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 included 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 Capcom, and Nioh director Yasuda Fumihiko of Koei Tecmo Games.
The final speaker at the Global Game Business Summit was director of Nioh and producer of the currently-in-development Nioh 2, Yasuda Fumihiko. With two million copies sold worldwide and critical acclaim from the foreign media, Nioh was a huge hit, and Yasuda says that this was thanks to their demo strategy.
In most cases, Japanese game demos are portions of a complete game that are released right before the game comes out. While Nioh did do this as well, with its “final demo”, they also released an “alpha demo” ten months before, and a “beta demo” four months before the game went on sale. There were two reasons for these demos: One was to get player feedback to improve the game, and the other was to show players how they were being listened to, which they hoped would result in players being more supporting of the game. This endeavour ended up drawing attention from around the world as well, which had a large marketing effect. Furthermore, this worldwide attention also resulted in Sony Interactive Entertainment forming a partnership with them, which allowed them to conduct larger-scaled marketing campaigns.
Yasuda also thinks that the development of Nioh itself having a “story” contributed to its success. The game was first announced in 2005, and in the 12 years it spent in development it became an internet meme in Japan, being characterised as “Nioh-senpai” who “cannot graduate”, invoking the idea of a particularly dull school student who flunks all his grades and keeps having to repeat a year. Yasuda thinks that this underdog story of a game which had been thought of as a joke for a decade gaining overwhelmingly good reception worldwide even before its release helped to betray expectations in a good way. Additionally, the development team, Team Ninja, which had previously worked on acclaimed titles such as Ninja Gaiden, had been starting to fade into obscurity in recent years, and Nioh’s success was thus also treated as a comeback story for them around the world.
Monster Hunter: World – Global Game Business Summit Presentation (TGS2018)
Nier: Automata – 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)