New 3DS with the English-only VA? Nintendo will never learn even after some big polls that will show them how much gamers want Japanese VA in their Japanese games and don't care about English Dub (like the poll after the release of Xenoblade on WIi that crearlly shows how much we love JVA).
@GloryQuestor The crowd funding platform and 'scene' is one that has been evolving and broadening. But it's also one that's still trying to improve its stats in terms of the number of projects that get funded and then fully deliver. I think we've seen some projects come to kickstarter this year that wouldn't have been considered for crowd funding two years ago. So it is something that's evolving — certainly in the case of Sony and Shenmue - and so I don't doubt that crowd funding will continue to work its way throughout the industry as a way to get even more games made and sold that aren't the high end of the market. Perhaps we see publishers integrating crowd funding into their own digital services platforms in the future, cutting out the need to work through sites like kickstarter.
Captain Rainbow sold like 10 000 copies in Japan. I would have loved to see how many fans it would have had in the west.
When talking about JRPG's and such I'm on the side that supporst releases with japanese VA and english subs. No need to make an english dub. Since my native language is not english I'm used to reading subtitles, especially as a kid before I knew any english. Or have these guys at Nintendo seen that SImpsons episode where Homer is watching a movie with subtitles and moans that he has to watch AND read at the same time, and they fear their english speaking audience would react the same way and not buy these games?
He seems really annoyed judging by the tone of his comments. Perhaps he could be better off if he ignores the whining, but view it as a good thing that there's people who would love to see the game localised.
Maybe Nintendo could create polls where people can express interest in a game being localised so that they they can better guess the demand.
Oh for frak's sake, not this again.
Text-only localizations are a thing. Zero Escape only had dubbing in NA and sold plenty well in Yurop regardless.
Tons of fans complaining have pretty much forced Konami to start including original voices in Castlevanias beginning with Portrait of Ruin... Which may be why they shafted the Igavania trend quickly after that.
Better a good sub that a terrible dub, yes? Don't waste the budget on voices if you don't have to.
(malicious side-eyes at Devil Survivor Overclocked)
STOP IGNORING EUROPE. A ton of good Japanese games localized for NA got regionlocked out of sales for Europe, and that's not the gamers' fault, kids, nosiree.
I've said it since day one: Nintendo could triple its localization budgets if it would add a "give me the ability to play out of region carts" and a "give me access to out of region eShop" paid options in the eShop. As separate purchases, too, but with a combined price appreciably below the price of an out of region 3DS.
First, it fixes the current issue that region-free hacks stop out of region games from Streetpassing.
Second, Nintendo makes money from the service, can track which overseas games are popular where and guess what, BETTER LOCALIZATION CHOICES!
Maybe we won't have to wait for Rune Factory or Shin Megami Tensei for years to cross the darn ocean. Because we don't deserve to, and because, again, it makes localizers in Amerikastan lose out on potential sales.
@Wolfgabe "things would need to be changed"
No. They don't. Cultural differences shouldn't have any effect on anything. This weird obsession with not offending white people, or not upsetting white parents, or altering "Japanese things" in games so that white people will get the joke/reference/point that certain Japanese video game companies have is so bizarre to me. What Hollywood film is ever changed to suit a certain audience's cultural makeup? Practically none. They subtitle it and that's that. So the guy watching in Hong Kong doesn't get the joke about Rabbis performing circumcision. Who cares?
This Chris Pranger sounds like an ass, towing the company line just like Reggie, and Bill, and every other NoA guy who thinks he has all the answers and that the fans know nothing. Hey Chris Pranger, how about you not worry about localization, and just tell your bosses to remove their retarded region lock so we can make up our own minds?
Xenoblade Chronicles sold a million copies after its western release. It only sold around 160,000 copies.in Japan alone. That's not that much for a game of this magnitude.
There is resentment in his voice that Sega of America had under Bernie.
Xenoblade was such a risk they decided to make a sequel, come on if ut was that much of a riak thwy wouldn't have bothered. Fire Emblem Awakening is another instance, I bet they didnt predict that would sell as well as it did either.
They aren't right every time
@Technosphile I'm willing to bet he has more answers than you do.
If localization is that hard, why don't they remove region lock? I was thinking about importing US 3DS just to play games unreleased (or released late) in Europe, but I don't want to give Nintendo my money.
Another thing that just crossed my mind. I wonder if in Europe we get the benefit from having a proper Japanese nintendo presence in Satoru Shibata. Whereas in America they only have Reggie and no obvious Japanese presence, things seem to have improved imensely in Europe in recent years and declined in the USA on the face of things.
@Technosphile Happy to help!
There are some things that I don't understand were not localised, like the Club Nintendo Picross titles for 3DS.
They are small titles with a good appeal, Nintendo themed Picross puzzles and the localisation effort is minimal.
I suppose the only thing to worry about is some of the more obscure properties featured in some of the puzzles.
Things like Captain Rainbow though? That bombed even in Japan, they only sold about 22k copies roughly.
Lies and excuses, I expected better from you Nintendo.
Small indie companies and even studio like NISA and XSeed managed to localize way more niche titles than Nintendo yearly and those companies have very small budgets compared to all the money Nintendo has.
Nintendo is just using excuses, he should have stated that priorites at Nintendo aren't for localization but not that is "hard or more complicated"
NoA seriously needs to improve on their marketing abilities.
Look, I understand how localizing it here can be challenging, but marketing? You see the Japanese Commercials being the absolute best in that and when you see the commercials here, its only having kids to advertise it. Seriously, even the original DS commercials were amazing for their time so why can't you do that?
Normally I find a lot of these tidbits are complete BS like the "VC games take a lot of resource!" stuff, but this guy speaks the truth.
Things may seem popular on message boards but ultimately we're a tiny, tiny fraction of the market. Wonderful 101 and Bayonetta 2 were considered big games by every online gaming community I visit, but flopped hard. Kickstarter is another example. You think Capcom feels like idiots for not making another MM game after MN9 did so well raising funds? Only 67000 people funded that. That's nowhere near enough sales to break even, let alone make money. Yooka Layleevand Shenmue 3 are in the same boat.
I'm just going to throw this out there and say maybe making the systems not region locked might help.
In some ways I agree with his points like Captain Rainbow where as interesting as that game looked I doubt it would make its money back. On the other hand though remember when NOA still refused to publish Xenoblade for forever in America despite it doing well in other regions and english voice acting already been done in Europe? Mother 3 can't be to hard now with digital distribution (I understand not releasing it when the gba was dying but now fans have translated it and I bet would be happy to give Nintendo the translation for free). Heck digital distribution now makes it so all you need is subtitles and the people who want that game can buy it with little risk to the company.
I understand Nintendo is a company who wants profits and not all these games will be million sellers but there are a few extra options to keep it cheap. Especially with digital distribution now or not region locking the system the game that is already made can still come out to the minority who want it.
(Also I remember reading somewhere Nintendo didn't want to bring smash 64 to the states since they thought mascot fighters would not do well in other regions. Can you imagine how bad that would be if that happened?).
Stop region blocking consoles and then let the consumer decide if they want to import or not. Nintendo can moan all they want about costs but when you don't allow consumers to import games you don't deserve any sympathy.
Also why are publishers having no problem releasing niche titles in the west for Vita. They must be making some kind of profit or they would stop releasing these games.
Same for the 3rd party 3DS publishers.
Nintendo, Failing to realise that YES it may cost too much at that point in time, but in 10 years time when you do a graphics overhaul and re release it on another system, the work is already done. That is why the remaster market exists, also surely they'll have sold more of Xenoblade (it already has a 3D remaster) now that it has a digital version, although that needed to be released in America, because that was the territory that was struggling to actually get copies (demand out stripped supply).
In the U.K at least, I mention xenoblade chronicles and only 2 of my friends have even heard of it, an even they haven't actually bothered to buy it because of how Japanese it is (already put some great feedback on how to 'sell' xenoblade in the west when I claimed the stars for it). So yeah it is incredibly niche, but a graphical touch up and a few western designs thrown in will make it actually sell when they decide to remaster it in 10 years time.
Nintendo needs to think long term.
I don't think they need to defend their record here, anything that is a no-brainer for localisation they do localise. Everything I see that people debate over falls definitely into the niche area where they are right to make a business case for it (even stuff like Mother3 where there is a very vocal niche clamouring for it).
Also Nintendo cannot possibly in their right minds complain about using Subtitles, 90% of their games involve heavy reading with no voiced dialog, it's part of the reason some of their games don't sell as well as they should.
Perhaps instead Nintendo should create a specific voice acting and localisation studio, that handles everything across all games, a multicultural, multi lingual group of localisers used for every Nintendo published game.
Once that team is assembled (they will already have pretty much most of these people already) in any quiet periods they can give other companies a hand localising games (not necessarily on Nintendo platforms). Have your hand in some other pies an make localising much cheaper because it's essentially Inhouse.
Localisation shouldn't be considered a barrier in todays Gaming imo.
Sigh. A lot of armchair analysts.
My take on this: Probably remove region locking... as bad an idea it may be.
A few points I'd like to make:
1. Nintendo took a gamble on Xenoblade, at the end of the Wii's lifespan. It wasn't just about translating it to English, but French and Spanish and German etc... it succeeded, but what if it hadn't? Nintendo od Europe would of had to foot the bill. Congratulate them.
2. Just because a game get's localized doesn't mean retailers will stock it, no matter if the fanbase says they want it.
3. If you put a team on localizing, that means they can't work on something else. So not only could you make a loss on game A, but you could lose out on game B.
4. Nintendo ARE localizing a lot more games recently (Fire Emblem Fates, Xenoblade X, SMTFE, Fatal Frame, Inazuma 11, Yokai Watch etc) that wouldn't have been localized before. So why are we complaining about Wii games not being localized now?
@MrGawain People love to complain. Baffling, but true.
"And people don’t like finding out that their fanbase is actually too small to justify the costs of the thing they want."
I like this guy.
Is anything he says here new to people?
Most people don't understand that behind the decision to bring a game to the west there are a lot (and I mean, A Lot) of analysis before the decision is taken, and those analysis aren't cheap. Plus, you have to think about the time used - if these guys weren't working on localizing the game, maybe they would be focused on doing something else which would bring aditional revenue. Is the cost of localizing the game too high? Will they even break even with the copies sold?
You have to remeber, most companies do business from a risk averse position, they don't like gambles that could make them lose money. The guy is right, the fanbase is small, and usually the company does not even break even. It is a harsh reality, but its what we have.
If I could buy shares of Nintendo, I'd put my money where my mouth is, and state emphatically that software moves hardware.
These localization debacles do not help the game droughts that occur sporadically. Rhythm Heaven: The Best+ could have been the big holiday title for the west in 2015 for the 3DS, and Fatal Frame V could prove to Koei Tecmo that the audience for Fatal Frame is most alive on Nintendo platforms.
I could go on.
My point is, I recognize that not a lot of investors share my medium-term view.
I understand that my proposals may burn through more cash that they take in. However, my view is that the company has to take risks in order to get advantages in the long term.
Titles like Taiko no Tatsujin could fill the gap the Wii U gap in terms of rhythm games - which, in my opinion, is ridiculous - Puyo Puyo Tetris could appeal to the same audience as Dr. Luigi. Code Name STEAM out on the Wii U, and marketed correctly, could provide the basis for a Valkyria Chronicles game on the platform.
Again, I could go on.
Remember, software moves hardware. I got a Wii U because of The Wonderful 101...on sale.
Hundreds of hours of really feeling it.
Larger companies have to consider if it is worth using the same amount of manpower to localise a niche title when it could be better spent localising a title that is likely to sell more and make more money. Smaller publishers manage it because they are focused only on their niche but for a big publisher like Nintendo they have to make more money to cover their company overheads and ensure they can continue bringing lots of different titles over.
"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."
This quote is a perfect rebuttal to the post by @TheWPCTraveler
Some people just don't get it....
This is a typical "Mexican Standoff" argument.
Pranger definitely has a point, but so do the fans. Nintendo cannot simply risk investing in localizations that might not pay off, but at the same time, they vastly dramatize the costs of translating a game. These costs could be easily kept in check if the translation happened in tandem with game development. Also, the "Nintendo hates money" argument is largely due to the completely nonsensical region-lock, not just the lack of surprising games.
But hey, it's not just Nintendo. Most companies are too cowardly by now to try and establish a trend, which shows when looking at the sheer number of genres completely absent or barely covered on the latest consoles.
Two solutions to this, make more games in the west, by western devs so you don't need tfor localisation and remove region locking so people can just buy what they want and not bother you.
People bring up subtitling as an option a lot, but the reality is that again this is a niche of a niche. The amount of hate that Koei-Tecmo got for announcing a localised release of Samurai Warriors IV for PS3/4 on Facebook without a dub option is amazing to me. I'd have thought fans of the series would have happy just to get it localised, but apparently not. A weird game like Captain Rainbow wouldn't justify the cost to dub, but then would it justify the cost to sub either isn't a small question.
3 entities NoJ, NoA, NoE all on the same team (they have one pot of money which is back in Japan) not co operating to launch games globally. Japan goes to the trouble of actually Developing the game (the biggest risk here), game is considered by NoE an NoA for localisation. If they don't think it'll sell they don't fund it (with the same Japanese pot that built it). Am I missing how stupid as a business standpoint that is, you make a product but don't launch it globally? in any capacity.
Like many others have said, take the region lock off. Or simply launch the game Digitally at least (in Japanese if necessary), it'll encourage people to actually take some time to learn a bit of Japanese that are keen to try the game. the localisation can later be patched in for Official release (pretty much what happens now).
This would make more sense as you'll still get a few sales from the multi lingual gamers (and the developers work would still be on display to a global market).Then when it get localised, everyone else can have their turn. Maybe Nintendo should try an encourage Multi lingual gamers?
Who knows it might create a trend of people picking up some Japanese, because they are actually exposed to the language (I've picked up some German from Miiverse for example). Nintendo acting in a way to break down cultural barriers, now there's a novel approach to broadening your audience.
He sounds grumpy. Reaallly grumpy.
Look at Fire Emblem: Awakening here. That would have sunk its localization costs if they hadn't properly advertised it, and as a result, it sold piles of copies. If Nintendo actually advertises these games which come over, they will sell properly, since there is a dedicated market for this, and saying that the fanbase is too small is actually rather ignorant when taking into account the large portion of JRPG's which get released yearly and which evidently profit. In a market that's crowded by games, you have to put the effort in to publicize your game - you can't just expect it to sell on it's own and then say it didn't do well enough.
It's obvious that some games which people want localized are going to be localized into a tiny market, and thus not sell very well. But that's the surprising minority of these localized games people want. He uses Xenoblade up there - I firstly find it hard to believe that it selling over a million copies means it hasn't met the costs of localization, and my second point is that if they hadn't localized it, then X probably wouldn't get localized, and they're trying to brand that a system seller. Games need to be advertised to sell, and they need to be established to sell. Bringing something over with no effort or investment in your product means it probably is going to fail.
Of course, ditching Europe and not bringing the game you've already spent time and money localizing to a second market where it could sell even more copies just sounds like they're setting it up to fail. But we all know Nintendo's policies on Europe are incredibly backwards anyway.
I love how he basically says, "we know what we're doing, it's risky to localise, it costs a lot of money" and then all the comments are "I know better than you, bring everything to Europe"
Lots of factors at work here.
Translation and localization is expensive and typically more difficult than people expect. Especially if voice acting is involved.
NoA is trying to make the most money possible with limited resources. Maybe they can be profitable with Game_A, but not as profitable as if those resources work on Game_B instead because it takes less work. They choose Game_B.
But this is still a bad set of excuses being thrown out. NoE has shown more guts than NoA on multiple fronts, and generally been rewarded. NoA didn't release Fatal Frame or Pandora's Tower or Another Code R despite those games all being translated already. (Granted, there would still be cost... but it's not a resource issue and risks are much lower.) NoA didn't want to bring out Xenoblade either.
This isn't just a localization problem - it's a management issue where they aren't interested in catering to (or building a base of) fans of certain genres. And that's incredibly disappointing.
But hey, NIS and Atlus and XSeed are awesome. So at least we have the little guys filing in the gaps that Nintendo considers not worthwhile.
I don't see why people want a Localization for Mother 3 so much. Just get a rom and a translation patch (there are tons of great ones out there) and you're good to go!
Same with captain rainbow, I'm sure someone has made a rom and translation patch for that game too.
it just seems so obvious to me.
Stuff like this is why I try to increase the fanbase for games like Dragon Quest. These games are awesome, but for some reason, nobody plays them
Fair point. one thing I must say though, is you can't just go out and "learn a little Japanese". That is a very, very large investment of time and effort, especially if you re hoping to play a Japanese RPG. Thats a lot of dialogue!
How are people getting anger or rudeness from these answers? If someone isn't kissing your arse in an answer it doesm't mean those apply, It's just an honest answer.
This guy hates money so much he's jeopardising his own employment to tell us about it!
And failures like Codename Steam is why they don't take more risks. Its a good game and people just don't buy it. We would be had 2 to 3 more Advanced Wars by now and they all rated very well yet not enough people buy them. We have only ourselves to blame.
Great example. Couldn't have said it better myself!
Wow...a lot of angry comments here. He has a point, though. Localizing costs a lot, and in some cases it's probably not even worth the risk because there aren't enough people that would buy the game. I get it. You guys don't like his answer. But sometimes, the truth hurts.
@Noelemahc Um... what Japaneses games that belong to Nintendo get localized for NA and then not for Europe? From my experience as of late, Nintendo localizes to Europe before NA with a ton of games such as the rpgs, strategy rpgs and such and even some non RPG ones.. Perfect examples are Xenoblade, Last Story, Pandora's Tower (these three almost never made it to NA), Yoshi Wolly World, Fire Emblem, multple VC title and E-shop titles and so on. Heck, even Amiibo are now going to Europe and restocked before NA even gets a release date for them and Amiibo are not region locked and it should only be a matter of shipping them. Sure, yes some come to NA first but it is more back and forth, usually Europe first, then NA as of late. (Really, these are becoming stupid as they should all be released around the same time (like within the same month) in this day and age).
As for Rune Factory or Shin Megami Tensei, Nintendo isn't really in control of for those because they are not owned by Nintendo. Rune Factory is 100% Marvelous' decision and it was them who decided not to localize the game in Europe... at least not until years later. Shin Megami Tensei is up to Atlus (Sega). Nintendo can't really just come out and order them to localize them so those being so late in Europe is not Nintendos fault, but the 3rd party.
This is the kind of stuff that fans are so blind to. That one line was excellent: "people don’t like finding out that their fanbase is actually too small to justify the costs of the thing they want". That's the truth. Because it's important to you, it feels huge to you. And you find other people who feel the same way and you feel like a majority. But with some exceptions, that's usually not the case. And with the text, it's not quite as simple as translating a book word for word. A game is interactive, so there's context to be considered, multiple branching choices, then it all has to be consistent. That's a monumental task. So even with a game like Xenoblade that has impressive sales for a JRPG, it likely did not make as much money as people think.
Atlus manages to localize many so called "niche" games and make money doing it. Why is it that Atlus can do this but bigger companies like Nintendo and Square Enix supposedly can't? Voice acting could be part of it. However, I think Atlus is better at managing the cost of localization so that they can get it done without breaking the bank. The big companies do not know how to do anything in a cost efficient way.
for people citing atlus as a good localizer, didn't they go bankrupt not too long ago?
Also being honest, if xenoblade was subbed not dubbed I wouldn't have bought it
Yeah but that initial exposure is important. If you can learn things, like, start, run, jump, option etc reading the Game menus themselves (which you have other menus to compare against) you can at least enjoy elements of a Fully Japanese game Before it is totally localised. This will depend on the game, for instance it would be harder to play Xenoblade in Japanese than a Mario game for example.
By giving the option, your at least making the game accessible in some capacity (instead of the region lock) and also giving an Multi lingual Audience the opportunity to contribute (they could actually help localise the game to other languages) to 'niche' sales, better one sale than not releasing the game at all in any form.
The retail ethos of an empty shelf is a wasted opportunity to sell something applies in this respect.
In any way I still think bringing the games fans together, regardless of language and country should be a key consideration in gaming in the future.
Here's my issue, there are these games available on Nintendo systems not available in NoA; currently there is a perception of Wii U having no games here in the west, one way to curb that perception is to actually bring games over
If you are too picky with what games you choose to bring over, it only perpetuates the perception that "Wii U has no games;" and that really isn't healthy for business.
"Guys, I went to Game A's forum, and EVERYONE was talking about it! It'll sell millions!"
Confirmation bias, ladies and gentlemen.
Also, while "sub only" probably wouldn't make me NOT buy a game, I do appreciate dubbing efforts (as long as there's actual effort). And most games with dubs seem fine to me... meh.
Region locking probably should go however.
The entire article was about what people in the comments section were going to say immediately after reading the article...incredible. It goes to show how resistant to education people are after they have ardently assumed something for so long
@ikki5 All of those are valid points, but Nintendo does have a say in what gets localized, it can nudge or quota publishers and it localizes third party titles by the dozen for Korea and China and Europe when localizers for Americas don't.
In fact, it was initially promised that they'd be the ones to bring SMTIV over to us before behind-the-scenes messes happened and we had to wait for NIS to do it.
I wasn't aiming at Nintendo's own localization effort - without it, Europe would be out of games to play, i feel - but at the fact that there's a lot of "who cares about worldwide availability, we'll bring it to NA only" sentiment among ostensibly international releasers like SEGA or CAPCOM (that said, the big C hasn't shafted us like others did).
The efforts of NIS feel like charity, really.
(B-sides: regionlock still has to go, and hacker efforts clearly indicate that Nintendo's early on claims about physical lockouts a-la NES10 were misinformation, there's no actual reason the 3DS or WiiU can't be region-free, eShop and all, a-la the Vita which can visit stores of any regions with minimal effort).
I'd like to point out my favorite title
Ossu Tatakae Ouendan!!
a) two games were released for the DS in Japan. I have both of them. They're great. I don't know a lot of Japanese, but they're fine as is. The music is great, the scenarios are great, the insane fascist cheerleader squad thing is great, and it offered one of the first rhythm titles for the DS.
b) I don't know why the team that made Ossu Tatakae Ouendan decided to do a western release, but they did: Elite Beat Agents. This game is actually kinda worse than Tatakae, and the big culprit? Music. The team licensed the Village People, they licensed Michael Jackson (while he was still alive, which should have been a crime), they licensed whatever pop songs they could for the cheapest money possible. End result? meh.
The takeaway: if a game is great, and the market research shows there's not enough of a market to justify localization (and it's not chock full of text, like Phoenix Wright or 999)? eff it, just release it in the US as is and see if it sticks. I know I'd love to try that muscle-guys-busting-through-walls game, and I don't think I'd care if there was a wall of Japanese to wade through. sure, you're not going to have a hit on your hands right away, but you might have an 'indie hit', and keep a good reputation for quirk.
But everyone wants to play Mother 3 tho. Im pretty sure if you're getting asked about it every E3, and release the FIRST 2 GAMES but don't release one of the best and last, people want it. Plus this doesn't explain why people in America don't get the New 3DS (the one with faceplates).
@Noelemahc Yes, they can nudge and talk but they cannot control if the 3rd party decides to bail or not. the only time they really can is if they helped support the game's development through money or through actual development. Nintendo can make a promise but if the 3rd party decides something else, Nintendo will not be able to keep that promise. Nintendo wouldn't be at fault though sadly, people will blame Nintendo when stuff like that happens. As for 3rd parties saying "let's go America only, yes, they do that. Why? because it is cheaper to translate to 2-4 languages vs 10-15+ but don't go blaming Nintendo or getting mad at Nintendo saying Nintendo favours the region that isn't yours when a 3rd party does this.
I read this article in hopes of understanding why NoA hasn't localized Metroid Zero Mission but soon discovered it has nothing to do with VC games at all. Personally, I don't really care if half the games in Japan don't get localized here. The guy from the Treehouse speaks the truth in that more often than not there's no economic justification for localizing half of those games.
Except for Monster Hunter....
Monster Hunter games should always be instantly sent West regardless of financial cost or circumstance.
Or here is an option, take the region lock OFF
I mean honestly, then everyone could get the games that they want and we wouldn't have a problem. Sure, it would suck because they wouldn't be in the native language of some, but for those like me who have studied and continue to work through learning other languages, well we can work through it.
He sounds so cranky in this,but you know what if i had to read alot of Nintendo fans comments at a daily basis. I would be cranky as well, so i don't blame him.
Here's one point he can't argue, there are games out for the Wii VCs right now, perfectly translated and ready to show up on the Wii U VC eshop... yet they aren't doing anything about it. So I ask again, why do you hate money Nintendo?
@OneBagTravel You make a good point. Another complaint from Nintendo is that creating VC games takes time and takes resources away from other projects. Well, based on that information there should never be another Urban Champion or Donkey Kong Jr. Math game released on VC ever again.
I don't think it's wrong to expect Nintendo to act like a big time video game company; It was my impression that they were still a multi-million dollar corporation. How do smaller companies go through the localization process while making a profit, and why can't N do that? It may be that Nintendo has some massive financial bloat in it's localization process that needs to be trimmed down or it's general process reviewed.
I suppose the fellow is speaking freely and off the cuff, but he sounds like he's speaking for a five-guy indie dev team instead of Nintendo..
We get it, however there's still a lot of nonsense going on at Nintendo. Yeah I know Nintendo would do anything to avoid taking a hit, but to not want to release a game in NA when it's already localized in EU? Do they really enjoy destroying their image that much?
Also, yeah it's expensive, but how can small companies like IFI spend so much money paying voice actors and translating their games yet make less sales than a Nintendo game AND STILL continue bringing games over? Sure their grammar and editing needs some work and certain people over there like to destroy the original scripts (cough N**k D***r cough), but their games have TONS of text to go through. Much more than a Fire Emblem game at least. More than The Last Story as well.
I highly doubt they would go through the trouble of releasing a game in NA or UK, without translating it first. The consumer shouldn't have to go through the trouble of learning how to read a game menu in a different language, after buying a game in their own country. That wouldn't make sense, and most people would not be willing to put in the work to learn it.
I have played games in Japanese before, and while it is definitely doable it can be quite frustrating, and I can see how it would turn a lot of people off. I think the only people who would be willing to go through the frustrating process of playing Japanese game, would be the extremely devoted fans, and there just aren't enough of those to make it worth the hassle/expense of releasing the game in a different region.
IMO, if you want to play a Japanese game enough, it should be your responsibility to import it, and learn the menu. Or like I said earlier, for retro games you can just download a rom and a translation patch.
Why not release games with subtitles? Nintendo refuse to do anything other than subs in Zelda.
Why not release niche games digitally? Fatal Frame looks like they're close to grasping the concept.
Why not DITCH THE REGION LOCK THEN? if Nintendo don't want to release a game in a territory allow fans to import it.
Or even, why not take a hit every now send then? Lose a few quid on a niche title to keep your fanbase happy. See the big picture. Madness I know but others will happily take that fanbase away
This still doesn't really explain why Nintendo refuses to localize often requested projects, like Mother 3 for a VC release. I think I prefer Xseed Games' interviews on localization, compared to this sort of grumpy response from Nintendo. Just look up the interviews on Xseed localizing the Ys series titles, including podcast interviews (such as those on RPGFan); it's incredible how much work they do, and how much passion translation workers need to go through a big project. One can't just brush off translation opportunities with a marketing response, as Nintendo has done here. There's other crucial logistics involved, such as just how much time it takes to devote a team of workers to 'this' task and not 'that' one, how much text must be changed to make sense without being lost in translation, etc.
@bezerker99 Speaking of Monster Hunter, didn't that franchise go to Nintendo because Sony refused to localize it? On the flip side, we have Dragon Quest slowly making its way back to PlayStation because Sony is willing to localize it while Nintendo isn't?
@Sparx No, ATLUS did not go bankrupt. The parent company which owned ATLUS, Index Holdings, went bankrupt. ATLUS was doing relatively fine, is still doing relatively fine under SEGA, and has nothing to do with the mishandlings of their previous parent company. ATLUS has been operating in the black for all this while, so they certainly are a model company for consistently successful large localization efforts that don't need overwhelming budgets or huge sales numbers to continue functioning.
Seems reasonable. A good example is Fire Emblem. Fire Emblem Radiant Dawn(2nd playthrough has a longer even more detailed script) and Fire Emblem Awakening(If you pick silent Robin who has no lines and characters interpret what he/she is thinking/feeling) actually have two different scripts in Japan which are cut in the western versions.
When they localised them the option for silent Robin(where the characters) was removed and they scrapped the longer Radiant Dawn script completely. Games with lots of text fare the worst, it's no surprise that games like Mother 3, Fire Emblem 12 never made it and Xenoblade was doubted because they require far more localisation costs despite being lower selling games.
When you take into account manpower and costs it probably becomes hard to justify especially when Nintendo's strongest sellers typically have little text and actually would cost less to localize than their weaker selling games. As such it requires a game like Fire Emblem Awakening where the game has features that will make it likely to sell more for it to be justified and even then part of the script is cut out.
In otherwords its unreasonable to expect them to always localize a game wherein the result of higher costs and time spent is that they'll be punished by the market because it won't sell well. I'm guessing they'd rather see the gaps between their bigger games releases in each region decrease than be held up by games very few people want.
Codename : S.T.E.A.M is a good example, it's a solid game and certainly up to Advance Wars and Fire Emblem caliber, had even more voice acting than Fire Emblem Awakening, they took a risk with it and it bombed.
The biggest argument he brings up to back the 'colossal costs' argument is voice dubbing. Here's the thing, you can bring over games with just translated text and cut the necessary budget for localization to - I'd wager - a tenth of the grand total or more.
That's not to say every niche title would be a justifiable release in the west, which is absurd. However, if not for being caught up in dubbing to English, quite a few of those scrapped localization plans could have been realities instead.
"“Why do you guys hate money?” We don’t."
Not releasing the smaller Nintendo 3DS in North America and continuing to region lock a PORTABLE console seems to imply otherwise. When I look at the JPNeShop and see pages upon pages of cool 3DS themes/exclusive downloads/etc. while America gets nothing outside of general trash you have to seriously wonder the other, real reasons as to why they don't localize.
I understand you can't localize every single game but come on man, there are many games out there that do not have huge amounts of voice acting or Animal Crossing/JRPG amounts of text that you haven't explained why they can't be localized. And since 3DSes are region locked you can't act all huffy when people complain that they can't play what they want since you set this up in the first place. There are ways to subsidize the cost of localization which Pranger conveniently doesn't mention (No seriously, you do not need voice acting for everything).
And really now, is there any proof that region locking reduced piracy to the point where it's cost effective to continue doing?
@PlywoodStick well then, learn something new everyday, I am curious about how much it costs to localize games though
All these problems wouldn't exist if there is no region lock. Just saying.
@Dr_Lugae The funny thing about FE12 is that it took a few people over the course of between 1-2 years, on volunteer efforts, to fully translate and offer a patch for FE12. They did what Nintendo couldn't, in a reasonable amount of time. Hell, even the English patch for the original SNES Mystery of the Emblem has been downloaded over 12,000 times, which is more than can be said for a lot of wordy eShop releases. I think Nintendo missed yet another opportunity there, since Shadow Dragon did well. (Despite not being all that great)
@Wolfgabe The issue is that Nintendo are poor judges of what would be good to import. Playing it ultra conservative means they've avoided potential disasters like Captain Rainbow but also blown it by overlooking Operation Rainfall (ie. Xenoblade Chronicles, The Last Story, and Pandora's Tower). By now they should have developed some means to better gauge what would be a hit in the West.
Wow! There is some MAJOR denial in the comments section for this article. I'm SO glad most of you are experts at localizing and think localizing is super easy and Nintendo should totally gamble with every game that people want to have localized. facepalm
This is why Chris Pranger is fudging annoyed because of gamers, like many of you, who think they know all and make localization sound like a piece of cake, when in reality, it's not. And for crying out loud, quit complaining about the region lock crap. The Nintendo fan base truly is some of the whiniest individuals I have ever had the displeasure of meeting. It makes me ashamed to be a Nintendo fan myself given how pompous and whiny the community is sometimes.
@Bat-Moves98 people arehappy to import Japanese games and struggle through the language barrier. Nintendo just won't allow them to do this as they continue with the region lock BS!
@Syrek what about the people that cannot accept that Nintendo do so somethings wrong.
The guys who scream that Nintendo are right to region lock consoles or the people that say voice chat isnt needed.
I really don't have any empathy for their stance on Xenoblade. When the Wii came out, everyone was begging for large, big budget games on it. I remember E3 2006, with the 'on the show floor' interviews one of the third party studios was asked "is this coming to the Wii?" and responding, "that's the question we get most now." There was a lot of demand for games like that but Nintendo never gave them a chance, and third parties had already abandoned the platform for major games in development.
It's like what happened to No More Heroes 2. Ubisoft published that in North America and assumed it wouldn't sell, so the number of copies put on shelves was almost nothing. I remember going to Best Buy on launch day to pick it up, and asked where it is. He said they got 5 copies and it sold out in 30 minutes.
They were probably right about Xenoblade not making money if they released it at the time they did, but to me it feels like they dug their own grave. It's not all Nintendo's fault, but if you don't invest you won't get a return.
@Syrek What about anyone in the American Armed Forces who might want to take a 3DS for their downtime, if they go overseas (for example, maybe Europe), but they can't connect to a foreign eShop to DL titles, and can't use foreign games? Are they whiny complainers, too? Good luck trying to convince people of that. You'd probably get a marketing award of the year if you could pull that off. (Or a public crucifixion, if you tried talking like that in the American Deep South.)
That is a good point.
@PlywoodStick I'm aware of the translations for Fire Emblem but the 3DS was in full swing, it'd be dubious releasing something that wasn't Pokemon that long in the DS's lifecycle.
Also the eShop access isn't region locked, if you've got a US 3DS you connect to the US eShop anywhere in the world. Anyone complaining about it is making up things without checking whether its true.
@Dr_Lugae FE12 came out in July 2010, almost a year before the 3DS launched. If Nintendo had spent resources planning and localizing it, FE12 could have released internationally by 2011, which could have tided over the 3DS' lackluster library at the time. There were still a few big translation projects for DS games released after that, like Devil Survivor 2 in 2012 NA / 2013(!) EU, so it wouldn't have been too late to release it back then.
Good to know about domestic eShop access not being restricted, I missed that. Though the foreign games and foreign eShop point still stands. (Any PSP can connect to Japanese PSN from anywhere, for example)
I so glad he has been blunt about this. Vocal minorities are still just that and even still there is a percentage of them that still won't buy day one. A company can't bank on that. If you want it to improve spread the word and get every gamer you know to buy it.
Or you could just import...that's what I do. Japanese is a lovely language (not being sarcastic).
The fans who wanted xenoblade would have taken subtitles for the voice acting, and I'm sure the people who are asking for captain rainbow would too. You don't have to go all out on voice acting and whatnot, just bare minimum translation.
@SMEXIZELDAMAN There are many people that won't play/watch without dubbing. Just as there are many that prefer subs only (I'm in that camp so long as I can turn the subs off, although I'll buy no matter what if I want the game) and that sort of additional fracture of base can cost sales...and can keep a game from snagging at least some of the potential mainstream to make up for any vaporsales (people that beg but don't buy or wait for a sale). For that matter some prefer dubbing that is regional. For instance It took me a while to get used to Xenoblade's dubbed track (I bought the wii game in Japanese as a backup) because I am used to American or Canadian voices and I PERSONALLY find English-accented voices to be grating (I'm ok with the rest of the UK oddly enough).
Honestly, if it were the case that sales wouldn't diminish, every game from Japan could get the "just sub it and go" treatment to save money. Could you imagine the backlash if Dark Souls were only subbed, or FF? Back before cut scenes and voice acting you could get away with that (leaving scenery text in tact ...such as with Okami which is very annoying by the way because the English version truncates names but they are correct on maps.) but now...nobody would be happy...as usual.
Atlus localize a lot of games, some with full voice acting even and their sales seems to never pass Nintendo's own published games. I think Nintendo just don't realise how big the niche market that exists within itself, the Xenoblade case should convince them better and now we see them more happy to localise (Bravely Default/Second, Fantasy Life, Fatal Frame, etc) and hopefully in future too.
I was mainly talking about non-locked older games (Mother 3, Fire Emblem: Binding Blade, etc...), but people have even found ways around playing imported current gen games by just buying a system from that country. I would never do that, and I'm not saying its fair but that might be the only option to some people.
Is it just me or do that team (whoever was talking in the interveiw/podcast) need a new spokesperson?
Or was that just poorly written from sounds to text?
Sure, I understood the point, but there is like a milion ways to make that sound way more professional than that.
This was almost at the level of Mega Man Legends 3...
One of the better things Ive read today.
@Yorumi It isn't an excuse however. Why sub a game for a small group? Just for PR or to shut up a vocal minority? From a business perspective it is poor judgement to localize and sub a game with a decent sized budget (plus somebody has to market the game as well) just to appease a niche market.
Please don't misunderstand me: I'm in that vocal minority. I'm sure I've complained about region locking somewhere around here and that's considering I buy multiple region systems. However I think the business risk reasons they give are sound because when I list off the Japanese games I play to fellow gamers even on the internet I rarely find anyone that plays the same. Meaning there aren't a ton of people for devs to recoup their money from. Which is why I import. Before anyone goes "well not everyone can afford to do so" gaming is a hobby and an expensive one at that, either you put money into it or you don't but don't complain about the choice you make.
I think my biggest issue is sure it sucks but it is what it is...can we please stop beating a dead horse? You can play those games if you really want to. I hope (although I doubt it) that once people realize that localization isn't cut and dry that they will chill out.
"And for crying out loud, quit complaining about the region lock crap"
No. Great argument tho....oh hang on you didn't make one.
"whiniest individual....pompous... whiny"
Irony, come on in
@Jayvir I think Pranger is referring to the time before Xenoblade Chronicles was localized (anywhere). If that's the case, then he's referring to NoA's market research of the game before its release outside of Japan, which obviously indicated it wasn't worth the cost of releasing it in North America, especially considering how much it would cost to pay for all of its voice acting. Since NoE took it upon themselves to fund all the costly features of English-language localization, localization costs were no longer a boundary to international release, but poor sales predictions still were. It's likely due to Operation Rainfall being a viral phenomenon that international interest for this game became much greater than initially predicted. But it seems he is referring to predictions of a time before Operation Rainfall became a big thing.
I think NOA is mildly xenophobic and doesn't seem to understand that most fans of J-games are also fans of anime and Japanese voice acting. If Fatal Frame 5 is dubbed in English without the option for Japanese audio, even though it is the game I am MOST looking forward to since buying my Wii U AND new 3DS XL, I won't buy it. Not only that, I will definitely switch to Playstation next console cycle. As much as I love Nintendo and Mario games, my goodwill is running on empty and I need to get my J-fix somehow. (And speaking of Mario, the new SMB U was a disgrace--same music and graphics as its Wii predecessor. For shame, Nintendo. For shame)
@Morph I think you have a good point there. NOE has improved big time under Shibata's leadership. NOA just hasnt been up to par since Howard Lincoln departed.
@warsong I was reminded last night that many of our elected leaders (and therefore the populace who votes for them) hold some degree of xenophobia. It wouldn't surprise me too much if perhaps some of the people in NoA are at least slightly xenophobic, too.
@Nico07 I highly doubt Nintendo would approve of a fan translation. They'd want a translation over which they have personal control. Throw in the massive Japanese cultural references and the still relatively niche popularity of the Mother series in the West, and you can see why they didn't do it. I bet they lost a bunch of money when they did localize Mother 2 as Earthbound, and while the series has gained visibility in the West since then through word of mouth and Smash Bros., it wouldn't have been enough as it was in the case of Fire Emblem. Although, the fact that they have now localized Mother 1 does provide a measure of future hope.
As for Xenoblade Chronicles, while they ultimately underestimated its market, the sheer scope of the game and all of the voiced dialogue did make it a rather expensive localization. If there wasn't any voice acting, the probably would've done it no problem. Still, as an epic yet ultimately mostly traditional (just with some novel and unique new gameplay mechanics) JRPG with hardly any cultural issues, I think they really underestimated its appeal, as several JRPG franchises such as Pokémon, Final Fantasy, and Tales have always sold rather well in the West.
As for those suggesting that they just provide subtitles, you guys are the very niche market to which they refer. The very people who would be willing to settle for subs are a rather small collection of hardcore animé (and the like) fans with interest in niche games that still wouldn't be worth the cost to localize even without touching the voice acting, especially since such games are usually full of Japanese culture that once again only that same small group of Japanophiles would prefer in the original context.
@Technosphile I'm sorry, but you're rather in the minority here. While an argument could be made about possible race issues, they still don't want to get sued over it. Meanwhile, most people (myself included) do want the various Japanese cultural references properly localized. It's not just jokes; some rather basic references just make no sense to most Westerners.
As for subs vs. dubs, I can respect a desire to hear the voices as originally intended, and some dubs are rather poor through either the translation or the quality of the voice actors. However, if it is a good dub like in "Xenoblade Chronicles," the majority of gamers (once again, myself included) do prefer to just listen to the lines in their native language. It's not about which is objectively better but of which best appeals to the masses, otherwise VCR cassettes would've never supplanted Beta in the pre-digital video market.
Mother 1 was localized 20 plus years ago already. It's been confirmed for years that ROM wasn't a fan translation by one of the members of the localization team.
There was no real localization done. All they did was dump the ROM onto an official Nintendo emulator.
What a tool. I thought Xseed was thrilled with Last Story's sales? And surely Xenoblade sold better? Here's a crazy idea: use some of the money from mom's playing Wii bowling to pay for Xenoblade. Condescending idiot. And anyway, now you're doing a sequel and everyone knew all along WiiU was a dumb name. Accept reality.
@Jayvir It sold below 900k copies. Don't know about the new 3DS version but I think that it still does not add to 1m. Also, a lot of those copies would have been sold in JAPAN, not the West. The cost for European localisation may not have made NoE enough money, you know.
@TTGlider You're nit getting some important factors:
1. XSEED paid barely anything for TLS's localisation. That was Nintendo of Europe. XSEED basically piggybacked off of NoE's efforts.
2. Rising Star were raving about No More Heroes's sales in Europe. It sold 160k. That's not a lot, but what works for smaller companies like XSEED and Rising Star doesn't necessarily work for larger companies like Nintendo.
@PlywoodStick Yes, that's true--another reason that localization is even as labor-intensive as it is. Even though I prefer Japanese VA, I do understand that dubbing should be attempted on titles that have potential mass appeal, such as Xenoblade or Pokemon for business (that is, $$$) reasons.
But--and this is a big 'but'--NOA needs to draw a distinction between these titles and more niche ones such as Fatal Frame, Conception, or arguably the upcoming SMTxFE where fans of the series tend to prefer the original VA. Misreading this delays releases, increases costs, or even precludes/ruins localization in the first place.
It's like NOA thinks a niche title won't do well, so they assign less resources to its localization, leading to bad English VA, the title bombing, and confirming NOA's flawed premises. That Taiko Drum Master game where they changed the songs to crappy American ones is a good example of what I'm trying to illustrate, although I think that was Namco/Sony who botched that one up.
Dude lossed his job over the podcast.
To all the people asking about NISA and ATLUS. How many copies does each store get? For the years I played both companies games stores I go to hardly get more then three (one being my preorder atleast). Both companies push preorders to avoid over stock and wasting money. On top of that ATLUS bumped the price of games to 50 bucks on the 3ds recently and always dropping the price for sales to get people to buy more. They don't print a lot of copies. Hell it was thought nintendo tried that with the laat fire emblem game we got in the west
Part of the problem is no major company wants to be the ones to have the court decide if 1000 year old half-naked lolis getting spanked is considered child porn.
So, if they can they censor the game, but sometimes the small fan base wants the game so they can spank 1000 yr old lolis.
Hence sometimes thats why a game is not brought over, not worth the negative publicity.
Do remember, Japan already considers video games as porn, which is why they get away with more than the we do. OTOH, because Americans consider video games as toys, some things are just never going to be allowed, and could even make a company blacklisted.
Also, some Voice Actress companies don't want their idol's image tarnished by having filthy gaijin hear her voice. (Which is more shameful than voicing a video game).
The best option IMHO would be is architect the next gen's game API so that people (fans) or companies can easily just put in a text file containing translations similar to how you can designate a text file for subtitles in dvd and blu ray.
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