Once again, our great hero Bamboo has set about livechatting with the fans again. And once again our almost as great heroes Kouryuu, Shinikenshi, Agi, and of course Evospace came through on translation duties.
Bamboo started off the official stream by going over our upcoming titles:
DEARDROPS – Demo in Dec/Jan, goal is Feb release
Conquering the Queen – Release on 28 October
Harem Party – Planning to release in November
Harukoi Otome – Spring 2012?
Dengeki Stryker – A 2012 release. The translation is done, so we’ll be inserting the scripts soon.
ef ~The First Tale~ – Updates being added from Alpha. Beta test soon. Release date TBD.
The systems for our video and manga are already in place so it’s nearly ready, but the staff responsible for those are tied up with other projects as well. Device compatibility for video is also still being finalised. We’re trying to make sure they get matters taken care of so we can launch both lines before the year is over.
Upcoming releases and negotiations…
“Clochette has actually shown an interest in MangaGamer, so we’re currently in talks with them about their titles. We’re thinking maybe Kamikaze Explorer will be a good choice.”
“Friendly discussions” are still continuing with Age.
“Akabeisoft2 is… whether it’ll be with us or not, they are interested in the western market, so I think there’s a good chance there.”
Oretsuba negotiations continue, but “the bigger the title, the more complicated the web of rights holders gets, so we’re doing everything we can.”
No plans at the moment to bring over D2b vs Deardrops -Cross the Future-
“We have spoken with Visual Arts, but they are more interested in the Asian market at this time.”
TYPE-MOON? “I totally don’t know what TYPE-MOON thinks about the western market – I’d like to find that out for myself. It’s not like we aren’t able to reach them, but since their titles have become so vastly famous and the rights are held by multiple parties, it’s impossible to make a realistic offer atm. ”
Caramel Box? Cyc/Black Cyc? “Sorry, I haven’t spoken to them yet.”
Minatosoft? “Minatosoft is a difficult one. Why? Well, we could do it without the voices, but I can’t imagine a Minatosoft game without the voices.” (For those unfamiliar with Minatosoft’s games, this is because having a wide cast of AAA Voice Actors is where they pour a great deal of their budget into.)
Tarte? “Dealing with defunct companies is incredibly difficult. Even if everything’s done in-house, there can be multiple groups providing funding.”
Groover (Green Green)? “No. I’m not the one who holds the rights. Personally I’d like to, but it’d be difficult.”
KeroQ? “I will talk to KeroQ’s president”
Atlier Kaguya? “Their games are good, aren’t they…”
Baldr series? “Action/gameplay games require lots of dev from the companies, so it’s hard to make the case without a HUGE demand for it.”
BL/Otome games? “No plans for the moment. While there are plenty of girls you guys know who’re excited about them, I don’t think there’s enough of them to make it work in a business sense…”
Go Go Nippon didn’t sell as well as Bamboo expected, but he expects the game to sell steadily over the long term. “After working in the western market for 3 years, I realized how difficult it is to sell visual novels overseas. It requires a lot of understanding from both sides: the Japanese companies and Western audiences, but since MangaGamer’s userbase and sales have been increasing, I believe we are doing the right things business-wise.”
Bamboo also confirmed that Koihime Musou’s sales have reached 1000, and Baseson are happy! They are still committed to adding voices when sales hit 2000.
However, he warned that “Naturally, it costs money to translate the games, but if you ask ‘Are we recouping that cost?’ ‘Not without difficulty.’ We do have about 8,000 members or so now, but naturally not every one of them is buying a game, so we’re thankful to our core users and we plan to continue working hard in the future.”
More games on hard copy? “We currently have a partnership with JList and are working with them to see more hard copies available in the future”
Getting a job in VN’s as a foreigner? “People who are interested in this industry from overseas have to come in as translation staff, I guess. We have a few staff abroad giving us a lot of support, but first and foremost the language barrier is huge… It’s not like translation is the only way to get into it, but it’s certainly the fastest and easiest.”
Not dodging a big one: “The Amaterasu incident. It is a difficult issue, and [what they did] isn’t going to bring good results. Think about how you would feel in [Age’s] shoes. Right when you’re thinking, ‘Maybe we should release abroad?’ your product gets translated and released without your permission. ‘What do they think they’re doing?!’ It doesn’t leave a very good impression. I understand how [the fans] feel, I really do. I’m trying to find a way to make things work better [for everyone involved]……… but it is difficult.”
Why aren’t VN’s in HD yet? “800×600 is easier to make but I am thinking of moving on to HD soon. OVERDRIVE will probably have our next title in HD.” At least in 720 – “1920×1080? Sorry. Impossible ATM.”
As far as linking Japan and the West? Bamboo pointed out that “I linked this on my twitter so if we are lucky, we might get staff members from other Japanese game company in this room.” (If anybody spotted a Japanese staffer on the lineup, let us know!)
Do you regret localizing any of the titles on MangaGamer? “NO! I don’t regret localizing any game. I believe all the titles we’ve put out as MangaGamer were essential in marketing the company.”
More IG titles? “Innocent Grey’s other titles depends on Kara no Shoujo’s sales. To be blunt, there aren’t that many Japanese companies that can withstand devoting resources to English Translations in rapid succesion. I imagine there will be a lot of other developers who look at [localizing] one title at a time.”
What about minori? “The likelihood [of more] is very high. But look at how long it’s taking them for one title *laughs*. So right now I can’t really say when it’ll happen.”
More companies? “The first reaction we almost always face going into talks is ‘Will it sell abroad?’ Then when we tell them they have fans abroad, their next question is ‘How are they buying our games?!’ and we’re troubled for an answer. After that it depends on the developer. Some are eager, some aren’t interested, it’s very diverse. The one thing I can say they all share is that if we convince them it can work as a business venture, then they’re all aboard for it. We’re currently working hard to try and make this work as a business, but once we can, I imagine they’ll all jump on board. Many of them are interested in America [and the English market], but since they’ve never been, they have little idea of what’s it like. So when we bring them out to conventions like AX, there’s a lot of ‘Wow, I see. So that’s how it is.’ The truth is, a lot of game makers who have come out with us have started saying ‘Let’s release an English version’ with us. There’s just a lot they don’t understand without seeing it for themselves.” Bamboo also confirmed that while con trips are becoming more standard, they’re still something that his colleagues from other companies get excited about. “Japanese events have become rather routine for many of them, but the culture and customs in American ones are different, so company reps go to see all sorts of new things.”
DLC add-ons for Go Go Nippon? “I would like to challenge myself making additions to Go Go Nippon. But of course, we at OVERDRIVE also have to concentrate on the Japanese market and our fans there, so we’ll have to balance our resources between the two.”
On an adult version of GGN: “*laughs* I’ll think about it.” Fans: “What about doujinshi?” – “You guys are the ones who are suppose to make those. There’s something wrong with developers making the doujinshi.” On adding voices – “We’re planning to look at adding voices after we’ve released a few other DLC upgrades. If we had added voices now, we couldn’t sell it at the price it’s at, and the Japanese market is facing difficulties too, so it’s not something we can do yet.”
Unfortunately, there are no plans for additional Dengeki Stryker material at this time, and your humble blogger’s evening was shattered as a result.
On the difference between Japanese and Western prices: “Different markets have different prices, so we take that into consideration. No matter what, companies would prefer a legitimate sale from a lower priced market to someone pirating a game.”
Why no Edelweiss or KiraKira for Android? “We simply haven’t done them yet.”
MangaGamer in 2012: “If the various things we’re working on right now comes to fruition, I’m sure everyone will be greatly pleased. We’re also in the middle of reworking several things to try and greatly improve our level of service.”
Humbling the adoring crowd, Bamboo reminded everyone that “I’m only a mere agent of MangaGamer. There are greater people behind me.”
Bamboo was asked how old he was when he played his first game. “…………20. …………I’m going to say 20 considering my position.”
BTW there are future MangaGamer titles that we haven’t annouced yet. Just saying.
Bamboo says that while he may be a well dressed rock star, he’s not very popular with Japanese girls.
Chances of selling CDs? “Yeah, importing them is expensive for you guys, isn’t it?” “It’s rare to see it done because of how expensive it is (though some d2b stuff has come out in the past). Also, you can’t sell CDs in the US without performing live.” Milktub performing abroad? “I wonder if AX or someone’ll invite us.” Unfortunately, milktub’s rights are held by the record label, so Bamboo and the band don’t have unilateral control over the material.
If you’re still reading, it’s worth noting that we’re having a Halloween sale at the end of the month. More details soon.
On the company and its future: “I believe MangaGamer hasn’t been fully recognized in the western market yet. We’ve only done about a third of the things we want to acheive as well. By the way, if we did 100% of what I’d like to achieve with MangaGamer, I’d be hauled in by the FBI for sure, so we’ll stop at 90%.”
Any chance of eroge-based anime from MG? “If there’s a demand for it.”
Fact: Sales drop off on titles after an initial rush, but they do continue selling, even after a year. Monthly sales fluctuate but are increasing on the whole.
Why did Bamboo look to the West? “I was interseted in the Western makret because I’d previously been to the US on personal and business trips, and saw eroge cosplayers one year at AX, spoke to them, and learned how much they liked eroge and also how hard they found it to get ahold of them. I also wanted to know how my games would be accepted and viewed in the west. As a creator, it feels good having your work seen by people in other countries. [What we’ve found is that] the eroge companies in Japan need to look directly at the Western market themselves before they’re truly interested. Even if I explain it to them, a lot of times they don’t understand until they actually see it.”
Chances of things like the Koihime fighting game? “Right now, we’re only able to translate Visual Novels, but maybe in the future if more companies join in. Our goal is to see people around the world enjoying Visual Novels.”
Other company presidents/creators joining Bamboo on livestreams? “That should be possible. But who do YOU want to see? Also, I’m used to doing these livestreams, but others might not be, so they might be a little stiff if they come on.”
Proving that class is inherent and reigns over all, when asked about loli and incest Bamboo confirmed that “We’re just not interested. Other developers can make that stuff. The concept at the center of OVERDRIVE’s games is ‘the character’s way of life’ and depicting that, so those things just aren’t relevant.”
On convincing Eroge companies who weren’t interested in the Western audience at all: “Wasn’t minori like that? They were fighting with NNL, and then they became friends and teamed up with us. That was an incredibly rare case. I think that was grand of President Sakai. I don’t know what changed their mind, but it’s like they finally came to understand each other through their fighting.”
Bamboo’s thoughts on DRM? “It’s a pain in the ass, but we have to use it. Our games pop up on torrents the day they’re released in Japan, and tons of people download them. Unless that vicious cycle can be broken, the issue of DRM is here to stay forever.” Is DRM helping at all? “We can’t completely stop people from cracking our games, but I do believe it helps slow the uploads down.”
Go Go America for people in Japan? “NO! We’re not Americans, so we don’t know enough about the culture.” One Translator: “What if Kouryuu wrote it?” Bamboo: “That could work. We’d have to do a scene about what to do in a hold-up – something like getting robbed when you’re walking around Little Tokyo/Downtown LA. My brother’s had to deal with that twice.”
Bamboo also admitted that he lived in Seattle a while ago. “Seattle is nice; it’s my favorite city in the US – I used to go to Uwajimaya. 20 years ago, it was the only Asian grocery in the city. I also went to Canada during summer camp.”
On deciding who to license content from? “We always look for eroge with all-ages manga or anime available in English. We’re basically screaming ‘Give us the license!’ Advertising our games to the west is pretty difficult. There the internet is all we have to reach people with, since it’s not like there are magazines [covering them].”
Talking about the economy’s impact on business: “We’re really sweating it! The high yen is making things really bad! It’s really tough! Somebody do something about the US’s economy! If this high-yen keeps up, it’ll be hard to keep doing business! I never once in my life imagined I’d see my business getting this influenced by high-yen [exchange rates]. Japan’s doing rough too, but you guys in America need to do something or we’re in trouble.” But what about in Japan? “We’re doing our best.We’re all tightrope dancers walking a thin line.”
What’s Bamboo playing these days? “To Heart 2 (the new all-ages PS3 rerelease) and Fallout PS3.”
As things began winding down, Bamboo apologized for the time between recent livechats, stating that he’d hope to be back next month with a guest (we’re hoping that Mori, his secretary, also makes a return appearance.)
Steam? “It’d be awesome to have something like that. Maybe in the future we could set up that kind of system.”
“Right now, the companies licensing games to us are gambling on being able to reach people in the West. Everyone releasing games with us now is doing so with a frontier spirit. The bigger a title is, the more we have to look at how you all are responding to them.” With number of voices being one of the biggest factors. “A real problem we face is that many of the titles we’ve released haven’t recouped their costs. So we’re trying to work towards achieving that balance. To give an example of how it is for us, say there’s this famous hamburger in Texas, but there are only a handful of people in the rest of the world who know about and come to eat it. We’re doing everything we can to sell those hamburgers in more places.”
Question from Bamboo: “Do you masterbate to eroge? Are you jacking off to it? No, seriously, it’s an important question. We want to know if you’re actually using them. Is there more demand for story-based games or nukige?” (Tweet your answers to @bamboo_milktub or @mangagamer, or post them on our forums.)
And, following a quick joke, our humble president once again brought procedings to an end.