Now into their second year, Idea Factory International is one of the newer companies dedicated to bringing Japanese games to America, Europe and worldwide across consoles and more recently, PC via Steam. Recently, we were able to have an interview with Idea Factory International’s David Alonzo, about the company, their games and possible plans for the future.
———- About Idea Factory
It’s been almost a year since IFI’s first published title, Monster Monpiece came out in the west, how was it received by American and European audiences in comparison to the Japanese release?
“We got a lot of positive feedback from fans about the gameplay and were happy to bring it over to let people experience it!”
As the international branch of a Japanese game developer, is there a lot of communication between the two entities? Is the International branch directly controlled by Idea Factory or does it operate autonomously?
“For all intents and purposes, we operate autonomously. However, since Idea Factory holds the license for the titles we publish, we still have to get approval from them when it comes to things like bonus items. We are representing their games for the West after all!”
Also, do the developers of the games get feedback from the international team in regards to how the western fans react to particular game elements?
“Yes, we definitely let the team know how our fans react to the games and gameplay elements. I see the Neptunia games as constantly evolving and improving, and I think part of that is thanks to the feedback we get from our fans.”
What does IFI think are the main differences between Japanese and overseas fans of their games?
“Hmm, that’s a tough one. The Neptunia series has a pretty universal appeal and fans on both sides have a really good sense of humor. Other than that, I don’t get to interact too much with Japanese fans of the games, but what I do know about Western fans is that they’re awesomely proud of their Nep love – they’re always sending us photos of them with their Limited Editions, and if we have creative contests we always get a ton of submissions that people clearly work hard on, and I’m glad that we can build that connection with our fans.”
For the steam releases of Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth, Fairy Fencer F and the upcoming Amnesia, are these ports handled in-house by Idea Factory International?
“We work with a team of developers in Japan to make these PC releases happen. Like us, the developers are a super small team, but I’m really impressed by how much they can do. Thanks, developers!”
Following the Monster Monpiece release, do you feel that ‘Genkai Tokki Moero Chronicle’ may possibly see an English launch in America & Europe sometime in the future?
“We’ve got our plans for upcoming titles lined up already and at the moment those don’t include localizing Genkai Tokki Moero Chronicle.”
———- About Otomate & Visual Novels
Have games from Idea Factory’s ‘Otomate’ label such as Hakuoki, which had been previously published by other companies, been successful in western markets?
“I can’t speak for other visual novels that have been published by other companies in the West, but I can say that when we announced a digital release for our first visual novel, Amnesia: Memories, it got a huge reception. Visual novel fans are pretty vocal about their love for the games, and based on that I’m looking forward to making those fans happy.”
If Amnesia does well with it’s western release, do you think it’s possible that other Otomate games such as Brothers Conflict & Diabolik Lovers could also be released in the west?
“I can’t say much for any titles in particular, but I really hope that if Amnesia: Memories is well-received in the West it’ll pave the way for us to publish more visual novels!”
What do you think about the increasing number of Visual Novels appearing on Steam? Is it a sign of niche Japanese games becoming more popular in the west?
“Steam’s a platform that lets a lot of smaller developers get their games out, so I think that leads to an increase in not only visual novels, but also RPGs, action games, and every other genre. At the same time, there’s been a recent surge of story-based games like The Walking Dead. Combine the accessibility of publishing on Steam with this shift of focus on story-based gaming and it makes sense that people are bringing more and more visual novels to Steam. To answer the question, I think all these visual novels appearing on Steam might just indicate the broader and more varied tastes of gamers these days. It’s like a buffet of gaming out there.”
———- About Neptunia
Also, a few bonus questions about the Neptunia series:
When Re;Birth3 comes out this summer, The Hyperdimension Neptunia series will have 6 games [edit: 5 published by IFI] on the PS Vita, all of which have been released in English, or planned for release soon. Do you think that this would make the HDN series one of the biggest franchises on the PS Vita so far?
*fans self* Dear me, you flatter us so! I think it’d only be 5 games for the Neptunia series though. (Re;Birth1, Re;Birth2, Noire, Neptunia U, and Re;Birth3)
With Re;Birth1 now having been on PC for a couple months, has it been selling well as the first steam game from IFI?
“We’re really pleased with how people have flocked to Re;Birth1 on PC! It’s encouraging to see new fans coming to the series via PC and I’m excited to be able to bring Re;Birth2, Re;Birth3, Amnesia: Memories, and more to the PC.”
Since Neptunia is known for referential humor, have there been many instances where some references had to be changed in the English translation due to the possibility of some fans not being aware of what was being referenced?
“Doing localization is always a balancing act for our translators and editors. We want to stick as closely to the Japanese script but if a line contains a kanji pun about fish, the editor is going to have to do some editing. When that happens, they have to work doubly hard to convey the same tone, since the literal meaning can’t be translated.”
And finally, who is your favourite CPU? – feel free to get other staff members to share their views on this one if you’d like
“When I asked the rest of the staff, this was the breakdown:
Neptune – 2
Nepgear – 2
Blanc – 1
Peashy – 1
Vert – 1
Noire – 1
Personally, I voted for Neptune just because she’s consistently hilarious whenever I’m playing the games. Plus, with that hoodie she’s the most practically dressed for battle. Every game character should just fight in sweats and sneakers.”