Tecmo Koei’s ten-year Dynasty

Famed for its multi-million selling success in the East, Tecmo Koei’s Dynasty Warriors series celebrates its tenth anniversary this year.

But the hard work is not over yet. The publisher is still trying to grow the franchise’s UK audience and it believes helping gamers to better understand the series’ appeal is the solution.

The Warriors games – or Musou games, as they are called in Japan – have a specific formula: players must experience each game’s chosen war with various characters and engage in massive battles in order to progress.

There is a tendency to think of Warriors games as just simple hack ‘n’ slash affairs but they are mainly about the characters and their role within large narrative structures,” says Tecmo Koei’s VP of sales and marketing Will Curley.

Only by playing through every character’s storyline can you truly understand each conflict. We never label any particular side as good or bad, right or wrong – we let the players experience the war from all perspectives for themselves and make-up their own minds.

I don’t think Warriors games get enough credit for the way they use the interactive nature of games to explore themes and narratives. But we believe this formula can be as appealing to the broad audience overseas as it is in Japan.”

The next major attempt to educate the uninitiated will be the March 25th launch of Dynasty Warriors 7, which Curley describes as the biggest upgrade the series has ever received” and a testament to how the franchise has progressed.

Obviously the power of consoles has risen massively in the past ten years,” he says. This has allowed the developers to improve the graphical quality, character designs and the amount of content.”

The series’ popularity in Japan and Asia is well known. New game launches become an event and consistently rack up sales of more than one million units.

While it doesn’t quite enjoy the same levels of success in the UK, Tecmo Koei is still pleased with how well the games are received here.

Dynasty Warriors titles have a sell-through of around 80,000 to 100,000 in the UK,” says Curley. This is a sizable market and these fans are passionate about the series. They always want more sequels and expansions. Spin-offs such as Xtreme Legends, Empires and Strikeforce often have an attach rate of up to 60 per cent compared to the main games.

We don’t think of Warriors games as a finite product but as an ongoing franchise with many entry-points and lots of contents for users to discover and enjoy once they have taken the initial plunge.”

A franchise as prolific as Dynasty Warriors is all but guaranteed to maintain its position for much of the next ten years. If Tecmo Koei can truly capture the attention of the West, the series can become just as successful globally as it is in its home market.

The Dynasty Warriors formula has been adapted to suit different settings, genres and platforms, and this will continue in 2011.

March 4th sees the arrival of Warriors: Legends of Troy – a spin-off aimed at Western audiences – while Tecmo Koei is currently working on Samurai Warriors: Chronicles for Nintendo 3DS and a prototype Dynasty Warriors for Sony’s NGP.

We can adapt the gameplay to many different periods of history or licenses,” said VP of sales and marketing Will Curley. Dynasty Warriors is set in the Three Kingdoms period of Ancient China, Warriors: Legends of Troy based on Homer’s Illiad and even Dynasty Warriors: Gundam which is based on a huge anime property.

What these games have in common is that they have periods of war, conflict and social upheaval at their heart.”

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