PlanetVITA Redaktion, am 29.07.2012, Seite 2 von 2
PlanetVITA: Hello from Germany! Thank you for giving us the opportunity to have this interview with you. Can you tell us something about yourself and your team?
Ghostlight: Hi I’m Ross and I’m the Community Manager here at Ghostlight. I’ve been working here since 2007, when I joined as a games tester and I became Community Manager early last year. I’ve been gaming since I got my NES and these days I’m mainly into RPGs.
Ghostlight themselves were first formed in 2004 with the idea of bringing Japanese PS2 titles to the PAL territories. Our first game was Shin Megami Tensei: Lucifer’s Call, (a.k.a. Nocturne over in the US and Japan), which we then followed with the Digital Devil Saga series, all of which met with great success.
After that we extended our reach a little wider and published some homegrown content on Wii and DS, most notably the Dancing on Ice game, as well as some other, broader titles, such as International Athletics on DS, PSP and iPhone (a 2012 version of which is available for free on the App Store right now!)
However, we decided to concentrate on what we know and love and have firmly returned to the Japanese products of late, with the Agarest series on PS3 and Persona 3 Portable, Persona 2: Innocent Sin, Fate/EXTRA and Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky on PSP reaffirming our commitment to the J-RPG genre.
PlanetVITA: In the past you already released a great number of Sony PSP and Nintendo DS games here in Europe. Do you plan to continue this strong support now with the Sony PS Vita and the Nintendo 3DS?
Ghostlight: Both the 3DS & the Vita certainly look very interesting to us and we are looking into a number of games for these consoles.
In fact we’ve already got a couple of releases planned for the 3DS as, along with Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 on DS, we will be releasing Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor Overclocked on 3DS and just last week we announced we will be releasing the Japanese action driving game Runabout 3D: Drive Impossible in Europe as Crash City Mayhem.
PlanetVITA: We've noticed that your studio published a lot of Japanese RPGs here in Europe. Is it just a coincidence, or are you fans of the genre? Seeing as your studios became known to many RPG-fans because of your library of games, you really had an impact on the European market for us. So, is there any specific process that takes place if you look into what’s the next game your studio is going to publish?
Ghostlight: We’re big fans of Japanese RPGs and we’re always keeping an eye open for new ones coming from Japan.
Everyone who works at Ghostlight is free to suggest any games they think may be worth investigating. In fact I’ve always been encouraged to do that, even when I was
just starting out as a Tester. There are a few criteria I tend to look at when deciding what games are worth evaluating. The first is how interesting a game looks. I tendm to read up on a lot of games coming out in Japan and the US and if I come across anything that looks interesting or just makes me want to play it then I’ll shoot off an email about it. I also keep an eye on my Twitter followers and the comments over on the Ghostlight Blog to see what everyone’s interested in. We’ve done some very interesting fan surveys through our website that have directly determined products we’ve released and we plan to build on that two-way communication in the future.
At that point we’ll talk to whoever has the rights to publish the game in Europe to get an evaluation copy, which is then passed to the testing team for evaluation. If a game is viewed positively then a sales projection is made and we put together an offer to try and acquire the title.
PlanetVITA: I know you probably can't tell us much about this - but are there any plans to bring more of the Legend of Heroes-games over to Europe? Like the new Legend of Heroes: Zero no Kiseki Evolution, which is about to release this year in Japan? And what about that mysterious Nintendo 3DS game that you announced for a release this year?
Ghostlight: We really enjoyed working on Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky in fact I think it was my favourite game released last year by any publisher. We’d love to work on the sequel, Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky SC, if the opportunity is there, but at this point it’s too early to say much more than that.
As for the mysterious 3DS game, well it’s not so mysterious anymore as we have just announced that we will be publishing Runabout 3D: Drive Impossible in Europe as Crash City Mayhem.
Personally I’m really enjoying this game. While it might not seem like a typical Ghostlight game it does have a very Japanese feel and how many other games let you choose between driving a tank and a moped?
PlanetVITA: From your position as one of the biggest European publishers, what do you think on the ongoing war between portable gaming devices like the PS Vita and the 3DS, against the growing market of Smartphones and Tablets?
Ghostlight: Well in general we try to be fairly platform agnostic here. It really is all about the games. Of course we also have to look at the potential sales for each game and while certain genres may be better suited for tablet and mobile phone there is still a sizable fan base for the type of games we do on the handheld consoles, while in the west the various mobile phones are still relatively uncharted waters for JRPGs.
Having said that, we have recently re-released International Athletics 2012 as a free-to-play game with online leaderboards on iPhone. So, if the right game comes along for the right price we’d certainly be prepared to put out more games on smartphones or tablets.
PlanetVITA: Most of your games got a special trade with some pretty sweet Collector Editions. Do you think retail releases are becoming a thing of the past, or still have a place on the market nowadays?
Ghostlight: The importance and popularity of downloadable game has increased a lot over the last few years and will probably only increase further as internet speeds get faster. Certainly from our point of view online stores such as the PSN are really appealing, as they can never go out of stock, so people are always able to buy our games.
Having said that, it’s worth noting that as soon as we started talking about porting JRPGs to PC people were asking us to make sure we released physical collector’s editions, so I don’t think they’re going away anytime soon. That’s particularly true with regard to niche genres such as the JRPG, where a lot of people have a collector’s mentality.
PlanetVITA: As the last question that is mainly of interest for us German gamers - as a publisher that brings their games to most of Europe, how do you decide on translating a game into German?
Ghostlight: It usually comes down to the question: do the extra sales from German speaking countries warrant us producing a fully localised version? Unfortunately where JRPGs are concerned the answer tends to be ‘no’. The reason is that the cost of translating these games’ vast storylines is tremendously expensive. Plus, there are the substantial additional costs and time required to implement and test each language version which is a huge task in itself.
Actually sometimes, we don’t even have the option of translating a licensed game to anything other than English. This is usually due to the fact that the original Japanese developer may already have assigned their team to new projects so they’re no longer available to work on more than one version for us.
We do always make a concerted effort to provide comprehensive and fully localised manuals and of course in an ideal world, we’d love to be able to translate all of the games we release into as many languages as possible, but sadly this hasn’t always been viable.
PlanetVITA: Thank you for answering our questions Ross! But the last word is yours, do you have anything left to say, that you want to tell our readers?
Ghostlight: Thank you for having me. For more news about all our upcoming games please keep an eye on the Ghostlight Blog, our Facebook page or our Twitter account. And make sure to check out our awesome collector’s editions on the Ghostlight Store where we often offer some exclusive items.