Koei Tecmo’s Dynasty Warriors has been going for over 18 years now, with eight numbered releases and countless expansions and special editions.
And in spite of being – for lack of a better term – very Japanese, the series has been a moderate success in the West.
“Since the start we’ve managed to bring it to the Western audience as well. We’ve received very positive feedback from our fans, which is great,” says Koei Tecmo producer Akihiro Suzuki.
“We’re confident that the gameplay is very accessible for a Western audience as well. Having said that, the franchise has been going on for quite a while now. People are getting used to the whole package - the gameplay, the plotline and the atmospheric setting of the game. But we need to make sure we’re keeping the series as fresh as it can be for future instalments.”
One of the ways Koei Tecmo has been keeping the series interesting is by collaborating with other IPs. Last year, the firm released Wii U exclusive Hyrule Warriors, a crossover with the Zelda series.
“Over the years we’ve seen a sales decline,” Suzuki says.
“The Dynasty Warriors series is targeted towards the core fans. But we’ve had a few collaborations recently that have given the franchise a second wind because they’ve brought in new fans that hadn’t given Dynasty Warriors a chance.
“So Hyrule Warriors gave the series some freshness. Now our task is to keep the new players happy now that they’ve had a chance to play. But overall with the franchise, we need to keep it fresh, both the Dynasty Warriors and the Samurai Warriors brands.”
KICK UP A STORM
Away from Dynasty Warriors, Koei Tecmo is hoping to reboot its Bladestorm IP, last seen in 2007 with Bladestorm: The Hundred Years’ War for Xbox 360 and PS3.
“It’s been seven years now since the initial instalment and the team wanted to do a sequel, but circumstances stopped them kicking off the project at the time,” Suzuki explains.
“We’ve been hearing from
the core fans that they’re still playing the original Bladestorm, and want to see a new entry.
“And then the new consoles came out, and they had far more capable hardware specs. The team felt now was the right time to come up with a reboot for Bladestorm.”
Where the Dynasty Warriors series is set during the battles for The Three Kingdoms from Japanese history, Bladestorm is set during The Hundred Year’s War. As
such, Suzuki believes it will speak more to a European audience.
“When Bladestorm launched the intention was to make it more suitable for the Western audience,” he explains. “That’s one reason why we chose the Hundred Year Wars’. Hopefully this Bladestorm will be as successful as it was in the Japanese market.”
But Suzuki doesn’t see that much of a difference between the UK and Japanese markets.
“There are bigger similarities between the two than ever before,” he explains.
“But we do feel that the PEGI rating system is slightly more strict than the rating system in Japan. Having said that, our games sell well, so it doesn’t bother us too much. We do feel there are restrictions in that sense, in terms of what we can make. It’s more the cultural difference between Japan and the Western audience that we do need to be careful of when creating our games.”
He concludes: “People tend to take a different approach to the games here in the UK than in Japan.”