Capcom VP Talks About "Westernization"

Capcom VP Talks About "Westernization"

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Capcom's Senior VP Christian Svensson explains the process behind "Westernizing" a game series.

Some Westernized Capcom games turn out great. The recently rebooted Devil May Cry was praised by critics for the developer's efforts to take the best elements from Western game design and use them to make a game that's a mash of two cultures. On the other hand, 2009's Bionic Commando tried to do the same thing but was released to mixed reviews and sold poorly. Capcom's Senior VP, Christian Svensson offers us a little insight into the Westernization of a Capcom game series.

"Both of those [Devil May Cry and Lost Planet 3], and some of the prior (like Bionic Commando) were driven by Inafune... now departed," Svensson told forum users when asked why particular game series were Westernized. "You'd have to ask him but as I recall, the logic was something along the lines of 'doing the same thing is going to get us the same results (if we're lucky). Let's try something from a different perspective.' In some cases, a Western one."

He went on to differentiate between games that are built from the ground up for Western audiences, and existing games that are simply localized for the west. "There are several franchises and series we don't try to change at all for Western audiences. Ace Attorney, Sengoku Basara, Monster Hunter all come to mind as examples." Svensson doesn't feel that an Eastern style game "caps" its sales potential in the US, and that it all varies widely from game to game.

Sengoku Basara is a prime example of a Japanese series that just seems doomed to failure in the US markets. Svensson says the original Sengoku Basara was renamed Devil Kings and had some of its more tedious history segments stripped out for it's US release in 2005. The game sold a meager 30,000 copies.

"Ok, that didn't work... so let's let a Japanese game be Japanese," Svennson said on the failure of Devil Kings, and when it came time to publish the PS3/Wii version of Sengoku Basara it kept its Japanese name and was pretty much unaltered. The result? "Media wasn't thrilled, preorders were weak, word of mouth was weak which in turn drives the forecasts and resultant marketing budgets and it sold about the same [as Devil Kings] at aggressive price points."

But it's not all doom and gloom, as Capcom does hit some home runs in regards to localization. The Ace Attorney series had pretty much all of the main character's names changed, but kept the majority of the other content intact. It went on to sell surprisingly well in the US, and prompted Capcom to localize the other games in the series.

Source: Capcom Forums

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Just going out a limb here: maybe the word of mouth for Sengoku's pre-orders and word of mouth was weak because it had already flopped as Devil Knights and your marketing budget didn't include emphasizing how different the games were? If a game is good for a reason in Japan, it's going to be good for the same reasons in America.

Capcom needs to stop thinking every game needs to be a 5million seller and that Westernization is the holy grail of game sales. If DMC:DMC taught them anything, critical darling that it is, it should be that slapping a coat "Gritty Westernization" on a series is not the way to approach it if you want more sales. Honestly, I think DMC combined the worst of western culture with DMC by bogging it down with the need to focus on sex and profanity which only appeals to children who still think saying "Fuck" makes them cool.

As far as Devil Kings, I got Devil Kings back in 2005, and I didn't get Devil Kings cause I wanted a 1v10000000 type of game. I got it cause I thought it was like DMC cause that was the image they put out there and they even have "From the creators of Resident Evil and Devil May Cry" on the back of the box. I kinda like that Dynasty Warriors style, but I was pissed off when I got it cause I felt mislead. I'm also sure that them stripping out the Japanese historical segments warded off the niche audience who actually wants to see that kind of stuff.

I think Team Ninja said it best when it comes to "Westernization" after NG3 was received so poorly, "It seems like we made a Japanese hamburger for the West," "We can be successful." He emphasizes in a later quote: "We're not going to offer burgers anymore, but we're going to offer you damn good sushi."

Niche Japanese titles like Sengoku Basara and such are not doomed to failure. I can easily rattle off 4 companies who make a living publishing niche titles. But, you have to market niche titles to the niche audience. I didn't even know there was a PS3 version of Sengoku Basara till yesterday when I saw this article elsewhere. Yes you want to expand your campaign out of the "usual" circles some to try and draw in some new interest, but first and foremost you should make sure the people who are interested in your kind of game at least know it exists.

You're not going to sell these kinds of games to the dude-bros Capcom. You're not going to match Call of Duty sales no matter how hard you try and turn Resident Evil in to it. Making Dante in to a British Punk slob 20 years after the British Punk scene stopped being socially relevant is not the way to update his image for the modern age and increase western sales. Do what you are good at, not what Epic, Santa Monica Studio, and Treyarch are good at.

Sylveria:
I think Team Ninja said it best when it comes to "Westernization" after NG3 was received so poorly, "It seems like we made a Japanese hamburger for the West," "We can be successful." He emphasizes in a later quote: "We're not going to offer burgers anymore, but we're going to offer you damn good sushi."

Keep in mind that after they were assigned to design a Metroid game, there has grown quite some hostility towards the Japanese aesthetic amongst Western gamers.

Rather than trying to focusing entirely on the Western gaming scene, maybe Capcom should direct their heads towards region that hasn't got as much exposure of the anime/manga aesthetic, like Latin America, Middle East and India (which btw, has a larger middle class population than entire USA).

This is a strange excuse. They spend too much on localizing games and then the sales "suffer" or appear very poor because it doesn't sell well enough. IF you make a game for a Japanese audience (which is very different from an American audience) the people here who want it don't want the game in full English with changed names and all the things that they feel people need in order to play a game. If a game is a Japanese title and I want to play it, I don't want half assed voice acting or the story changed to meet my "American" needs. I just want to play the game. Putting in English Subtitles is a lot easier than all the crap they do to localize a game. Hell, if they did that in the first place then you wouldn't need to worry about changing a damn thing. The main issue is they don't make a game thinking that audiences outside of Japan will want to play it. Welcome to the 21st century, where working in an international economy is getting easier by the day. Borders only exist on maps, as gamers we want to play good games no matter where they are from. And companies like Capcom fail to make a game that is viable from the ground up, then blame the consumer when all their extra needlessly spent money doesn't work out.

Wasn't Sengoku Basara the severely weak version of Dynasty Warriors?

theSteamSupported:

Sylveria:
I think Team Ninja said it best when it comes to "Westernization" after NG3 was received so poorly, "It seems like we made a Japanese hamburger for the West," "We can be successful." He emphasizes in a later quote: "We're not going to offer burgers anymore, but we're going to offer you damn good sushi."

Keep in mind that after they were assigned to design a Metroid game, there has grown quite some hostility towards the Japanese aesthetic amongst Western gamers.

Rather than trying to focusing entirely on the Western gaming scene, maybe Capcom should direct their heads towards region that hasn't got as much exposure of the anime/manga aesthetic, like Latin America, Middle East and India (which btw, has a larger middle class population than entire USA).

The issue with Metroid: Other M was the contrived and stupid story they put behind it. They turned Samus into a helpless little girl against an enemy she has fought and beaten many times, and they made her subservient to some character that was about as deep as a cardboard cutout. The game, story wise, was shit. They contrived a reason as to why she couldn't user her more powerful weapons from previous games rather than instituting your basic depowered scenario. Granted, the latter is just as contrived, but it wouldn't remove the explorations aspect of the game. In Metroid games, going about finding upgrades is the reason you are basically playing them, and they weaved a story of you vs some spice pirates to cover it. You literally didn't have those weapons when you started. In Other M, you had them and could have used them at any time, but you didn't because of some strange reasoning about following orders from some guy who was a thin, terrible character anyway. There was no hostility towards Japanese aesthetic because of Other M, there was hostility towards Ninja Theory for wasting an opportunity to make a great game in some gamers favorite long running game series. All that said, the game was still fun to play, but frustrating because I had to wait to hit a story point to use Super Missiles, which is dumb.

Christian, I'll give you one of the most pro-tips in the world. Hell I'll even give it to you for free, I won't take any credit and it can be all yours, want to know what it is? Megaman Legends 3, there. You can now start printing some money again and have people hate you less, and by you I mean Capcom in general. You're welcome.

DVS BSTrD:
If a game is good for a reason in Japan, it's going to be good for the same reasons in America.

This pretty much sums it up, you've got a few good IP's under your belt Capcom. You just need to realize what the hell you're doing with them, you're on the right path realizing that RE 6 was somewhat of a disaster, and that everyone hates your on disk DLC. But baby steps I guess, do too much at once and you'll be worse off than before probably.

But seriously Capcom, Megaman Legends 3, get your asses in gear

"let's let a Japanese game be Japanese,"

Holy shit, does someone get it? Could this same someone preach to Square and every other idiotic game maker who thinks they need to forget about being Japanese to make good games? Will said games makers listen?

"The recently rebooted Devil May Cry was praised by critics for the developer's efforts to take the best elements from Western game design and use them to make a game that's a mash of two cultures. "

Yeah, and it's apiece of shit. Critics who gushed like game salesmen to an audience who just plain saw the gushing for what it was, never mind the people who "loved it" just to troll those who didn't, not because it was a good game. Ninja Theory took a good franchise and applied bad writing, poor design, terrible art direction and popular political bullshit beliefs to it with the aim of purposefully alienating its fanbase. It's no surprise that this plan turned out a shit game.

Meanwhile you have all these purely Japanese games (Bayonetta 2, Xenoblade, Wonderful 100 or whatever the fuck it's called) being turned out for the Wii-U, people like me wonder what we'll ebay to afford a system that has these great games.

Steven Bogos:
But it's not all doom and gloom, as Capcom does hit some home runs in regards to localization. The Ace Attorney series had pretty much all of the main character's names changed, but kept the majority of the other content intact. It went on to sell surprisingly well in the US, and prompted Capcom to localize the other games in the series.

Bull. Fucking. Shit.

This asshat is lying through his teeth. Cause if he cared about AA, then AAI2 would be here. Also, we had to fight to get the 2nd and 3rd game. Yeah you care so much about this series.

Just admit it Capcom. Your target audience is the FGC nowadays. And with that whole Cross Assault incident people aren't gonna want to support those guys and Capcom's gonna go down with them.

Inafune's "we must go West!" ideology was nothing short of a toxic disaster. Hopefully some of the smarter people in CAPCOM decide to just drop the idea that they should ashamed of being Japanese.

I call this bullshit. Want to see the results of "westernization"? Check Resident Evil 6. That game tried so hard to please everyone (specially the "western shooters" audience), it lost all its identity and is one of the most poorly received numbered games in the franchise. Completely out of the expectations Capcom had based on sales forecast and money poured into its production.

You know, Capcom, there is a market for good games in America, even Japanese oriented ones; but you lack the confidence to trust the public or expect everything to be a multi-million dollars hit. Want an example? How about "Okami". Granted, its a proof of your lack of confidence, but the game is eminently Japanese (with deep folklore themes and references), and yet it sold 10 times more in America than in Japan. Asura's Wrath is another example of a game that attracted a lot more sales in the west than in Japan, even when it was not aimed to the idea of "western audiences".

If you build it, they will come...

I was kinda hoping he'd talk about Westernization in the same way one would talk about Smallpox or the Ebola virus or the Black Plague.

Baresark:
The issue with Metroid: Other M was the contrived and stupid story they put behind it. They turned Samus into a helpless little girl against an enemy she has fought and beaten many times, and they made her subservient to some character that was about as deep as a cardboard cutout. The game, story wise, was shit. They contrived a reason as to why she couldn't user her more powerful weapons from previous games rather than instituting your basic depowered scenario. Granted, the latter is just as contrived, but it wouldn't remove the explorations aspect of the game. In Metroid games, going about finding upgrades is the reason you are basically playing them, and they weaved a story of you vs some spice pirates to cover it. You literally didn't have those weapons when you started. In Other M, you had them and could have used them at any time, but you didn't because of some strange reasoning about following orders from some guy who was a thin, terrible character anyway. There was no hostility towards Japanese aesthetic because of Other M, there was hostility towards Ninja Theory for wasting an opportunity to make a great game in some gamers favorite long running game series. All that said, the game was still fun to play, but frustrating because I had to wait to hit a story point to use Super Missiles, which is dumb.

That's some good sushi right there, Team Ninja! Just as you promised.

Seriously though, I haven't actually played any of the Metroid game (though I'd really want to), so I don't really have a legit opinion about the game. But why is her gear reset after every single game? Why even bother with a canon? Can't they just do what the Legend of Zelda series does, and reboot the whole thing every new installment?

VoidWanderer:
Wasn't Sengoku Basara the severely weak version of Dynasty Warriors?

Depending on who you ask.

I thought it was the fun version of Dynasty Warriors, and really probably the most fun iteration of the Koei hack n slash type of game that anyone has made.

Westernization can be done well. Silent Hill 2 is an example of a game subtly influenced by western culture and media that sold well and was met with commercial success.

However that western influence clearly came more from an interest in western culture rather than an interest in making a lot of money off westerners. I guess that's where the difference lies.

DVS BSTrD:
Just going out a limb here: maybe the word of mouth for Sengoku's pre-orders and word of mouth was weak because it had already flopped as Devil Knights and your marketing budget didn't include emphasizing how different the games were? If a game is good for a reason in Japan, it's going to be good for the same reasons in America.

Or simply because they suck at marketing this sort of game? It seems like unless the game already has a huge fanbase (Devil May Cry), they don't put any effort into trying to market such games.

Capcom's Senior VP Christian Svensson explains the process behind "Westernizing" a game series.

Yes, please explain the process of dragging game through 56,000 miles of dog crap so you can try and spoon feed it to the lowest common denominator, because I am just dying to know if at any part you feel your souls die a little.

hermes200:
I call this bullshit. Want to see the results of "westernization"? Check Resident Evil 6. That game tried so hard to please everyone (specially the "western shooters" audience), it lost all its identity and is one of the most poorly received numbered games in the franchise. Completely out of the expectations Capcom had based on sales forecast and money poured into its production.

You know, Capcom, there is a market for good games in America, even Japanese oriented ones; but you lack the confidence to trust the public or expect everything to be a multi-million dollars hit. Want an example? How about "Okami". Granted, its a proof of your lack of confidence, but the game is eminently Japanese (with deep folklore themes and references), and yet it sold 10 times more in America than in Japan. Asura's Wrath is another example of a game that attracted a lot more sales in the west than in Japan, even when it was not aimed to the idea of "western audiences".

If you build it, they will come...

Truer words my friend, truer words... The saddest thing of all is everyone LOVED Capcom when they were just trying to be who they were, not who they think we want. They even acknowledge their franchises were at the highest point of their popularity when they were japanese made and uncaring of western influence. They are insecure to a fault.

Zachary Amaranth:

DVS BSTrD:
Just going out a limb here: maybe the word of mouth for Sengoku's pre-orders and word of mouth was weak because it had already flopped as Devil Knights and your marketing budget didn't include emphasizing how different the games were? If a game is good for a reason in Japan, it's going to be good for the same reasons in America.

Or simply because they suck at marketing this sort of game? It seems like unless the game already has a huge fanbase (Devil May Cry), they don't put any effort into trying to market such games.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Does making too much of your profits of the American Market bring shame upon their families?

theSteamSupported:

Baresark:
The issue with Metroid: Other M was the contrived and stupid story they put behind it. They turned Samus into a helpless little girl against an enemy she has fought and beaten many times, and they made her subservient to some character that was about as deep as a cardboard cutout. The game, story wise, was shit. They contrived a reason as to why she couldn't user her more powerful weapons from previous games rather than instituting your basic depowered scenario. Granted, the latter is just as contrived, but it wouldn't remove the explorations aspect of the game. In Metroid games, going about finding upgrades is the reason you are basically playing them, and they weaved a story of you vs some spice pirates to cover it. You literally didn't have those weapons when you started. In Other M, you had them and could have used them at any time, but you didn't because of some strange reasoning about following orders from some guy who was a thin, terrible character anyway. There was no hostility towards Japanese aesthetic because of Other M, there was hostility towards Ninja Theory for wasting an opportunity to make a great game in some gamers favorite long running game series. All that said, the game was still fun to play, but frustrating because I had to wait to hit a story point to use Super Missiles, which is dumb.

That's some good sushi right there, Team Ninja! Just as you promised.

Seriously though, I haven't actually played any of the Metroid game (though I'd really want to), so I don't really have a legit opinion about the game. But why is her gear reset after every single game? Why even bother with a canon? Can't they just do what the Legend of Zelda series does, and reboot the whole thing every new installment?

They could just reboot each time, but for whatever reason they have chosen to keep an at least semi persistent universe. The games weren't that far developed for a long time. The original one was on the NES, which mostly had no reasoning for doing the things they did. Their was some Gameboy titles which took place after that. Then there was Super Metroid on the SNES, which is the absolute best one. If I recall, she started with a near full powered suit in Super Metroid and it was damaged, along with her ship when the science station she had taken the Baby Metroid to exploded after an attack from Ridley. Then since the closest planet was covered in Chozo Ruins (the race of technologically godlike Aliens that raised Samus and built her suit). There she was able to power her suit back up. What was nice about that is it gave the overall feeling that you were exploring trying to find suit upgrades, and they were all over the place. Some you could get right at the beginning, some came only when certain events happened. While the ends is the same as with Other M, the feeling is way different. Also, they gave her a voice. She was just the silent toughest girl in the entire universe before Other M. In Other M, she became subservient to a commander and couldn't be happy without the approval of her all male military companions. It's just annoying because there version of giving Samus more "Character" was to make her a weak, subservient female who is afraid to insult people and afraid of enemies she has beaten before.

DVS BSTrD:

Zachary Amaranth:

DVS BSTrD:
Just going out a limb here: maybe the word of mouth for Sengoku's pre-orders and word of mouth was weak because it had already flopped as Devil Knights and your marketing budget didn't include emphasizing how different the games were? If a game is good for a reason in Japan, it's going to be good for the same reasons in America.

Or simply because they suck at marketing this sort of game? It seems like unless the game already has a huge fanbase (Devil May Cry), they don't put any effort into trying to market such games.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Does making too much of your profits of the American Market bring shame upon their families?

Yes, and seppeku is the only way to restore it.

There's nothing inherently wrong with aiming a game toward the west or incorporating western themes and ideas.. the problem is when you start infusing western themes and ideas in to pre-existing series that already had their own themes and ideas. Often, it ends up as a big mess and creates a product that won't appeal to the "western" gamer or the people who were more interested in the original concept.

What a twist! Seriously I love the build up all leading up towards a 'and then it flopped again'

RaikuFA:

Steven Bogos:
But it's not all doom and gloom, as Capcom does hit some home runs in regards to localization. The Ace Attorney series had pretty much all of the main character's names changed, but kept the majority of the other content intact. It went on to sell surprisingly well in the US, and prompted Capcom to localize the other games in the series.

Bull. Fucking. Shit.

This asshat is lying through his teeth. Cause if he cared about AA, then AAI2 would be here. Also, we had to fight to get the 2nd and 3rd game. Yeah you care so much about this series.

Just admit it Capcom. Your target audience is the FGC nowadays. And with that whole Cross Assault incident people aren't gonna want to support those guys and Capcom's gonna go down with them.

Indeed. They don't localize a lot of games from loved series like Ace Attorney or Monster Hunter, and when they do they come up with absurd sale expectations.

(f.E. http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/116429-Capcom-Thinks-It-can-Sell-10-Million-Copies-of-Dragons-Dogma or the trice lowered expectations for DmC http://www.ninjatheory.com/forums/showthread.php?4854-DmC-Devil-May-Cry-Forecast-Lowered-To-1-2-Million&s=d5d7998576f1196d9bae1240d2e4963b)

sethisjimmy:
Westernization can be done well. Silent Hill 2 is an example of a game subtly influenced by western culture and media that sold well and was met with commercial success.

However that western influence clearly came more from an interest in western culture rather than an interest in making a lot of money off westerners. I guess that's where the difference lies.

That's not really Westernization though; the team took influence from stuff like Twin Peaks and Jacob's Ladder, but that's just influence. Even Kurosawa was inspired by Western films, but he also Japanified it to give it a unique twist. What Inafune did was basically tell CAPCOM's teams to be ashamed of being Japanese and just blindly copy the West, not aware that Japan is actually better off just being itself and not trying to outWest the West

Capcom, you don't get to say anything until I have my hands on Investigations 2. You got that?

*deleted*

what there is no delete button here? got a problem with that eh?

Aiddon:

sethisjimmy:
Westernization can be done well. Silent Hill 2 is an example of a game subtly influenced by western culture and media that sold well and was met with commercial success.

However that western influence clearly came more from an interest in western culture rather than an interest in making a lot of money off westerners. I guess that's where the difference lies.

That's not really Westernization though; the team took influence from stuff like Twin Peaks and Jacob's Ladder, but that's just influence. Even Kurosawa was inspired by Western films, but he also Japanified it to give it a unique twist. What Inafune did was basically tell CAPCOM's teams to be ashamed of being Japanese and just blindly copy the West, not aware that Japan is actually better off just being itself and not trying to outWest the West

So, Inafune....The guy behind Dead Rising....said the Japanese should be ashamed of themselves and copy the west. /facepalm Real nice,Keiji.

 

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