DT: Xseed has been one of the more adventurous Wii publishers in the United States, pushing games like Fragile Dreams, Sky Crawlers, and others that didn’t enjoy big Internet followings like The Last Story. Why has Xseed stuck by the platform?
KB: We have to be platform neutral and willing to publish the best games available to us, no matter what the platform. With that said, we’re especially proud of the titles we’ve published on Wii since so many of them are category leaders or significant in some way—Victorious Boxers: Revolution was the first boxing-dedicated game, Sky Crawlers was the best flight sim, Fishing Resort was the best fishing game, Little King’s Story was arguably the best strategy game (or whatever hybrid genre it would classify as), Rune Factory: Frontier was one of the top ten most played games on the system for a very long time. Ju-on: The Grudge was… well, let’s not talk about that one.
DT: Why are publishers so reticent to continue publishing on platforms like PSP and Wii so quickly when those machines have huge, established audiences? What makes a platform “dead” in your eyes?
KB: It’s a combination of retailers not wanting to stock software for older platforms as they reallocate what precious little shelf space they have to software for new hardware, lower anticipated sales volume and lower sales price for each unit sold. All the excitement, and higher price points and profit margins, are with the new hardware so focus shifts quickly for both retailers and publishers. A platform isn’t truly dead until all new software ceases to release on it, which in this day of digital distribution could take a very long time.
DT: Why do you think The Last Story for Nintendo Wii was so successful for Xseed? Do you think Pandora’s Tower will match its sales?
KB: I think it was successful mainly because it was a fantastic game with a great pedigree of [Final Fantasy creator Hironobu] Sakaguchi-san and Nintendo behind the development. Informed gamers had been tracking it since its first public appearance in Japan and knew that this was a gem to add to their gaming collection. We do not expect Pandora’s Tower to match its sales as we will be even farther along the Wii’s lifecycle by the time it releases, but we do still expect a strong showing thanks to the great support from the fanbase for these JRPGs on Wii.
DT: Are there are any other Wii games that Xseed is considering publishing before leaving the system behind? Please say Captain Rainbow.
KB: I think I’ve said this before in a previous interview, but I really mean it this time when I say that I think this will be the last Wii title we publish. Of course things could change if a great Wii title were to fall upon our lap or digital distribution for that platform took off, but as of right now Pandora’s Tower will probably be our final Wii title.
DT: So… how about a localized Retro Game Challenge 2 on eShop? Please? PLEASE?!
KB: I think you’re asking the wrong people. We loved the original game so much that we really went way above our comfort zone on the investment it took to bring the game over here. It was an incredibly expensive project due to multiple IP owners and the extensive localization programming necessary as it was never intended to be sold outside of Japan. Our love for the game blinded our business reasoning as it was about three times as expensive to license as a typical DS game at the time, and it came back to bite us in the end when sales didn’t live up to our expectations. Even if the IP holder was open to us licensing the sequel, we can’t go into a project knowing that we’re going to lose money, no matter how much the gamer inside us wants to.