Japanese publishers are bending backwards left and right in their attempt to better cater to the tastes of the Western gaming market, which they are gradually realizing is one they simply can't ignore in the face of a shrinking market back at home. While Nippon Ichi Software certainly isn't one to miss out on seeing their quirky RPGs distributed outside of Japan, the publisher is in no hurry to make their games more "Western" in the process.
In an interview with GamesIndustry.biz, Nippon Ichi Software America president Haru Akenaga confirms that when it comes to international releases, NIS tasks its "developers not to change anything, and especially not to try to Westernise games." NIS values the brand of entertainment they've managed to build both in Japan and abroad, and the publisher would rather not dilute that by attempting to make something they THINK will better appeal to "Westerners".
"Once they lose their reputation with Japanese users, the game is no longer a good JRPG. We are trying to distribute JRPGs to European gamers, and that means we have to continue publishing good JRPGs. I don't want the developers to change anything."
Akenaga stresses that NIS is indeed interested in feedback from gamers globally, especially because the company is Japanese. It's for this reason that NIS has decided to begin publishing their titles directly in PAL markets, instead of through another third party like they used to. Through self distribution, NIS hopes to better communicate and share their brand directly to their fans in Europe.
In truth, Akenaga believes "hardcore" gamers in Japan and abroad are not so different in their drive to master and eventually break their RPG battle systems (for example). This works out well for NIS, as they feel they have no other market they can effectively tackle; the casual gaming market is already dominated by much larger publishers. The challenge is to keep satisfying an admittedly niche audience whilst ensuring company growth.