Bandai Namco has announced they will be halting all their overseas development efforts because they failed completely.
Bandai Namco’s CEO states that their use of overseas developers was supposed to “appeal to Americans” but that “in the end it was all no good.”
The strategy they say they adopted was to have their Japanese head office analyse suggestions from their foreign developers, and then have the foreigners “do only the titles which should work [for Americans].”
Unfortunately, this only resulted in a variety of titles which crudely aped the most successful western blockbusters without any real success.
Namco seems finally to have realised this was a flawed strategy: “For a game to really sell, whether in Japan, America, or Europe, if the head office doesn’t think it’s fun it’s impossible.”
The astonishing revelation that games have to be fun to sell well has lead them to change strategy – “We’ll be stopping all overseas development. It’s mostly stopped already.”
Square Enix also reported similar failures – in their case the solution appears to have just been to buy a successful foreign studio outright.
The move of course should have no bearing on their decision (or more likely, non-decision) to localise certain titles developed in Japan for overseas markets.
Bandai Namco has announced a long term goal of having 50% of their sales in overseas markets, up from 23% at present; unfortunately, at present it seems Japanese and western gamers have very different tastes and can only be persuaded to buy the same games in a limited number of genres.
As Japanese developers have not generally been very successful at producing games solely for western audiences, Namco’s decision to focus solely on using domestic developers may prove rather problematic in light of this goal.