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E3: Q&A - Hudson Entertainment's John Lee

The U.S. Branch of Konami-owned Hudson is having a intriguing E3 show, having recently licensed Turbografx content for the Wii virtual console. We grabbed an exclusive Q&A with Hudson's director of marketing, John Lee, on the state of the veteran company.

Brandon Sheffield, Contributor

May 10, 2006

5 Min Read

Hudson Entertainment is trying to make a big comeback in the Western console space this year, with a number of titles pending, including Bomberman: Act Zero, and the long-running Japanese RPG Tengai Makyo for 360, as well as titles for PSP and DS, including Dungeon Explorer and Nectaris (PSP) and Bomberman Land (DS). Currently, mobile games and services make up 50% of their business, and they are the second largest mobile publisher in Japan. In addition, the company has licensed their content for the Wii virtual console, alongside that of the Sega Genesis. We talked to Hudson on the show floor about all of these issues, in a short Q&A with the director of marketing, John Lee. Gamasutra: How did the deal with the virtual console work? Did you go to Nintendo, or did Nintendo come to you? John Lee: The details are high level, in fact a lot of people in our organization didn't even know about the deal until it was announced. Nintendo is very secretive about that. But we've worked with Nintendo from a very early stage, in fact we were the first third-party publisher with Nintendo. So ever since then we've worked with them. We've developed a lot of games for them, like Mario Party. So this deal came as an actual extension of that. When they were going to us they said "how can we work with people we used to compete with in the old console days, under this umbrella of the virtual console." It was a really good fit because they're trying to bring back people who used to play games, not your typical hardcore gamer. And a lot of our games really were more like that. They're not complex, they've always been very easy to pick up and play, so this deal made a lot of sense for us. We know this is where we want to be with them. We've determined that we'll launch almost all of our third party titles, then do some deals with some third party titles as well. GS: So you will go back and get some of the non-Hudson properties? JL: That is the plan. It comes down to two things. One is resources, and right now I'm sure our lawyers are working non-stop. There were so many games that came out for that system, over 300. So we have to go back to the original developer, and some of them aren't even around anymore, to say "we want to bring your games back on this platform." GS: Now that you're mostly owned by Konami, does that mean it will be easier to get games like Dracula X? And would you translate it for the US market? JL: It was considered one of the best games on the system… that's a really good question, and it's basically going to come down to what people want on the system. With third-party publishers, we’re asking what they want to see, what they'd really like to get out there. Will we translate it? Good question. We're launching in different companies. The platform will be the same, but the question is if we can take the time to work on these games. We don't have the code for a lot of these games, and it's all done through emulation. What we may do if it's not possible to localize is we may bring Japanese games out just in Japan. GS: So you'll bring different games out in different territories? JL: It depends, because the PC Engine had a lot more games than there were on the Turbo Grafx in the US. So there may be more out in Japan. GS: It's actually pretty easy to patch the CD titles without having the code, but I don't know if that's a route you'd want to take. JL: Well we only just announced that we'd be doing CD titles. In the past it was assumed it'd just be cartridge stuff. It's all downloaded, so you don't want people to wait for a 600 meg game to download. But now that they've announced the sleep mode, stuff can be downloading while you're not there, so there are ways to get those bigger files. It's a really great system. GS: How is that working as a business model and revenue source? Is it one lump sum, or is it essentially on a game by game basis? JL: The revenue deal hasn't been fully announced yet, but that'll come soon. I think one thing that will be appealing is the pricing structure for that. Once you see that it'll be clearer how our revenue breaks out. GS: It's interesting that Nintendo chose to bring out the Turbo Grafx, considering it wasn't that well known. JL: These sorts of discussions happen with Nintendo every day, but everyone realized that in the 16-bit era, the Turbo Grafx had a pretty good following, especially with the PC Engine in Japan. And the games are great, the library is big. One thing that Hudson was not known for, as opposed to Sega and Nintendo, is that those guys are marketing juggernauts. They really know how to reach the consumer, but we've always been more developer-oriented. So being third in a three-way race isn't a winning proposition. So back then we decided to focus on what we do best, and kind of went down that development route. GS: So is this sort of a marketing push to get Hudson back on the map for US consumers? JL: It's definitely an initiative for us. GS: With your console releases, are you going to try to get your brand on the box more? JL: Yeah, when it comes to brand recognition, I mean we haven't been properly at E3 for 10 years, so we want to make sure people see the bee more, because they seem to recognize that a lot.

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About the Author(s)

Brandon Sheffield


Brandon Sheffield is creative director of Necrosoft Games, former editor of Game Developer magazine and gamasutra.com, and advisor for GDC, DICE, and other conferences. He frequently participates in game charity bundles and events.

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