Tokyo Game Show 2018 is being held at Makuhari Messe in Chiba prefecture from 20-23 September 2018. The Global Game Business Summit, which is held on the first day of the event each year, usually had western developers invited over to speak on the state of the gaming industry overseas, but this year, the speakers were Japanese developers whose games were overwhelmingly successful overseas.
The speakers were, in order of appearance, Monster Hunter: World producer Tsujimoto Ryouzou of Capcom, Nier: Automata producer Saitou Yousuke of Square Enix, and Nioh director Yasuda Fumihiko of Koei Tecmo Games.
Tsujimoto noted that Monster Hunter: World was planned from the beginning to be a title that would hold up on its own on the world stage, and that they worked on it with the idea that players all over the world have the same instinctive senses: While different countries may have different ways of conveying them, people all over still feel fear, or excitement, or catharsis the same way.
Looking back at previous overseas releases, Monster Hunter Portable 2nd G, released overseas as Monster Hunter: Freedom, had only 14% of its sales come from outside of Japan. It was simply the Japanese version localised without any other consideration given to overseas users, and the main issues that required resolving were ease of play, the need for a better tutorial, and the need for online multiplayer.
Resolving these issues resulted in Monster Hunter 4G (4 Ultimate), which had the highest sales for the series ever in the US and Europe, and was acclaimed by the media and players. Their plans for the next overseas release after this were to redefine the user needs for a worldwide market, to answer requests for a home console release, and AAA quality and volume, In particular, they thought that in order for a game to sell worldwide, making a AAA would be, despite being difficult, the quickest shortcut possible.
They ran into several obstacles in development. The first was with the sheer number of staff needed, and the ability to run a project with up to 200 members. They resolved this by for the first time adopting a system with two directors on a single project. They also further divided the development team into multiple units, with each unit delivering regular reports on what they were doing. As for the development environment, they decided that it would be more effective to use their own engine for the game, and so made customised the MT Framework engine for MH:W. Finally, there was the problem of the sheer cost of the project, which they deemed necessary in order to go up against Hollywood movies as competitors, and this required cooperation from the entire company: Cost-cutting measures were adopted, and in order to gain the understanding from the rest of the company, they made regular reports on progress.
In marketing the game, the developers agreed that “conveying” the game would be important, and so the development schedule was planned with consideration to the marketing schedule, so that they would be able to do things like release demos accordingly. They also considered the flow of information from a global point of view and so released new information at as many global events as possible, and also did their best to release playable demos and send development staff to these events. This has the two-fold effect of them being able to get direct feedback, and also them increasing their motivation by seeing the excitement of overseas users. They also further refined the game through three beta tests and a focus test for the west.
As a result, MH:W sold 10,000,000 copies worldwide, the greatest amount of sales ever for a title in the series, with sales outside of Japan accounting for an overwhelming 71%.
Nier: Automata – Global Game Business Summit Presentation (TGS2018)
Nioh – Global Game Business Summit Presentation (TGS2018)
Monster Hunter, Nier and Nioh: TGS 2018 Global Game Business Summit Panel Discussion (1/2)
Monster Hunter, Nier and Nioh: TGS 2018 Global Game Business Summit Panel Discussion (2/2)