On Day 3 of Anime Expo 2008, we had a chance to sit down and talk with tororo, CEO of Circus, about the English localization project of games such as Da Capo and Suika AS+ in more detail. During the interview, tororo described the general outline of MangaGamer’s operation and responded to feedback we presented about the current state of the games. Furthermore, he’s open to what the fans think, including what level of quality would be “good enough” for the fans to purchase the game as well as what games they would like. Please leave your comments in response to this article and we’ll forward your suggestions to Circus.
Starting off, tororo clarified that Circus was not in charge of the main localization operation, but that they are supporting the project to their fullest. In order to make it easier for other game makers to join this operation, Circus opted to work together with a few other companies to finance the operation, leaving control of the operation to a third party.
The person in charge of the operation is a Japanese person living and working in the United States, and he also has contacts in Europe. Circus and the other companies got into a dialogue with him and thus MangaGamer.com came about. In order to avoid legal complications with US law, it was decided to have the server hosted in the Netherlands. However, being in the Netherlands, payment would have to be collected in euros.
The expectation with MangaGamer is to reach 20,000 potential customers in Europe and also around 20,000 in the US. According to tororo, a Japanese company had previously released a game in Italy, netting 10,000 sales. Thus, he’s hoping he can reach that magnitude of sales with this new operation.
When asked about the high price for something that is a download-only product, tororo explained that they were not sure how many copies will actually be sold and that they need to recoup costs like the translation fees with the revenue. According to him, if more copies were to be sold, then perhaps the prices would become cheaper.
We then mentioned to him the current state of the English script from some of the games we purchased, noting that the English contains spelling and grammatical errors. He seemed interested in listening about the type of issues present and would like to improve the game up to a point where the fan would be satisfied. Furthermore, tororo wants to know exactly at what point would the script be “good enough” for the fans. We will collect the comments here and relay them to Circus.
When asked about packaged versions, tororo commented that perhaps if the site gets popular, they’ll investigate packaged versions. We suggested to him that maybe some sort of program could be set in place for people who have already purchased the download version to receive a copy of the packaged version at either a reduced price or for free. He thought that was a good idea.
Finally, we talked to him about the possibility of releasing other games, such as OVERDRIVE’s Kira Kira and NEXTON’s ONE. He thinks they’re a possibility, but he doesn’t know right now. Kira Kira would actually be more likely, since in order to release ONE, they would have to not only get the approval of NEXTON’s president, but they would also have to obtain the approval of the staff at Key who originally worked on ONE.
We would like to thank tororo-danchou and the rest of the Circus staff for taking the time to answer our questions.
UPDATE: Olf Le Fol talked to a representative at Japan Expo in Paris and posted his writeup. Among other things, the representative noted that the purchases made before the official opening of the site were of a beta version of the games, so the images we posted earlier may or may not reflect the finalized version of the games.