Industry Insight – Interview With Rising Star Games
Here at Gamebrit HQ, we were recently lucky enough to chat with Tristram Defries from Rising Star games. Tristram has been in the industry for 15 years and is currently responsible for PR at RSG. Gamebrit spoke to him about what’s worked well for the team, the future, and the No More Heroes debate.
GameBrit – How does Rising Star Games choose which games to publish?
Tristram Defries – In short we have to answer a couple of questions as best we can:
1. Does it fit our Home of Japanese Games brand? I.e. is it an entertaining, quality Japanese game?
2. Is it financially viable?
GB – Are there any games you’d love to bring to the UK but can’t due to market pressures?
TD – Yes – but I won’t answer that with specifics.
GB – What titles have been the biggest hits for you?
TD – Harvest Moon DS and No More Heroes. The Harvest Moon series is very popular indeed.
GB – With the stream of ‘shovelware’ released on DS & Wii do you find it more difficult to get your titles noticed?
TD: I think this is a problem faced by any publisher, large or small. Of course it seems a smaller problem if you have (1) a well-known, popular brand or sequel and/or (2) lots of money for marketing – but the latter doesn’t always help deliver a good return on investment.
GB – The Harvest Moon series is getting close to it’s 10 year anniversary in the UK, do you have any events planned to mark this like in Japan and the US?
TD – I won’t say.
GB – Will you be moving into the download market anytime soon?
TD – This is under consideration but I won’t tell you any more than that. Boring, aren’t I? But I’ll do it again.
GB – Are there plans to bring titles to 360 & PS3?
TD – Yes – we will be working with Gamebridge to bring Way of the Samurai 3 to PAL territories in early 2010. We also have plans for RSG titles on 360 and PS3 but it is too early to talk about them.
GB – Has the market for Japanese titles changed during your time at Rising Star Games?
TD – I’ve only worked at Rising Star Games for a few months but it seems to me that “Japanese games” has always been a very broad category that unwarrantedly turns some people off – of course, ‘core’ gamers have been much more willing than ‘casual’ gamers to try Japanese games. However, I think we are persuading an increasing number of people that many Japanese games are great and, of course, that we are The Home of Japanese Games.
GB – When No More Heroes was released in the UK you used the censored Japanese version instead of the US version which had full blood effects. With hindsight, seeing as European gamers are more comfortable with mature content, do you think this decision negatively affected sales?
TD – Well, while I have no wish to reignite this debate, I don’t believe we published a ‘censored’ version: we are the home of Japanese games and so we published the version that was published in Japan. Let’s agree to differ on that!
To answer your question, I’ve seen comments from people who say they didn’t buy the game because it wasn’t the USA version, but I think it is impossible to say which version would have sold more. Suppose we published the USA version instead – I think it would have been rated 18 by PEGI and this may have resulted in fewer sales. This wasn’t the reason why we didn’t publish the USA version, I just think it supports my view that it’s impossible to say whether sales would have been better or worse either way.
GB – Has Little King’s Story hit your sales expectations?
TD – Of course we at Rising Star Games are biased, but we all genuinely think it’s a great game and, if you look at the reviews, which I’m sure you’ll agree are very favourable on the whole – mostly 8s and 9s out of 10 – this is a game that reviewers seem to enjoy too. If you look at the comments on those same reviews and discussions elsewhere on the web you see members of the public largely praising the game as well. We are going to keep trying to persuade people to buy it.
I must add that the developers are lovely people who deserve many more sales!
GB – In future, will you be giving freebies to fans who preorder your titles?
TD- This is under consideration but I won’t tell you any more than that.
GB – Would you consider bringing collectibles or soundtracks to the UK? (We’d to see a Little King’s Story OST!)
TD – This is under consideration but I won’t tell you any more than that. I’m being boring again, aren’t I? In fact, Luminous Arc 2 will include an official soundtrack CD.
You know, we always have our ear to the ground and want to know what people want in terms of such items. Indeed there is a thread on our forum about this very issue.
GB – Murumasa is a beautiful game and one that could plug a gap for hardcore gamers on Wii, will you be backing this title with a strong ad campaign?
TD – I think we have a strong marketing campaign for Muramasa, and we hope to have at least as good as a reception to the game as Ignition had in the USA. It is a fantastic game and has mostly reviewed very well over there.
GB – What big titles can we expect to see from you in 2010?
No More Heroes 2 and Fragile Dreams will prove to be very popular, but we have a great line-up outside of those two, so watch this space!
Our thanks go to Tristram for taking the time to answer our questions. Harvest Moon: Tree of Tranquility is out now in all good games stores