A certain major publisher of JRPGs has sporadically changed its tune on localizing its lesser known games. What was once “buy our PlayStation 4 musou action game, and we might consider your Nintendo 3DS JRPG,” has strikingly become “give us the money up front and maybe your game will be localized.”
At least that is the sense CEO of Square Enix Europe Phil Rogers gives in an interview in the latest issue of Game Informer. Rogers says that the company has a lot of localization projects that might never happen, and it could fall upon the fans to make those games available through crowd-funding. On localizations:
“It’s a topic that comes up a lot, and we understand why it does. To a great extent, in a really positive way, we’re absolutely humbled that we have this loyal and dedicated fanbase that wants to give us the feedback. We’re constantly working with the teams in Tokyo to show them this and to work with them there. The simple truth is that in some ways the development process and the tools, it’s not always an easy undertaking to reopen a game and add localization subsequently.”
Quick tip: How about you plan and execute your localization alongside development, so you don’t have to reopen it?
However, the real the solution he has for a future relationship with fans is with crowd-funding, giving Square Enix an idea of what fans want by having the money up front.
“I would love to try and work with that, to find a way, because ultimately we want to satisfy the demands of the fans. I think also, our fans are very rational. They understand, and if we explain things, they often go, ‘Oh, I get that now. Thanks for explaining.’ They know it’s complex, or very expensive, and it’s not as simply as you say as using Google Translate.
To get that essence of it actually translated requires this amount of resource. To see if fans want to sign up for it and say, ‘This is the absolute demand for it,’ and we can set targets and say if we achieve that, then we can do it. I think that’s a relationship that seems very natural to build. I’d love to see how we get that to work.”
Sounds like a hassle to have such demanding fans. Nevermind that Square Enix has been localizing its own games since the 1980s, though. This is the way the modern landscape works. Smaller niche titles don’t have a chance to make it when Tomb Raider and free-to-play fads of the week rake in all the money.
Nevermind that Atlus generally turns a profit after localizing similarly large projects.
In the meantime, Dragon Quest, Mana, SaGa, and whatever other games that Square Enix built its foundations on that can’t cut it across the ocean are out of luck if fans don’t pony up beforehand. Sorry guys, you picked the losing team.
It’s not a horrible idea, but there are several major drawbacks. One, if crowd-funding fails, it gives Square Enix an easy “I told you so” to fall back on, leaving a game forever from our grasp.If it succeeds, who is to say where it stops? Crowd-funding is for the small guy trying to get themselves off the ground, not major corporations looking for a risk-free way to publish games it should be handling itself.
Or, Square Enix, you could recognize that you are a global company with fan bases around the world and accept the responsibility that comes with that. Don’t put that on us. I admit Square Enix, a lot of fans ask too much by demanding you make sequels and remakes from the ground up. That’s your call if you do or not, and I respect that. Take what you give as it comes.
But if you make a game that fans want, there is only one entity that should be responsible for getting that to them. Yourselves. Otherwise, you shouldn’t be shutting down fan-translations if people are acting in your absence.
Square Enix has announced localizations for plenty of its games as of late like Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness, Final Fantasy XV, and even more niche titles like Yuki no Setsuna and the next NieR game. However, we are still waiting for confirmation on practically every Dragon Quest game to be released over the last five years, XI and the Nintendo 3DS remake of VII most specifically, SaGa: Scarlet Grace, the PlayStation 4 and PS Vita ports of Star Ocean: Second Evolution, and the Final Fantasy Adventure.
It should be said that Square Enix is better than most when it comes to delivering a trustworthy project and stepping up to localize certain titles. That is something even cynical fans who want everything like me can’t deny. However, I’ll be asking for Dragon Quest VII until it’s in my hands or my lips turn cold and blue.