[The Otaku’s Study Exclusive] Interview with Idea Factory International CEO Haru Akenaga
It has been many years now since Idea Factory and their Compile Heart division entered the international market through a multitude of international publishers. Starting off with titles such as Record of Agarest War and Cross Edge, this listing has since expanded to a plethora of titles each year shared between a number of keen JRPG publishers including NIS America, Aksys Games, Ghostlight and Rising Star Games.
Last month it was announced that the company would be opening their doors to an international wing “Idea Factory International“, with the goal of “providing general and overall information regarding video games, animation and social apps to Idea Factory fans worldwide“. They have since opened their website with a launch campaign which saw seventeen lucky people walk away with some rather nice goodies based around different franchises owned by Idea Factory.
Now that the contest is over…. whats next? The Otaku’s Study was fortunate enough to ask Mr. Haru Akenaga, CEO of Idea Factory International a number of questions regarding the decision to launch this particular division of the company and what we can expect to see from them in the future.
With many of your titles already being published by other companies on the international market, what were some of the factors that helped you decide to open Idea Factory International?
We have been very fortunate and are very grateful to have a strong fan base outside of Japan. So, first of all, I’d like to thank each and every fan of Idea Factory for supporting the Idea Factory brand. There are many factors that helped us decide to open Idea Factory International… One thing we wanted to focus on was that there are many fans outside of Japan who are interested in many of the Idea Factory titles that only see a release in Japan. We hope to provide any news that is available in Japan to fans worldwide in a timely manner.
When opening Idea Factory International last month, what were some of your goals in doing so?
We wanted to provide a place for fans—a place where they can obtain all news relating to the Idea Factory brand, both in Japan and from third party publishers in the US and EU. In other words, we picture ourselves as a sort of information hub for the Idea Factory brand. Idea Factory releases a massive amount of titles in Japan, and their titles are licensed to various third party publishers. Each publisher has their own marketing style, and each one is superb in its own way.
But in order to strengthen the Idea Factory brand, we wanted to have a smoother and simpler communication hub, where Idea Factory fans can go and find out what’s going on with every single Idea Factory title. We couldn’t have created this information hub without the support and help of each third party publisher. So I’d like to use this opportunity to extend my gratitude to Aksys Games, Ghostlight, NIS America, and Rising Star Games.
What have you thought about the international response to your titles so far?
It is great to see that the fans’ support is growing each year. I am sure we can all agree that Idea Factory (Compile Heart) titles are the niche of the niche. That said, each third party publisher is receiving more and more support from our fans, so I can say that we are very fortunate to have such a dedicated and passionate fan base!
What do you think about the response to the launch of Idea Factory International so far? Have you gained any useful insight about interest in any specific games?
We have launched our site along with Facebook and Twitter pages for Idea Factory International. We’ve had an overwhelming amount of warm welcome messages, positive feedback on our website and for our Facebook/Twitter campaign. We can see our fans’ genuine excitement for this journey’s new beginning, and we are just happy to experience it with them.
There have been many suggestions and requests for Idea Factory titles that haven’t been localized. We’ve noticed that there are lots of requests for Otome titles, and it is very refreshing to hear that from the fans directly! We don’t have any Otome titles to be released by Idea Factory International at this moment, but we will definitely take it into consideration.
In your press release it was said that “Idea Factory International will focus on providing general and overall information regarding video games, animation and social apps to Idea Factory fans worldwide”. Does this mean that you wouldn’t consider directly publishing any of your titles internationally if there was a high demand for them?
We are always open to any opportunity, but if we were to release a title internationally, it would have to be something smaller in scale and one of our more niche titles.
In your opinion, how has the international demand for Japanese developed video games improved over the last few years? Do you see the demand warranting more developers / publishers such as yourselves to look into the market?
I cannot speak for other publishers/developers, but what we have noticed in the past several years—through our working with third party publishers—is that there exists a healthy number of Idea Factory fans in the US and EU. With their support, we have been able to work (license) with third party publishers in the US and EU continuously. By establishing Idea Factory International, I hope to make our relationship with third party publishers and our fans even stronger.
While you have started with a Facebook/Twitter Giveaway and an online forum, what else can we expect to see from Idea Factory International in the coming months?
We are planning for another giveaway campaign in the coming months. Please look forward to it!
Again, thank you very much for this opportunity to talk with you and your readers. And thank you for your continued support!
I would like to pass on my appreciation to Mr. Akenaga for taking the time out of his busy schedule to answer my queries, and also Nao Miyazawa for helping organize this interview!
With a number of Idea Factory titles currently picked up by international publishers and many more up for grabs, I look forward to seeing how the launch of Idea Factory International will help draw in interest to these niche but unique releases.