Bandai Namco Games has changed its name, again, and will now be known as Bandai Namco Entertainment. Why the change? European president and COO Naoki Katashima details the changes.
Why the new name?
Our future vision and business of the Group has more to do with providing Entertainment, rather than just video games. In Japan there's a huge number of companies that work with everything from developing games for all platforms to toys, figurines, anime, music and much more. So for us this is a natural step to evolve into Bandai Namco Entertainment as it will better reflect all areas of our business on a worldwide level.”
What are these other businesses?
In the West we are mostly known for IPs such as Pac-Man, Dark Souls, Tekken, Tales of, Soul Calibur, Ridge Racer and Ace Combat, as well as licensed IPs like Naruto, Dragon Ball and One Piece, to name a few. As a business we have some incredibly strong property usage outside of just gaming. Our Japanese animation licences remain the strongest on a worldwide level and we also have a successful Bandai Namco Amusements business with recent licensed announcements in arcades such as Star Wars Battlepod, which totally sits outside of our traditional business.
We are also well known for our toy and figurine divisions – Bandai and Banpresto respectively – that work with licences such as Pac-Man, Power Rangers, Kamen Rider, Gundam, Yokai Watch, Disney's Big Hero 6 and Ben 10.These are a small selection of companies and areas we operate in outside of traditional video game development, publishing and distribution.”
What does the change mean for UK operations?
The UK office currently in Hammersmith will be moving some time later in 2015, and our group companies in different divisions will share the same new office. We are also expanding our EMEA head office in France. This is a great sign of how strong Bandai Namco Entertainment is showcasing itself as a company for the future.”
How's your line-up for 2015 looking?
We are in a strong position and remain the leading entertainment company in Japan but we still have work to do in the Western market.
In the US and Europe we have recently had some very strong success with the Dark Souls franchise and we hope to continue to focus on this incredible IP. Dark Souls II Scholar Of The First Sin will be arriving on April 2nd and it's delivering everything that Souls fans want but with new improvements: changing up enemy placements, 60 FPS and 1080p visuals and all DLC content. And now it's on PS4 and Xbox One, and there's a PC Direct X11 version, too.
Dragon Ball Xenoverse has shipped over 1.5 million units and in a short time proven to be an absolutely amazing success on a worldwide level in box and digital sales. We will continue to support this important franchise that we have been behind for many years. PC as a platform is something we will be supporting much more going forward and we are already seeing this being successful with games like Dragon Ball Xenoverse. We are extremely lucky to work on some of the biggest anime and manga IPs that have proved to have a strong audience.
"We are Japan's leading entertainment
company, but we still have work to do
in the Western market."
Bandai Namco Entertainment
"Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 on the new consoles and PC will sell well when it comes out later in the year, as will One Piece Pirate Warriors 3, Saint Seiya, Tales of Zestiria, J-Stars Victory VS + and Godzilla.
We have worked hard to strengthen our fanbase and community and we have even more titles to announce in this genre. Alongside our IPs we will also continue to build upon our third-party publishing and distribution with the powerful Project CARS from Slightly Mad Studios in May, The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt from CD Projekt Red in May, Rollercoaster Tycoon World from Atari in the summer, and we continue our great partnership with Codemasters. We also have some undisclosed announcements coming soon, some of which will be revealed at E3.
This year is Pac-Man's 35th anniversary and over the last few years we have been successfully launching Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures on TV worldwide – Disney XD in the UK – and globally licensing the IP across all forms of merchandise and gaming.
We will be hosting a range of Pac-Man related activities to celebrate his 35th landmark. Pac-Man still remains one of our most important IPs as he's our company mascot and we will have new announcements soon. This year also sees the summer release of Pixels from Sony Pictures, which features Pac-Man and Galaga.
Mobile, and free-to-play also remains strong for the business as Tekken Card Tournament continues to be successful on a worldwide level and Ace Combat Infinity serves a strong existing audience whilst generating a new audience in this flight action genre, which we excel in. We have more titles planned in this segment.”
What are the latest developments in your third-party distribution business?
We have great relationships and very strong teams on a global level to be able to provide a complete 360 degree publishing and distribution model. Project CARS for example is a title that Bandai Namco Entertainment publishes alongside Slightly Mad with a huge amount of support put in place over the last couple of years to take this from an incredibly well made racing game to a highly anticipated and highly pre-ordering competitor to games like Forza and Gran Turismo.
The teams are very passionate about making this one of the greatest racing titles that has ever been released. Fans that have been following the title since development and new mainstream car-enthusiasts will be happy at what this game delivers in not only visuals, but simulated realism on the new console hardware.
The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt has for over two years remained one of the most anticipated releases on new-gen and it's already won close to 200 awards. This is a game that will be remembered for many years to come. It is a stunning and mature RPG in a completely believable medieval world that people come to expect from the likes of Grand Theft Auto.
We are also teaming up with Atari to launch Rollercoaster Tycoon World, the sequel to one of the most popular and biggest selling series on PC.
Alongside these core titles we have a strong kids and family business with our own IPs and titles from Little Orbit. A new range of titles in this segment will be announced soon but we have seen some recent successes with How to Train Your Dragon, Monster High and Barbie, and we continue to focus on this area of our business.”