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Namco: Quality Of Foreign Studio Titles Was "Lacking"

They may not be the last Japanese publisher to return their focus to the mother land.

After dabbling in foreign studios for the development of projects designed to appeal to Western audiences, Namco Bandai has announced they will shift development of new games back to Japan. They had taken on outside teams like Ninja Theory to handle the creation of more "Western-oriented" titles; Enslaved: Odyssey to the West was the most recent effort. But despite favorable reviews, it only sold 335,000 copies worldwide, well below what Namco had anticipated. Said publisher president Shukuo Ishikawa:

"We found the quality and development speed of titles made for us by the overseas studios to be lacking. Foreign studios can still propose and develop games, but our Japanese staff will control the process more closely."

It's not that Namco doesn't wish to appeal to the Western gaming crowd; it's just that they'll take a more hands-on approach in doing it...although that may not be the best option, either. There wasn't anything wrong with Enslaved, and it would've caught the eye of many a Western gamer if there had been at least a whisper of advertising out there. In our estimation, this doesn't sound like a Ninja Theory/foreign studio problem; it sounds like a Namco problem.

And yeah, where's our Tales of Vesperia? That won't ever happen, will it? Not "Western" enough, huh?

Tags: namco, namco bandai, enslaved, games industry

12/15/2010 10:48:24 AM Ben Dutka

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Comments (53 posts)

Temjin001
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 @ 11:01:34 AM
Reply

They should've taken notice of Capcom. They've been there, done that and resolved with the same conclusion.

And personally, I'd still rather have the japanese team handle DMC.

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Snorge
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 @ 11:16:05 AM

I would rather keep the japanese team doing DMC as well...nothing wrong with Ninja Theory (I love Heavenly sword) but come on, please dont let huge sales of COD deter you from your mission *Im looking at all the japanese dev who want to "westernize" their games*

One of my fav teams is Kojima Productions....and I would rather eat a pair of Oprah's first day of period panties with diarrhea before I play a game by Hideo himself that has been westernized!

:End Rant:

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Shams
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 @ 11:35:08 AM

It's lunch time, and I just lost my appetite...for like the rest of the day...and the week. Thanks.

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Highlander
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 @ 11:40:08 AM

@Snorge,

Dude, that's pretty much ended my desire to read any more of your comments. Good God! What a disgusting image/concept. I need to find some thing to cleanse my mind.

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JDC80
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 @ 4:46:39 PM

I have a hard time believing Capcom would have change D.M.C this much if the series had remained a Playstation exclusive.

As for Ninja Theory "Heavenly Sword" is a three year old game and PS3 owners still talk about it like it came out last year that alone should tell them something.

I don't get why game companies try to appeal to a gaming community that really like a certain type of game(shooters) and it doesn't matter how hard they try to design those games around those preferences a chuck of those people are still not going to buy those games?

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Highlander
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 @ 11:05:01 AM
Reply

Namco is reported to have confirmed that they will *NOT* localize any tales games for the West. The story I read basically was full of mealy mouthed words about costs. But when you stack 250,000-300,000 sales at $60 a pop, that's $15-18 million in game sales and $5-6 million in profit that they are refusing with each tales game they do not localize. even it it cost $1 million a game to localize, that's still a nice profit margin since the game is already developed. Apparently, they won't even agree a deal with the likes of NIS or Atlus to do the localization and publish in the west, despite that being a zero cost revenue stream for Namco. When it comes to JRPGs from Namco, Namco appear to be telling western JRPG fans "tough sh*t".

Last edited by Highlander on 12/15/2010 11:05:35 AM

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Orvisman
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 @ 11:24:26 AM

I guess the Wii and 360 Tales games really sold like crap in the U.S. on those consoles.

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Highlander
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 @ 11:38:14 AM

Apparently. I suspect that the 360 numbers were very poor and Namco got scared. Not sure about the Wii's numbers. perhaps Namco believes that the western JRPG market is equally distributed between Wii, 360 and PS3? I don't think it is, I think that it's pretty clear that the majority of JRPG fans still bought into Sony this generation, but Namco apparently doesn't feel like finding out.

I can't help but feel let down and angered by them. They localized Tales of Vesparia already, even if they had to add some additional voice work for the extended PS3 version, it's still a low cost localization. Then they could truly measure the western JRPG market on the SP3, instead of guessing. Namco was once a shining star when it came to publishing JRPGs in the west, the PS2 had some fantastic games from them. This time round, Namco might as well have not been in the market at all.

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Lawless SXE
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 @ 12:40:15 PM

Word is that they're working on a new, PS3 exclusive, Tales of game, so perhaps they will localise it. They did it for Vesperia, which was 360 exclusive, so perhaps they will test the waters on the other side of the console. Surely Demon's Souls sold well enough in the European regions for them to take the risk.
Peace.

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Highlander
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 @ 12:50:34 PM

Personally, if I were Sony, at this point I'd pay them to localize the damned games, If Sony takes $5 per copy sold and spends $500,000 getting Namco to localize, Sony still makes money on the deal.

All the reports I have found on Tales Of Xillia suggest that although an exclusive to the Ps3, it will not be localized. No "Tales" games will be. :(

Last edited by Highlander on 12/15/2010 12:55:37 PM

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shadowscorpio
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 @ 12:54:41 PM

Its just so fascinating to me how they cater to a console that mainlly supports a gaming demographic that is mainly into shooters and another console that is mainly catering to family orientation time/casual type gamers but when it comes to the ACTUALLY console that will greatly support their Japanese Role Playing Games, they look the other way.

When they release Tales of Vesperia on 360, the Ps3 was still priced at 600 bucks and more xbots were looking for anything Halo or COD. Do you really mean to tell me that Namco Bandai is going to base the decision to 'not' localize because of this?!?

It was bad timing on their part (with the help of MS). The situation is a world of difference now. Namco! There is one console in North America that you have yet to test with your JRPG's. Its called the PS3!

-end rant-

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pillz81
Saturday, December 18, 2010 @ 11:32:44 AM

Amen.

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bigrailer19
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 @ 11:13:26 AM
Reply

Well it doesnt sound like a namco problem to me at all. They tried something new and it didnt work for them. They were quoted saying "the quality and the speed were lacking". Obviously they didnt get qhat they wanted out of the developer.

Listeb we all know ninja theory can make a good game. But their approach lately to the development process as a whole is well different, or unexpected. I wont say its wrong cus all deelopers are different. But its obvious they have a different approach today than they did when creating heavenly sword. I think namco may have been wanting that developer, when what they got was the new and well maybe unimproved ninja theory. Why else would namco reach out to them? I mean they can make good games and they are talented.

In regards to enslaved. Its a sad day for ninja theory and it should be a lesson developers around look at. Just because its multi plat doesnt mean its going to appeal to more people. And its also a lesson that games tend to take a hit as a whole when developing for multiple consoles. I mean heavenly sword came out round 3 years ago and it looks and plays like a better game. Greed got to them, but i commend them as a developer for trying to reach a higher sellibg point. But again its a lesson to be learned from, dont always take the easy way out. I think unless they release a heavenly sword 2 exclusie to the PS3, its going to be a tough road for them in the near future.

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maxpontiac
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 @ 11:43:00 AM

Indeed bigrailer.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 @ 12:00:01 PM

It's not going to appeal to more people because it's multiplatform; it'll appeal to more people because it's not distinctly Japanese/anime-ish in style. That's what Namco wanted to avoid by letting Ninja Theory handle it.

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Highlander
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 @ 12:08:11 PM

Except that appealing to the audience that likes anime/japanese aesthetic is appealing to a market that is far more acquisitive and therefore likely to generate decent, steady sales.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 @ 12:13:33 PM

True, but that doesn't really resonate in North America, and I think Namco DID look at the fact that Heavenly Sword did exceedingly well in this country (and Europe). And you can notice the similarity in terms of artistic direction.

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bigrailer19
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 @ 12:18:17 PM

Well yes Ben thats correct. I agree that namco wanted a more westernized game. My multi platform comment was in regards to ninja theory, and with no doubt a large part of the decision to make it multi plat was on the behalf of namco.

My whole point was obviously namco didnt get what they wanted out of ninja theory. Ninja theorys efforts failed, to achieve what namco wanted, and its obvious thibgs didnt work out from the comment that you quoted from. But thats life an its business.

My point of view though on ninja theorys behalf is yes they are good developers. But thay seem to have a mind set that they will only generate revenue by going multiplat when obviously their assumptions failed themselves in ragards to enslaved vs heavenly sword not only a developmental process but in sales as well. Enslave as good as it may be, is not what heavenly sword is. And it didnt accomplish what ninja theory thought it would by bwong multiplat in fact it did far less thab what their exclusive title did!

Edit: sorry bout spelling i cant type on the iphone at all. Really appologize.



Last edited by bigrailer19 on 12/15/2010 12:20:11 PM

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Highlander
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 @ 12:53:33 PM

I guess where I am coming from Ben is that there is an audience that will buy between 150,000 and 200,000 copies of a thoroughly anime/Japanese style game/product. Compared to the rest of the gaming market, that's small, but still profitable. If you supply products to that market it will grow, and you gain customer loyalty for supporting a niche market. Since they are already making the games and companies exist to localize games for such markets. I can't understand why Namco is not serving that market ins some fashion.

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shadowscorpio
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 @ 1:06:27 PM

I have to agree Highlander. In fact other forms of business undersstand that there is an importance in supporting a niche market. Mass marketing isn't always the wise choice nor is it always profitable for a business. If it were then every single business would do it.

They are business that have found it to be the smart move to cater to a niche crowd because a lot of other business go right over them with there un-consentrated mass marketing strategies. This leaves an open market segment to satisfy. This is a route that I think NB would do very well in here in the US (and Europe). Sadly, it seems that most of the 3rd party devs are being incredibly destracted by the fact that there is a game developer that managed to aquire mass millions in video games sales and that they just simply have to mimick this.

You can be 'profitable' catering to a niche crowd. You just have to do it first.

Last edited by shadowscorpio on 12/15/2010 1:08:08 PM

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Temjin001
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 @ 4:51:10 PM

Something I wanted to add. Heavenly Sword obviously went way over budget, because despite it's decent looking sales it still missed sales targets. Doing a good HS sequel would probably be more expensive and I'm sure SOny doesn't want to risk it. Expensive games NEED to be big sellers in this market. Look at the number of goty contenders landing in 2011. So many of them are critically acclaimed with many carrying goty awards beneath them. If you want to compete against that crowd at that level of budget you'd better bring something to the table that you know people will want or risk suffering loss.

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Scarecrow
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 @ 11:13:36 AM
Reply

YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEES!

OMFG this made my day

Still though Namco's no better. They still think we want "Western games."

That policy alone is biting them on the ass, hard!

Last edited by Scarecrow on 12/15/2010 11:15:45 AM

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Vivi_Gamer
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 @ 11:14:55 AM
Reply

I personally thought Enslaved was great, better than anything else Namco have released this Gen. Yes including Tekken 6, due to how silly the series has become.

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big6
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 @ 12:08:39 PM

Yes, I bought it now, too.
It's not opened yet, cuz I'm still trying to finish AC:Brotherhood. I plan to finish Vanquish and Enslaved over the holidays!

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shadowscorpio
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 @ 1:10:14 PM

wasn't to impressed by the demo. The mechanics of battle were kinda cool tho.

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MadPowerBomber
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 @ 2:31:51 PM

Tekken has always been silly.

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Vivi_Gamer
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 @ 2:58:18 PM

I beg to differ, Tekken 1-3 they were all pretty well gorunded, then in T4 was just lame and Then T5 you got Jinpachi a monster that fires lazerbeams out of his stomach and a Blade rip off who can vanish from plain sight and instantly hit you.

But T6 takes the cake:

A robotic girl that can take off her head and use it as a bomb, form chainsaws for arms, eject jetpacks from her back, it goes on...

An obsurely obese man how has the agility of panther.

A mythical 20ft dragon.... that can form spikes from the ground.

And another Robot also aroudn 20ft tall which can fire missiles, lasers and all cut the floor as a trap for you.

I liked some of the tame fantasy elements like the Devil Gene or even the slight gimmicks like have Kuma and Roger the boxing kangaroo, buts just gotten so absurd now its over overthrowing what was a respectable game series.

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MadPowerBomber
Thursday, December 16, 2010 @ 6:44:08 AM

So the extreme silliness of the early Tekken games are okay (which included firing lasers from the eyes, martial arts trained animals, giant robots, doctors that can't stand, cameo's from manga based dinosaurs, animated fight dummies, and the like) are all okay, but bigger bosses, anime-inspired robots, traditional fighting game ninja, and all that is absolute nonsense that completely tarnishes the entire series and makes it unrespectable?

Next thing you'll tell me is that Otakon's constant chatter about swapping discs, love on the battle field, blu-ray technology as well as the Colonel's direction of putting the "action button" to climb ladders and such makes Metal Gear Solid a completely ludicrous game not worth anyone's time.

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Tim Speed24
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 @ 11:17:47 AM
Reply

I tend to agree with the "Quality" lacking statement. Two reasons I didn't buy Enslaved:

1) Main character name "Monkey" was not appealing.

2) Visuals looked sub-par compared to other titles that came out around the same time as Enslaved.

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Lawless SXE
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 @ 12:44:28 PM

Sorry, but the visuals of Enslaved are absolutely beautiful. They are easily above anything else made with the Unreal Engine 3, that I've seen, and beyond most other multiplatform games too. The screen tearing on the other hand...
Peace.

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GuyverLT
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 @ 2:40:20 PM

I agree that Enslaved is beautiful game but to say that:

They are easily above anything else made with the Unreal Engine 3.

Well that's stretching it a bit cause Batman Arkham Asylum uses unreal 3 and the graphics beat Enslaved out of the water. From what I've seen so far from the screen shots of the new Batman which also uses unreal 3 and it looks even better than the 1st.

Last edited by GuyverLT on 12/15/2010 2:41:25 PM

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Temjin001
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 @ 4:41:05 PM

Enslaved was lacking in quality. That's basically why the game scored lower than it should have. Ninja Theory let some technical problems ship with the game before it was polished up to a level that most high caliber games hold themselves too. I also think the compliments to the graphics can be directed towards the art design and not so much the technology. There's plenty of stuff about Enslaved that doesn't hold a candle to Uncharted 2. Hopefully, none of these technical problems make there way into DMC where a very hardcore audience will be sure to beat them down if they miss-step. The fact that they're going with UE3(has anyone even seen a 60fps UE3 game?) for DMC does not instill much confidence.

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Lawless SXE
Thursday, December 16, 2010 @ 1:04:59 AM

Perhaps then, it is the art style that lends Enslaved its magnificence in my eyes. The character models of Batman seemed distorted, and a lot of the architecture was bland. Combine this with the dark colour scheme of the game, and I came away extremely unimpressed.

Compared to this, Enslaved was bright and colourful; the character models frankly brilliant; the buildings diverse, and the ruined architecture very appealing. Perhaps it was only the brightness that made it seem better, but it was a wonderful change. This is, of course, entirely my own perspective, so perhaps we should agree to disagree.
Peace.

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maxpontiac
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 @ 11:41:20 AM
Reply

Note to Namco and Ninja Theory...

If you would have stayed true to the PS3, this wouldn't even be happening.

The grass isn't always (Xbox)greener on the other side of the fence!!

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A2K78
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 @ 12:28:31 PM
Reply

Why am I not suprised by this? Anyhow its a shame Capcom is somewhat still in denial about this, the same goes for SEGA and Konami.

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atomaweapon
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 @ 12:50:43 PM
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I just couldn't get into the main characters. Both were ugly versions of better designed charatcers and the Main characters name was "Monkey". That's why it turned me off.

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pillz81
Saturday, December 18, 2010 @ 11:47:40 AM

Well one thing to understand is, the name Monkey was a nod to the character named Monkey in the Chinese novel Journey to the West, which the story of Enslaved is based on. Even Monkey's hair, weapons and "tail".
That is something many people, in general, may not know.
Of course

Last edited by pillz81 on 12/18/2010 11:52:32 AM

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Lawless SXE
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 @ 12:51:32 PM
Reply

I guess Enslaved REALLY didn't sell anywhere close to expectations. A shame, I really liked it. Still, I suppose that this means we may end up with more core Japanese styled games, which isn't a bad thing. I don't understand the statement about quality. So many other publishers have come out and said that Western devs are far beyond what the Japanese can do, yet Namco are basically saying the exact opposite, it's a mite confusing. And the same goes for dev time. FFXIII, MGS: Rising, GT5, these games have all taken, or will have taken, a minimum of three years, which is on par with, or longer than the two-ish years it's taken ND to push out Uncharted, Visceral to get Dead Space 2, or Bioware to alternate between ME and DA. What a peculiar statement.
Peace.

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SayWord
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 @ 1:01:36 PM
Reply

They announced a new tales game exclusive to ps3 to come out in 2011. Shame it probably won't come to NA though:(

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kraygen
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 @ 1:17:14 PM
Reply

Wasn't really interested in enslaved, but namco bandai published Majin and the Forsaken kingdom and its one of my favorite games.

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Scarecrow
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 @ 3:53:10 PM

I really want to get that game.

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kraygen
Thursday, December 16, 2010 @ 1:30:35 AM

you really should, it's fun, plain and simple.

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BikerSaint
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 @ 2:27:00 PM
Reply

I think it's a shame Enslaved only sold less than a 1/2 mil.

I would like to see that game turn itself into another great franchise.

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GuyverLT
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 @ 2:43:51 PM

Yeah me too I liked Enslaved a lot, but this only makes you think with all the backlash the new DMC has been getting for the redesign of Dante. How will that sell when it gets here?

Last edited by GuyverLT on 12/15/2010 2:46:00 PM

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MadPowerBomber
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 @ 2:50:44 PM
Reply

I saw plenty of ads for Enslaved, in game mags and on game sites (and even two comic book sites, newsarama.com and comicbookresources.com). I don't watch TV so I can't speak on TV spots, but it was decently advertised from my POV.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 @ 3:10:58 PM

You saw them from the POV of a hardcore, avid gamer. All hardcore gamers were aware of Enslaved.

That's not necessarily who Nacmo wanted; they wanted to appeal to the wider, more casual Western audience with a simpler, more cinematic experience. ...and they didn't bother to tell that audience.

Ask anyone you know who doesn't really play games; only a bit of Call of Duty or Guitar Hero or the Wii here and there. 10 to 1 they've never heard of Enslaved.

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Highlander
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 @ 4:21:44 PM

Indeed Ben, that's not a bet I'll take, it's a sure thing.

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MadPowerBomber
Thursday, December 16, 2010 @ 7:32:29 AM

I'm keen to think that the 10 to 1 odds ratio is applicable with many, many games across the board with casual gamers including games that were a lot more successful than Enslaved was.

I'm talking games like Heavy Rain, inFamous, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, etc., etc. My friends wouldn't even know these games existed if it weren't for my constant rambling about them. Even the ones that get GameStop's rag in the mail. In fact, in my circle of friends and in my job, I'm the only one that knew about, bought, tried and played those three games. That's about a 1 in... 50 or so odds ratio.

This isn't scientifically proven research, but going from my own experiences, that is more than the case. None of my friends would know of almost 80% of the games I own if it weren't for me telling them, and even then, if it doesn't mirror their previous gaming experiences, offer anything remotely similar, or appeal to their personal sensibilities, they're not going to bite. Case in point, my best friend loves Call of Duty. Not first person shooters, just Call of Duty. So, I bought two copies of Killzone 2 on the day of release (one for me, one for her for her birthday), and she couldn't be bothered with it for the longest time because it wasn't Call of Duty. It didn't play like Call of Duty, so on and so forth.

Games like Call of Duty and Guitar Hero become brand names. Like Coke, or Pepsi. If you offer something like, ColaSoda to someone -- which is essentially the same thing as a Coke or a Pepsi -- to someone who only drinks Coke or Pepsi, chances are they're not going to go for it. Or even taste it.

That's the mindset of the casual gamer in my experience. It takes a lot of effort to get a casual gamer to try something new and different, and a lot of that effort is word of mouth, not advertising or marketing.

Same friend: I ranted and raved about the excellence of God of War to her from the release of the first game; through the release of the second game; up to about six months before the release of the third game. That's a lot of games and a lot of years between the beginning of my suggestive attack to her actually trying it (and eventually loving it). She listened a little easier with Uncharted 2, but not so much with Resident Evil 5 (and no, it had nothing to do with the supposed lack of quality of the game and everything to do with a lack of Call of Duty like control schematics; haha).

Casual gamers want Band-Aids, not adhesive bandages and anything that isn't a Call of Duty or a Guitar Hero and whathaveyou is, to them, just that: an adhesive bandage.

The problem with Enslaved is that its marketing campaign was horrible. I, as a hardcore gamer, couldn't be arsed with even looking into the game because A) the advertisments that I saw weren't that interest and B) they only brought one question to mind when I saw them: why am I being stared down by an angry luchadore? I still couldn't tell you what the game was about, and I have no interest in finding out and I buy A LOT of games. Some of which are done on a base-level, whimsical sense of curiosity (like Vanquish).

Basically... I think all this is a just a long-winded way of me saying, it doesn't matter who they marketed the game to 'cause the marketing of the game was done so horribly.

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Snaaaake
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 @ 6:21:04 PM
Reply

Meh, don't really care about Namco Bandai, pump out crap games and giving PS3 owners and JRPG fans the middle finger.

They're not getting my money.

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shadowscorpio
Thursday, December 16, 2010 @ 5:12:47 AM
Reply

Just to imform you all, Ar Tonelico 3 is still slated to be released here in the US and Europe. I don't know if Namco Bandai developed it but from what I know they are publishing it for NA's release.

It's the closest thing to a Tales game that the PS3 has recieved this gen so far. I say we make a statement with Ar tonelico 3 and hopefully NB takes notice...

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shadowscorpio
Thursday, December 16, 2010 @ 5:21:17 AM

I stand corrected. NIS is who is publishing it for NA.(No surprise there) Namco Bandai is actually a part of the production team while Gust is the actually developer. But Namco is publishing it for Japan's release.

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Highlander
Thursday, December 16, 2010 @ 11:38:57 AM

Indeed. JRPG fans need to throw their support behind NIS, Atlus, and Level 5. Hell, even XSeed does a decent job of serving the PSP players of JRPGs.

Which reminds me, anyone who likes a turn based JRPG and even halfway enjoys games with a synthesis system, you could try Atelier Rorona, it's pretty good fun. There are reviews here at PSX to read...

Regarding our 'friends' and Namco... I'd suggest sending Namco a message by boycotting their games, if it wasn't for the fact that they make no games I want right now anyway. In all seriousness though, letter/email/tweet/facebook campaigns are about all consumers can do, except vote with their wallet. If all else fails, perhaps the wallet is the last remaining option?

Last edited by Highlander on 12/16/2010 11:40:57 AM

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shadowscorpio
Thursday, December 16, 2010 @ 1:22:41 PM

Well I'm with you when you say they don't have any games here that I want right now. The Namco Bandai games that I 'actually' want it truly seems aren't getting localized. So boycott or not its the same difference. If they don't bring over their JRPG's I won't be buying their products here anyway, thus the jrpgs are what I want.

I wonder which one of Namco's franchises is the most popular? It couldn't possibly still be Tekken could it?

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Yeah; I just recently picked it up.
No, but I might get one soon...
No, and I don't ever want one.

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