For all of the hubbub of game developers using Kickstarter, it’s mostly Western audiences and game-makers who are the most active users of this crowdfunding method. When it comes to Japanese developers, however, only one comes to mind: former Capcom R&D Head and current Comcept CEO and Founder Keiji Inafune, who is more well-known as the man who created the Mega Man and Dead Rising franchise.
His upcoming project, Mighty No. 9, raised more than US$4 million worldwide: US$3.85 million on Kickstarter and the rest on PayPal. Naturally, this would have set waves in motion for other developers in the country to follow that route. However, that hasn’t been the case due to language and platform limitations.
In a Gamesindustry.biz feature, Inafune said that it’s beyond that and attributed it to the Japanese developers’ lack of understanding of the tastes of outside markets. “Looking at the data for the backers of Mighty No. 9, approximately 60 per cent of those people were from North America. So of course, the Japanese developers would have to make something that appeals to the North American audience, and currently a lot of Japanese developers can’t actually tell what the North American audience wants. And until they learn how to be able to do that, that’s one of the biggest hurdles.”
The easiest way to gauge overseas interest is to analyse which Japanese-developed games work with Western audiences. Inafune brought up the Bionic Commando franchise which was more popular in North America than in Japan. “The people in the company didn’t fully understand this, so it was hard to get them to understand there’s still a possibility for profit here, still a possibility to make a good game from something like this. Until we can understand the American market in that sense as well, it’s going to be hard for other private [Japanese] companies to get into Kickstarter.”
Despite being open about crowdfunding, Inafune said that he doesn’t want to completely move away from the traditional publishing and developing models. “We don’t want to rely entirely on crowdfunding, but it is very important to us that we can make something we want and the fans want. So if there is another situation where it’s something that fans want to be directly involved in, there is the possibility of another crowdfunded game. But that’s not the only option and we’re thinking of many other ways as well.”
KickstarterUnited States of America
Kickstarter aims to let creative people of all kinds — journalists, artists, musicians, game developers, entrepreneurs, bloggers — raise money for their projects by connecting directly with fans.