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Bandai Namco is trying its hand at launching titles for Codemasters, developing anime, kids and blockbuster next-gen games, experimenting with mobile, trialling free-to-play concepts... even launching major licensing initiatives. Christopher Dring discusses the many facets of the company with Europe CEO Naoki Katashima

You’re about to launch Grid Autosport for Codemasters at retail. You are also handling The Witcher 3 from CD Projekt. Why are these companies coming to you? Bandai Namco remains one of the strongest distribution networks worldwide. We have offices in most countries with sales, marketing and PR functions and direct-to-store level relationships. We have a strong relationship with Codemasters and had strong sales for Grid 2 and F1 2013. We have built great ties with CD Projekt and proved an excellent partner for them with The Witcher. The family market is a very important sector for us, too, with a heritage of stong IP and our ties with developer Little Orbit, which allows us to utilise our IP from the likes of Dreamworks, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon and Disney.

As a Japanese business how have you found the popularity of Eastern games in the West? Each European market is different. Having experience in each territory allows us to tap into our fanbase and offer all the titles are eager for us to release. For many years we’ve had requests to bring Tales of to European markets and even though cost of localisation is high we delivered on fans’ requests. We continue to look into what audiences want – what titles, what platforms, and ultimately we can’t always deliver on everything but are trying our best with titles such as Tales of Hearts R, Tales of Xillia 2, and Dragon Ball Z as well as new titles such as Short Peace. 47

We are not afraid to release to a challenging audience. Naoki Katashima, Bandai Namco

We are stronger on our community forums on a territory level and are talking directly to our fans to try and deliver what they want, which is key for us. We are extremely active in Europe with events such as Paris’ Japan Expo and London MCM Expo. Our core fanbase comes to visit us each year and it’s important we represent with a strong line-up.

One big Japanese game that appears to have done well is Dark Souls II. What lessons have you learnt from the launch of that title, and did it perform as you wanted?

Dark Souls is important to us. It is a prime example of our commitment following the move our company made to release Demon’s Souls and provided a deep and rewarding experience and proved


Bandai Namco relaunched Pac-Man last year with the Ghostly Adventures.

that we are not afraid to release to a challenging audience.

Is it always easy to explain to a broader consumer what the game is? No. Like the game itself it’s a challenge, but we set out to make the world aware of Dark Souls II. Its predecessor is a unique game and something that is talked and debated about every day. We’ve not seen many games that have this amount of fans and interest.

What are your thoughts on the rapid transition to next-gen? Has it made you try and speed up your development of PS4 and Xbox One projects? We have to focus on our business across entertainment, tie-ins and cross-collaborations, and decide if we are creating the right IP

June 6th 2014

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