Publisher Ignition Entertainment, which has development studios in the US, UK and Japan, remains firmly committed to development and localisation of Japanese content despite a faltering market.
“There are very few independent guys in Japan that donâ€™t have a Western subsidiary, but those little guys need someone to help them,” business development director Shane Bettenhausen told Siliconera.
“Trust me, I was just in Japan two weeks ago and the little guys I was meeting with donâ€™t know how to succeed in the West and the Japanese market is shrinking.
“I think the future is to make games together for the global market. Thatâ€™s what I really want to do with Japan is actually from the ground up create a game with a Japanese developer that would work everywhere.”
The executive outlined his plans to continue supporting creative games, rather than treading a pure marketing line, like El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron, which he called “unique”.
“Iâ€™m proud to get to work on a game like that where the artistry came before the product. It wasnâ€™t born in a marketing meeting â€“ what are the notes that gamers are looking for? Does this have all of the things that you know Call of Duty has? This is a piece of art, really.
“More things like that, maybe not on the same scale as El Shaddai. … I think itâ€™s easier to get smaller games for handhelds or download that are a little more avant-garde out of Japan.
“My commitment to bringing cool Japanese games out is not going away and if anything I want to save the little guys in Japan. Thereâ€™s a real trend away from small development.”
Bettenhausen confirmed details of Ignition’s closures in Florida, reduction in the UK studio, and the maintenance of projects from both developers.
“Iâ€™ll admitâ€¦ when the US office, the office in Florida closed down, that studio as you talked about did close down. The UK development studio isnâ€™t actually gone, but it is smaller.
“Iâ€™d say [Reich and an unnamed Japanese title] arenâ€™t actually necessarily canceled, but the form they were taking previously isnâ€™t there anymore. They are going to be reworked. I canâ€™t really comment on those so much.
“Ignition, at the end of last year, there were decisions being made. … Their main office is now in Texas, Austin, where we merged with True Games which is our sister company that makes free to play and browser based games.”
On a positive closing note, Bettenhausen added that the company expects to have a strong E3 lineup, before hinting that the El Shaddai universe isn’t done yet.
“Clearly, the world is deep. I played through the whole game now and it left me with tons of questions. What happened a thousand years ago? What happens after this? What does this character do?
“I think those guys, when I was just there, are thinking what else can we do with this world? The characters have taken off in Japan. Itâ€™s a big meme. Everyone is into it. There are character goods coming out from Bandai. I really think El Shaddai has the potential in Japan to become a big franchise with lots of games.”
Ignition’s latest title is the action game El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron, which is expected to release on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in late April in Japan, and towards the end of the year everywhere else.