More Japanese games are getting released on PC these days than ever before, from massive titles like Final Fantasy XV to cult hits like Nier: Automata and even your anime-licensed RPGs and fighting games of choice. That’s no coincidence, according to Sega – and the success of these games on Steam is helping drive further interest on other platforms.
John Clark, Sega Europe executive vice president, says that interest in Japanese-developed games on digital stores – like Steam – has been especially strong in the last 18 months. “We’ve seen the growth of Japanese IP on Steam on PC; that never existed before. And it surfaces across other formats as well because gaming is now a social entity.”
As Clark tells GamesIndustry.biz, the prevalence of social media helps keep games alive. “You have your friends lists and you see what your friends are playing and it encourages you to dive back in to the games you maybe missed before or games you stopped playing.”
This growth is why we’re seeing series like Yakuza suddenly hit PC – games built very traditionally in the Japanese mold. As Clark says, from series perspective they’re “Single player, story-led, sequel, sequel, sequel.”
Yakuza remains its quirky self, and Sega doesn’t seem interested in changing it up to a Western style open world or bolstering the game with long-term service elements. Clark says the “franchise is being brought to the West and it’s not being changed for the Western market, in terms of the gameplay.”
Instead, “We’re representing the Japanese IP, the Japanese road map, the Japanese content to the relevant audience within the West. And whether there’s a need to change that or not, I don’t know. But it seems to be successful and it seems to be working.”