Steam’s audience and Japanese operation has been discussed by Half-Minute Hero developer MarvelousAQL, stating that Valve needs to improve its language support before more Japanese studios publish on the service. There’s also Japan’s obsession with PC porno games to consider, obviously.
In an interview with Gamasutra, Marvelous AQL’s Esteban Salazar explained, “My personal opinion is that [Steam] is one of the ways that Japan can still compete, as far as putting their games in front of users, and not having to spend huge mega-budgets. It can help them compete with Western publishers.”
If that’s the case, then why don’t gamers see more Japan-centric games hitting the service? Salazar suggested, “There are a couple things that are barriers. One, [Japanese] developers are like, ‘PC? We don’t really know anything about that market if it’s not browser.”
“The second is the language barrier,” he added, “Steam doesn’t really have any support in Japanese. So you kind of need someone who’s bilingual to run things, and act as an intermediary.”
“That’s another thing I do. Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo have Japanese branches, and have plenty of Japanese speakers, and full Japanese support. But Steam really doesn’t. If you’re a smaller company, you might not even have someone who can speak English that well. So how are you going to contact Valve?”
All good points of course, but as Salazar explained, it’s a two-way problem with the PC culture of Japan raising further issues, “In fact the PC market is pretty neglected here. Which is a shame, because there is a big business opportunity for it. Some developers just don’t consider the market for PC at all here in Japan. They think that’s a tiny market for fans of porno games.”
Thanks again Gamasutra.