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Namco Bandai's Japanese Developers 'Shifting Their Focus' To Worldwide Audience

As Namco Bandai continues global expansion, the Tekken publisher stressed to Gamasutra that the firm's Japanese teams are "really shifting their focus to a worldwide audience, making sure the products they make appeal globally."
Despite its biggest titles maintaining a distinct Japanese flair, Namco Bandai director of PR and marketing Todd Thorson told Gamasutra that the globalization of its Japan-based business remains a key focus going forward. "We truly [want to] globalize the development of Western-focused games," he said in an interview at E3 this week. "It happens on two levels." "Not only are the guys in Japan developing things there that are so well known and have a fantastic track record, they're really shifting their focus to a worldwide audience, making sure the products they make appeal globally." Namco Bandai officially formed Namco Bandai Holdings U.S.A. following the merger of Namco and Bandai in 2005. Namco Bandai's fighting game Tekken 6 is due later this year on U.S. consoles, along with Soul Calibur: Broken Destiny for PSP, the latter of which will feature Kratos, the star of one of the biggest U.S.-derived franchises, God of War. The publisher is also enlisting Western developers to create its games, including U.K.-based Volatile Games, which is developing Dead to Rights: Retribution. Namco's and other Japanese developers' Western development initiatives are an acknowledgment that the average Western gamer isn't as enamored with heavily Japanese-flavored games as they may have been 10 years ago. "Yeah, I think that certainly there's always going to be cultural differences. Different territories always like different styles of gameplay," Thorson said. In late 2008, Namco also launched its "Surge" label, whose purpose is to provide "cutting-edge, genre-defining games that are targeted at satiating the appetite of Western gamers."

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