In an interview with UK-based magazine MCV, NIS America staff members talked about the difficulties of publishing, their market, and more. The interview featured comments from CEO Takuro Yamashita and producer Alan Costa, covered a wide range of topics. The interview, which can be read here on pages 36 and 37, also revealed some insight into the world of game publishing, and how not every gamble pays off.
The most startling information is Yamashita’s reveal that, if a game is released simultaneously on the Switch and PS4, the Switch version has outsold the PS4 version at a 2-to-1 rate. This was buried behind a couple of questions regarding SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy. Initially slated to be a PS4-exclusive, after a couple of meetings with Nintendo of Europe, SNK and NIS America SNK Heroines was now a physical exclusive for the Switch, with a digital version coming to the PS4. Perhaps due to NIS America’s status as a “second-tier publisher” compared to heavyweights like Bandai Namco or Square Enix, but small developers are looking to work with publishers to get their games published on the Switch.
Unfortunately for NIS America, they were unable to completely escape controversy in this interview, as Yamashita commented later on the deal that they struck for SNK Heroines. Writing in a press release, he apologized for any confusion regarding his comments on the PS4. His full comments read as follows:
I must extend my most heartfelt apology to SNK and Sony Interactive Entertainment. The truth is that the Nintendo Switch exclusive plan was originally decided by NIS America, and only later among discussions with influential SNK people did we decide the best option moving forward would be to have as much exposure as possible. This is why that in the end, we are bringing the PS4 version of SNK HEROINES to the market, and even supported this version at the NISA Press Event and in the press meetings in February and March.
In discussing matters with MCV, I thought that some insider information would make them interested in the overall conversation, and such lip service did not stand on the side of truth.
Once again, I apologize to SNK and Sony if it made them seem negative towards the PS4 platform in any way, and stress that the original goal of a “Nintendo Switch exclusive” version of SNK HEROINES came from NISA.
–Takuro Yamashita, NIS America CEO
The offending line in question makes Sony out to be hostile to smaller developers and publishers. Whatever the intended meaning behind the line, it still placed Yamashita in an uncomfortable position.
What’s more telling is that Switch owners are willing to buy games that they already own on other platforms. More specifically, Disgaea V. Yamashita says it sold just under two hundred thousand copies in the West, and estimated that 40% of those buyers already owned it for the PS4. With the PS Vita unable to support the memory requirements that Disgaea V had, anyone looking to play the tactical RPG on the go looked to the Switch, instead.
In terms of localizing and translation, Costa and Yamashita talk about the vast time requirements that Japanese games are requiring. With Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, NIS America was looking at a script with 2.4 million Japanese characters. With a rough translation equivalent of two characters to one English word, the 1.2 million-word script alone for Danganronpa V3 would put it ahead of A Dance to the Music of Time, the longest English-language novel at one million words. Not only that, but Danganronpa features stylized text and characters, all of which has to be manually redrawn. Whereas a typical JRPG would involve just one translator and editor over a year or longer, NIS America formed a six-person staff, and completed it in under five months.
Of course, NISA also touched on the debacle that Ys VIII turned out to be. After delaying the PC translation patch indefinitely due to engine issues, Costa and the rest of the localization team looked at their work pipeline, and how the team was structured. Promising that something “like [the poor localization] will never happen again,” hopefully NIS America will recover some goodwill in the months to come.