CEO Hisashi Koinuma on being trusted with big IPs, making an asset of the firm's Asian identity, and its goal of making a 5m-selling original IP
Game Industry. Biz met up with Koei Tecmo's CEO to discuss expansion, what's trending in the business industry of games & their recent success in the market. Hisashi Koinuma states that the conglomerate found global interest by focusing on their own Japanese identity when they have in fact been focusing on that specific subject for well over thirty years. Koei Tecmo fails to bring up the words 'Team NINJA' a single time in their ode to the golden brick road despite Team NINJA doing almost all of the work to give them this kind of "global success" to begin with.
I meet Koei Tecmo CEO Hisashi Koinuma on a day that's something of a quiet milestone for his company. Years of growth -- mostly organic, aside from Koei's acquisition of Tecmo a decade ago -- has seen Koei overspill its distinctive headquarters buildings in Hiyoshi, a university suburb in the commuter belt sandwiched between Tokyo and Yokohama. Today is the ribbon cutting ceremony for a new building in the Minato-Mirai waterfront district of Yokohama. Less than 20 minutes to the south by train, it will provide space for 1600 staff -- much-needed room for both expansion and consolidation.
So things are going along swimmingly at Koei Tecmo. For people that think Dead or Alive is a dead franchise that is the furthest thing from the truth. Koei Tecmo is in the green for things like Season Passes & individual DLC that keep them swimming instead of sinking thanks to the very supportive community. The success obviously doesn't just speak to Dead or Alive, but also with Nioh, and game industry leaders who have entrusted Team NINJA to create repetitious Dynasty Warrior clones like Zelda: Hyrule Warriors that went on to ship a little over one million units.
Believe it or not, Dead or Alive is still the flagship series of Koei Tecmo with over 10 million units shipped in the series history when you include digital purchases, it's likely a lot more than that. Judging by this interview they want you to believe that this goes to the Dynasty Warriors franchise, but the series was utterly milked into a late grave, with Koei releasing multiple repetitive titles a year to the point where fans of the series didn't know what to do with themselves. Now sales are dwindling for the franchise and nobody talks about it because Koei milks the udder with lazy formulas despite having a bevy of capital to create new and engaging products.
While the quality has diminished for Koei's games, the reviews are something that have never been particularly good. The Dynasty Warriors games tend to get very low marks for obvious reasons pointed out already and Team NINJA's games like Ninja Gaiden: Black, Dead or Alive and the Nioh franchise typically receive high scores. While this is indeed a business article, is it fair to say that Team NINJA is the golden goose of Koei Tecmo and they haven't given them one SHRED of credit for it?
Nioh was Koei's idea, but without the finesse and skill of Team NINJA this game would have been another failed Warriors experience, and it's proven by Tecmo's cheap aesthetics and lack of evolving game design. They can "go to the bank now" because of Team NINJA's expert craftsmanship in games, but Koei Tecmo is trying to ruin that as well with their loud lashes and strikes to Dead or Alive's quality in favor of a few extra bucks.
When the report switched to the mobile market the CEO went off to say that Chinese love to pay to get stronger in their games, while Japanese players like paying "some money" for lottery systems. While the market does indeed show growth in that regard, can you find articles or comments by these alleged players that love it? Or is this simply another greedy CEO that wants to attempt normalizing this travesty while demoralizing the Westerners for not paying enough? Because what we've learned from the hair color scandal alone is that all players globally HATE it and think something is seriously wrong with Koei Tecmo games for infringing this practice on their players!
"On the other hand, Japanese players prefer lottery or 'gacha' style systems, where you pay some money and don't know exactly what you'll get in return. Chinese players want to spend money directly to get stronger and win competitions. Western players are different again -- they prefer games where you can play and enjoy the game itself without paying much money. So, if we're going to launch in different markets, we definitely need to tune how the monetisation works in order to match the expectations of different cultures."
What is most disturbing about this statement is somehow this CEO thinks that Western's "prefer games where they can play and enjoy the game itself without paying much money." Where might I ask is the record on this? If anything the Western players have put in just as much money as anyone else, with a lot of players here in the DOA community buying season passes on the regular just as a way to donate and support the team. Would you say that almost 400 USD for four season passes is just a little cash?
This is an insulting report to anyone that dedicates their time to Koei Tecmo's games. Instead of thanking the players and giving credit to Team NINJA for bringing them this far and keeping them relevant they try to makes excuses for their maniacal business practices and they take no responsibility globally for their recent actions that have irritated everyone. Dead or Alive, Nioh 2 and Ninja Gaiden are excellent franchises, and unfortunately KT's idea of business ruins the experience for everyone but them.
At Free Step Dodge we desire to post offline community posts, we want to highlight the amazing talent of Team NINJA in this process. Unfortunately in times like these we either fight or we get taken advantage of. The next topic is Koei Tecmo's response to the hair debacle which is about as half-assed as their latest business report.