Sohei Niikawa Interview @ NIS America Reunion Press Event 2013
We recently had a chance to attend NIS America's 2013 Reunion Press Event in San Francisco and had a chance to interview NIS America President Sohei Niikawa to ask him a few questions about Sony's PlayStation 4 announcement and the future of the Disgaea series.
T-ONO: What did you think of Sony's recent PlayStation 4 announcement?
Niikawa: Personally, I feel that the PlayStation 3 is still a pretty cool system, so why fix what isn't broken? However, this is just my personal opinion. It feels as though we've finally reached the point where people can enjoy all types of games on the PlayStation 3, so it feels like the announcement of the PlayStation 4 is a bit premature.
T-ONO: Are there any plans to implement cross-play features between console titles on the PlayStation 3/4 and portable versions on the PlayStation Vita?
Niikawa: When the PlayStation Vita was first announced, Sony revealed that it would have cross-play features with PS3. At that time we thought that we might want to look at it and what we wanted to do, but unfortunately we have not had a chance to do anything with that up until now. However, going forward, given that the PlayStation 4 and the PlayStation Vita have such a close relationship, it is something we would like to do.
For example, with a time intensive game such as Disgaea, we would like to make it so that a player at home can play on their consoles, and if the player needs to go on the train or go out of the house, they can pop it into their PlayStation Vita and continue from where they left off.
T-ONO: When the gameplay footage for Disgaea D2: a Brighter Darkness was released, it appeared more streamlined than previous entries in the series. Are there any plans to implement more streamlined features into future installments?
Niikawa: No, not at all. The reason being that [Disgaea D2: a Brighter Darkness] is at heart a sequel to Disgaea 1, and it was made specifically to be that. It was made as a gift to the fans of Disgaea 1 who maybe have played that one, but perhaps not the other ones. In terms of the main numbered series, we are going to add more, we are going add bigger and we are going to make it larger. The series is going to get larger and crazier than you have ever seen before.
This Dimension series, as I am calling it, is made for those fans who maybe don't have the time anymore to put a billion hours into games, so it is a little more story and character focused. I would like to take things in a parallel, but equally important direction as we have with the main series.
T-ONO: For Disgaea's 10th anniversary, how come NIS decided to create a sequel to an older game rather than an entirely new entry into the series?
Niikawa: Well truthfully, we never thought the series would last ten years. So when we were sitting in the office thinking about what is that makes the series special, or what is it that caused it to last this long, the answer is the fans. So at the 10th year anniversary we asked ourselves what we could do to make the fans happy, and the answer to that question was to use the characters from the first game that everyone knows and loves. We wanted to make a direct sequel to that.
T-ONO: Speaking of the fans, is there a difference between marketing games to the American, European and Japanese consumer, and what would that difference be?
Niikawa: Actually in terms of marketing, it comes down what it is and what we make. We specialize in games and anime, and what we've noticed is that when it comes to games or anime, or anything of that sort, the hardcore fans of this media are hardcore fans. It doesn't matter whether they're Japanese, from the United States, or if they're from Europe. We found that they are all the same worldwide.
T-ONO: With these upcoming games that are going to be released, how big is the time difference between a release here to a release in Europe?
Niikawa: Nowadays when we develop games, specifically those we're planning to release abroad in the foreign markets, we try to get them out as quickly as possible. Since the video game market in Japan has fallen while the foreign market has risen, we need to try and release the games we think are really going to do well in foreign territories as quickly as possible.
T-ONO: In a related question, do you think there is ever going to be a market for Visual Novel type games in the west?
Niikawa: Actually that market for that kind of game in Japan is kind of severe as well, so there are two ways that games like that can sell. One is that they are very famous titles with very big names, and the other is if they are adult titles.
However in regards to that market, we still think that is very important and as a company we still make and will continue to make visual novels. That said for the foreign market, in terms of localizing a title like that, there is a ton of text and looking at the costs to rewards, it currently doesn't add up. So maybe for the time being it's going to be something difficult to do.
That said, we still want to take these good stories to a foreign audience, so we're constantly thinking, "what is the best way to do that?" And that would be to turn them into some kind of movie or an anime series, and in terms of that the translation amount is a lot smaller. So that is something we can think about; something that we want to do in the future.
Interview conducted by Jason Young and JM Alcala. Transcribed by Stanley Fung.