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Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, brainchild of former Castlevania series producer Igarashi Kouji and spiritual successor to the “Metroidvania” style Castlevania games, the last of which was 2008’s Order of Ecclesia for the Nintendo DS, saw a roaring success in its 2015 Kickstarter campaign, raising over $5.5 million USD. Though the game was originally scheduled for a 2017 release, multiple factors resulted in the game being delayed for an additional two years, to a mostly-global release in June 2019.

This release however, did not include Japan.

Mere days before the game’s 18th June 2019 release, the Bloodstained Kickstarter page released an update from 505 games global brand manager Roberto Piraino saying that the game would be delayed for the country by “a few months”, with no concrete details on why this happened or how long the delay would be. The update outlined three ways that they would be addressing this issue

  • Giving out Steam keys to Japanese backers
  • Giving out digital keys to Japanese digital backers “as soon as ready” “before the public launch of the game”
  • Sending out physical game copies “as soon as they are ready”

The Steam key was the first indication that 505 Games was out of touch with the Japanese market: PC gaming is a minor niche in Japan, and many backers did not have computers that could run the game, or personal computers at all. Thus, despite the game’s Japanese roots, Japanese backers alone were left unable to play the game on release.

To make matters worse, North American retailers had broken the street date on the game’s release, and NA region copies had already been on sale in import and online stores around the country days before the release, priced at far less than most Japanese retail releases due to discrepancies in regional pricing. This meant that people who did not back the game could simply go to a store and buy it, while backers were left waiting.

Though the update did not give details on when exactly the game would be released, gaming website Automaton reported that the game was scheduled for an early September release.

In June, Japanese backers managed to confront Piraino, who goes by the name “Angel-Corvux” online, on Reddit.

Piraino stated in a post that:

  • Their top priority would be to get Japanese backers their copies
  • They would be speeding up the Japanese launch of the game
  • They would release information on additional efforts to apologise for the delay
  • They would investigate if they could do something additional to apologise for the delay

Far from speeding up the release, however, it was announced on July, that the game was delayed yet again, this time to 24th October.

As the 24th October release date approached, backers began to feel that something was wrong, as no shipping notifications had come. This culminated on the day of the release: Hours after the game had already started going on sale in all stores across Japan, backers received an e-mail saying that copies would be shipping “in the coming weeks”. For some reason the Xbox One, a console of which only 100,000 had been sold in Japan by the end of 2018, would be the first to get its copies, while the PS4, of which over 8 million have been sold in Japan, would be getting its copies last. The delay applied to digital copies as well.

The e-mail stated “if you don’t receive your package or a shipping confirmation right away there’s no cause for concern, it’s just the normal processing of the production queue”, empty words that offered no comfort or justification to backers who were again left betrayed, and ended saying that as an apology, all Japanese backers would receive an extra digital copy of the game for the same platform they backed, a completely pointless gesture for people who had backed the game for digital copies to begin with, and almost equally pointless for physical version backers, as the digital versions had also been delayed, meaning that this would not allow them to play the game any sooner.

As of the publication of this article (29th October 2019), the Japanese PS4 digital version has still not yet been released. Nothing related to this delay was posted on the Kickstarter page either.

In a July update on Kickstarter, 505 Games had offered Japanese backers a chance to get a North American digital console copy for the game, but only in exchange for backers giving up on what they had backed the game for to begin with, and offering no resolution to backers who wanted a physical version of the game.

If giving Japanese backers a North American digital console copy was an option at all, however, one can only wonder why they were not given out to all Japanese backers to begin with when the game was released in June, instead of giving out Steam codes which many Japanese backers could not use. This is even more egregious for Xbox One digital backers who were made to wait this long only to be given, in October, after the game was launched in Japan, a US digital code for the game. No reasoning for this has been offered by 505 Games, but one can assume that it is because the Japanese Xbox One digital release was cancelled.

Inquiries regarding the delays made by backers via e-mail, Kickstarter comments, the official forums, and the official Discord channel have unanimously gone unanswered, with the running of these forums and channel seemingly being left to fan volunteers.

In the case of the Discord channel, moderators (called “mini bosses”) have gone as far as to ban disenfranchised backers for daring to respond to their comments with emoji expressing discontent.

While the shipping of the game itself was ridden with problems, so was the shipping of other backer rewards. While Fangamer did manage to ship the items on time, the items were packed into boxes with no padding material at all, and the shipments being from America to Japan meant that many backers found items, mostly the slipcase, damaged.

Bloodstained’s letting down of backers did not end with just the delays and damaged items. An autograph session with Igarashi was held in Akihabara, Tokyo on 26th October 2019, and the 24th October e-mail announcing the delay for backers also included a line in Japanese only stating that cases and dummy jackets would separately be made available exclusively to backers for the autograph session.

The autograph session was announced the previous week to start at 3 PM, but only a day before the event, it was announced via Twitter, and not reflected on the numerous articles from sources such as Famitsu and 4gamer that had reported on the announcement, that participants would first have to line up to get a ticket at 1 PM: The autograph session at 3 PM would only be open to people with tickets.

Despite being told that they would be given separate treatment for the autograph session, backers without tickets were turned away. This author did hear about the tickets and managed to participate in the event without problem, but there were multiple instances of angry backers confronting the staff about there not being sufficient notice for the need for tickets. Some fans also pointed out how Igarashi’s autograph was a backer reward (for the $300 Kickstarter tier), and expressed displeasure at how non-backers would be getting the game autographed for free while many backers would not.

Though the autograph session was supposed to have Igarashi autograph fans’ game cases, many people, mostly backers and diehard fans, came empty-handed due to the game not having arrived yet and had him autograph the empty case. Igarashi personally apologised to each backer for the delay, saying that the game will definitely be delivered to them eventually.

This author spoke with another backer while waiting in line for the autograph session. The backer said that he has been a fan of Castlevania since the NES days, and especially of Igarashi since Symphony of the Night. His copy of the game had not yet arrived, and unlike the author and some other backers, his other rewards had not yet arrived either. He had backed the game twice, for the Xbox One and Nintendo Switch, but the staff did not have any Xbox One cases prepared for backers, and so he ended up having Igarashi autograph empty cases of the Switch and PS4 versions of the game. When asked about how he felt about the delays, he said that he was “very sad”.

Several other backers whose copies of the game had not yet arrived ended up asking Igarashi to autograph their copies of the Japanese version of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night instead.

Staff from Happinet, the Japanese distributor of the game, were also present at the autograph session. This author asked them and got confirmation that Happinet and Japan regional publisher Game Source Entertainment have nothing at all to do with backer reward fulfilment: They are only handling the physical retail releases in Japan, while shipping to backers is being handled by Fangamer. Game Source Entertainment reiterates this on Twitter, further adding that digital releases in Japan are being handled not by them, but by 505 Games.

In the end, 505 Games and brand manager Piraino’s statements in June that they would be:

  • Giving out digital keys to Japanese digital backers “as soon as ready” “before the public launch of the game”
  • Sending out physical game copies “as soon as they are ready”
  • Their top priority would be to get Japanese backers their copies
  • They would be speeding up the Japanese launch of the game
  • They would release information on additional efforts to apologise for the delay
  • They would investigate if they could do something additional to apologise for the delay

Ring completely hollow. The launch was delayed to October. Physical copies have been in stores for nearly a week, meaning that the copies themselves must have been ready for far longer. Despite this, backers have not yet even been shipped the games yet. Likewise, digital releases were not ready before the public launch of the game, with the PS4 version not available yet at the time of this article’s publication. No effort at all has been put into making reparations with Japanese backers.

Since the shipping delay for backers was announced via e-mail, this author, also a backer, has made multiple attempts, in both English and Japanese, to make contact with 505 Games and Fangamer to inquire about the delay. As of this article’s publication, all such attempts have been completely ignored.

A recurring opinion amongst Japanese backers is that 505 Games has determined that due to the vast majority of backers being from outside Japan, they feel no obligation to treat Japanese backers with any respect or sincerity. Though this might be little more than blind conjecture, with each day passing by with not a word from the publisher regarding the delay and the games still not shipping, it gets harder and harder to shake the creeping suspicion that it might be true.

Update (2019/10/31): A full week has passed since the public release of the game in Japan. The game has still not shipped to backers. To make matters worse, the PS4 download version of the game is now available, yet backers have still not received download codes.

All attempted inquiries, both from this author and numerous other backers, remain completely ignored.

Update: (2019/11/01): Over a week after the delay was first announced to Japanese backers via e-mail, the first Kickstarter update to make a mention of the delay at all was released for the first time.

The update gives no explanation as to why the shipping of the game and distribution of digital copies has been delayed, but confirms that 505 Games has stock of the physical copies in their warehouse only just arriving, and that as of the publishing of the update they have not yet begun to ship the copies. The updates says that shipping of the game “should” begin on Friday, but does not indicate whether the warehouse is located in America or Japan, or if Friday is referring to Japan’s or one of America’s timezones.

The timeframe given for the distribution of download codes was “early next week”.

In any case, the admission that shipping of copies had not begun yet was also indication that the individual Fangamer pages having previous displayed PS4 copies with the status “drop shipment in progress” was lying to backers.

The post also included a statement from Igarashi himself apologising to backers for the delay, but included a line in the original Japanese text saying that he has “received reports that some (Japanese) backers have not received the game”, making it sound like the problem is affecting only a minority of backers. Backers have voiced confusion at this statement, as there are no visible reports online of any backers having received their copies of the game yet, and indeed, the same update includes 505’s admission that copies are only just arriving in their warehouse, which seems incriminating of how backers have not been shipped the game at all. Some are speculating that 505 has not been reporting the situation accurately to Igarashi and developer Artplay, possibly playing down the problems with the Japanese launch.

There was again no mention of the supposed “something additional to apologise for the delay” originally mentioned in June.

Overall, the update did close to nothing to alleviate backers’ concerns. Despite saying that the game would be shipping from 505’s warehouse, the update lacked crucial information on which country the warehouse is located in, which would greatly change how long the game would take to arrive for backers. No explanation at all was given regarding the tardiness in the distribution of download codes. Given the track record of 505’s statements that the game should release in Japan in June, that it should release in September, and that it should arrive earlier for backers, some backers are very understandably expressing skepticism that the timeframes given in the update, which also conveniently use the word “should”, will be adhered to.

One backer, who prefers to be known by the handle “Ranmafan”, had the following to say:

“I said way back in June on the Kickstarter page that we were being treated like B level backers. Today I feel like we are treated worst than that. No respect is given to us.”

“I’m kinda shocked this isn’t a bigger story than it is. The anger I’ve seen from backers here is unlike any I’ve seen in the Japanese video game community.”

Ranmafan is a long-time follower of the Castlevania series ever since the first game, who became an especially huge fan since Symphony of the Night, and backed the Kickstarter campaign for Bloodstained wanting to see another Iga-style game.

“Earlier this week I saw a video where a producer for Bandai Namco apologized for a mobile Tales of game being delayed until next year. The apology in that had more weight, sincerity, and deserving of forgiveness than all of the small apologies Iga and the rest of the crew handling this mess have given combined. It’s sad people waiting for a mobile game got a more real and sincere apology than people who backed a campaign with their money from the people that took it from them and just screw up over and over.”

All attempted inquiries, both from this author and numerous other backers, remain either completely ignored, or answered with vague, misleading, or substance-lacking statements such as the replies Ranmafan received, or simply repeating the earlier statements that the game would be shipping “in the coming weeks” with no further details.

It is unfortunate that this sort of dishonesty, insincerity, and smoke and mirrors has become endemic in 505’s interactions with Japanese backers, and shows a complete absence of good faith on their part.

Update: (2019/11/06): Despite the statement in the Kickstarter update on 1 November 2019 that PS4 copies would begin shipping on Friday (1 Nov), most backers have still not received shipping notices. The update also stated that digital copies would begin distribution early the following week, but as of Wednesday night in Japan, these have not been distributed either.

Update: (2019/11/08): Download codes were sent out to backers on November 7, but all of the PS4 codes distributed were invalid. As of the morning of November 8, no replacement codes have been distributed.

Update: (2019/11/12): PS4 download codes for the game itself were activated on November 11, but as of November 12 the codes for DLC content sent to Japanese PS4 backers remain invalid.

 

Also see: Bloodstained- Japan Release Interview with Igarashi Koji

31 COMMENTS

  1. I pay 29000 yen for kickstarter this game
    Now, they do not ship my game
    In June, not backer Ordinary people buy game over the counter for 5000 yen
    I ask refund, they say no
    Bloodstained is fuck

    IGAは505とか言うクソ会社と縁を切ってくれ!

  2. Japanese backer here. I backed the game for $150 and still haven’t gotten anything except a stupid Steam key that I can’t even use because my only computers are an ancient laptop and a tablet I use for work.

    I’ve emailed Fangamer about the delays and my torn slipcase and gotten no replies.

    I’m the one who talked to “”Angel”” as he calls himself on reddit earlier in June and he strang me around with non-answers and purposely ignored and miscontrued parts of what I said. Meanwhile the so-called fans in that shithole started downvoting my posts and harassing me via PM and I ended up just sick of it all and deleted my reddit account entirely. Western bloodstained fandom is a cesspool of insufferable self-centered shitheads.

    This whole clusterfuck has made me lose any and all goodwill I had for the game. In fact when it’s somehow retroactively made me hate Castlevania too, I tried to go back and play Order of Ecclesia the other day and it made me feel upset because of this bullshit.

  3. By the way check out ““angel””’s first post in the reddit thread where I finally managed to get hold of him after he ignored me on twitter for a week while responding to everyone else

    He starts by saying that PR isn’t his job with a tone of “it isn’t my job to deal with you shits”, but the. Whose job is it when he’s the one posting on the board? And what, is it the backer’s fucking job to have to jump through hoops just to get a straight answer on when we’re getting what we were promised four years ago when you assholes decided to suddenly not give it to us?

    Screw that guy and screw 505 games

  4. 記事を書いてくれてありがとうこざいます。私もこれの被害者(?)です。特典もソフトもまだ届いてなくて本当に残念ですので、迅速な解決を願っています。

  5. 俺のもまだ届いてない。
    出資した人をこんな風に扱ってほんとどうかしてるよ。
    この会社の関わってるゲームは二度と買わない。

  6. 100ドルPS4版のバッカ―です。自分の状況を共有します
    ・特典は届いたけど化粧箱が破損していました
    ・ゲームは届いてません。発送メールも来てません
    ・お詫びのDL版も来てません
    ・メールでファンゲーマーにいつ届くのかって聞いたけど1週間経っても返事が来ません

    Steam版を動かせる環境がないので未だに遊べていません

    本当に最悪だとしか言いようがありません。今更届いてももうやる気にはなりません。IGAのゲームも505のゲームも二度と買いません。ここまで蔑ろにされたせいで悪魔城の旧作すら嫌いになりそうです

  7. They haven’t put out the patch they promised us either, and don’t forget how they suddenly cancelled the Vita version. Shame, because the game itself is brilliant.

  8. I’m in Europe and I got everything on time perfectly fine. Maybe these people should try contacting support? Problems won’t solve themself without you doing something about them.

  9. クソ毛唐どもは死ねよ、日本のゲームに群がる蝿のくせに何上から目線でもの言ってやがる
    IGAもこんなカスどもに媚びやがって絶対に許さない
    届いたら売ってやるし二度とIGAのゲームは買わない
    何が一部のバッカーだ全員だよ
    現状把握してねぇのかそれともボケてんのか
    ふざけやがって

  10. There’s a new update which offers no explanations, has Igarashi saying only “a few” backers haven’t received the game yet when it’s ALL OF US, confirms that the drop shipment thing from fangamer was straight up lies because they haven’t actually shipped anything yet, and confirms that backers will get their “apology” codes two weeks after the game was released in Japan.

    I also want to point out that the staff on the discord channel are a bunch of narcissitic egomaniacs straight up ignoring Japanese backers while replying to the american wankers sucking up to and fellating them over what a terrific job they’re doing. I’m not even kidding.

  11. ブラステが年内に届くとはおもえないね。ホントどうしてこうなったのやら、、
    fangamerの関わったKSには二度と出資しない

  12. 国内バッカーさん

    参考になりました。さっそく問い合わせフォームを使ってアートプレイさんに意見表明しました。

    確かに、505には相手にされていません。私も何度か日本語や拙いながらも英語で問い合わせて見ましたが、返事を貰ったことが一度もありません。その傍でスタッフが国外バッカーに返事をしていたので、たまたま見なかった等というのはあり得ません。

    505は何もしないと決めたようなので、アートプレイさんが最後の希望です。僕はずっと前からIGAのファンなので、IGAならなんとかしてくれると信じたいです。

    以上、お目汚し失礼いたしました。

  13. Not personally interested in the game but it’s pretty terrible how Japanese gamers are treated. Let’s hope those incompetent and lying companies get their act together anytime soon.

  14. Sad to hear that the Japanese backers are being treaed this way.

    Shipping aside though, since it’s mentioned in the article, having the discord and forums run by volunteers who are nothing more than powertripping idiot children is one of the stupidest things they’ve done. The discord is literally just a circlejerk personality cult of cringey losers falling over each other to fellate Angel and Question so that they can get a chance to be turned into mods. Meanwhile backers with legit concerns are banned for no reason because they don’t want to hear about problems, and they just make up reasons to ban people that the idiot staff just believe.

    I’ve been lurking the discord a couple of months now and it’s sickening how unprofessional they are with it.

  15. The mods on the Japanese part of the Discord channel banned a guy for replying to their posts with stamps, and when asked about it made up some nonsense about how he was harassig mods with prank calls or something. It turned out he’d already returned with a new account and called them out on how these were outright lies, and the mods went and started swearing at everyone and insulting Japanese backers in general and admitted that they banned him for using stamps because “replying stamps is accursed” (these idiots are really bad at Japanese). I’m not even kidding.

    Proof: https://imgur.com/a/DVtvxbX

    505 is leaving the running of the Japanese channel to idiots who can neither read nor write Japanese to any competent level, which leads to them spreading misinformation and nonsense and misunderstanding backers and banning people for no reason.

  16. To the article writer: Just a heads up that Famitsu from two weeks ago has an interview with IGA where he talks about his relationship with 505, might be a good idea to look at that.

  17. I posted about the discord problem on reddit and the same guy who was being s lunatic on discord started accusing me of starting other threads discussing problems with the kickstarter.

    The threads themselves seemed legit so i’m not sure what he’s trying to prove, but some of them don’t even have anything to do with the Japan release, predating the announcing of the delay, and are clearly by western backers.

    The guy’s a sociopath trying to start a witch hunt so he can pin all his problems on one person now

    https://imgur.com/a/eJewITe

    This is the sort of people running the official bloodstained discord

    • レヂットとかいうクソ毛唐のサイトにはクソレイシストしかいねーよ、ゲームサブレとか管理者が全員白人主義者のクズだわ

  18. PS4版のバッカーです。ソフトがまだ届いてませんし発送メールも来てません。そろそろ消費者センターにでも相談した方がいいのですかね?IGAは一体なんでこんなことを許しているんですか。幻滅しました。

  19. Redditとかいうクソ毛唐どものクソ掲示板でこのことを話題に挙げようとしたらクソカス管理者にスレを消された、理由を聞いても答えないし絶対505から金取ってんだわあいつら。通りでニュースにも上がらないわけだ、あのクズどもは一人残らず惨たらしく氏ねや

    • てかIGAの会社に問い合わせたのに返信が来ねえ、呑気にインタビューやってる場合かよしかも一部のバッカーだとかホッとしてるとかふざけんなこの野郎

  20. しかも木曜日になってるのにフィジカルもデジタルも来てねえわIGAのボケなにがホッとしてるだふざけやがって

  21. 今日やっと届いたけどここまで散々な目に合ったのでやる気にもならない。この件でIGAが嫌いになった。ソフトも特典もメルカリで売る予定。

    IGAのゲームは二度と買わない

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