Interview: Bandai Namco on the Witcher 3’s runaway success

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt haspicked up plaudits from critics and its fair share of Game of the Year gongs.

But the title also won the Sales Triumph category at this year’s MCV Awards.We speak to Bandai Namco PR and marketing boss Lee Kirton to find out how CD Projekt RED’s RPG did it.

Congratulations again on your victory with The Witcher 3. What does it mean for you to win this award?
It’s always nice for the studio who created the game to be rewarded for their passion. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has won so many deserved awards that it’s great to win something that is the result of the marketing, PR, community and sales teams efforts. Both [developer] CD Projekt RED and Bandai Namco are extremely happy.

Why do you think The Witcher 3 performed so well?
We have worked with CD Projekt for a long time now with an amazing series of games. Honestly, it’s a truly epic experience with reviews and Game of the Year awards to prove what an achievement in development brilliance it is. The game quality, passion and dedication to the fans of the series, and new fans interested in the universe, have always been the focus.

Before launch, what were your expectations for the game?
They were always high. We all believed in the quality of what CD Projekt was going to deliver. And with all early showings of the game, the teams were incredibly excited about this open universe. We had a very detailed strategy spanning over a number of years and carefully planned campaigns in place to really show off core parts of the game, the wonderful game engine, the engaging story, narrative, music, sound design and overall experience. We supported CD Projekt RED throughout the campaign.

Did The Witcher 3’s performance surpass your expectations?
We had a planned strategy and campaign in place with a lot of market analysis to determine our performance. The reaction of the game from fans has been amazing and I know how happy CD Projekt RED is with the truly amazing number of awards. The team is very humble and truly thrilled at the reaction from the players.

What are your expectations for your other big RPG release, Dark Souls III?
Dark Souls III is exciting and it’s been receiving a lot of praise from media and fans alike who have played it at shows. We have high expectations for the game and we have been working hard to showcase the title.

How would you assess the state of the RPG market in the UK?
Very strong. And with the technology and narrative available on today’s hardware, it’s truly one of the most exciting genres to be in.

How would you evaluate 2015 for Bandai Namco?
We had a very strong year with titles such as Dragon Ball Xenoverse, the Dark Souls franchise, Pac-Man 256, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, and bringing new IPs like Project CARS to the market with stunning results. We had a very strong year overall across all our titles.

Historically, Bandai Namco publishes a lot of Japanese games. Has the success of Western titles like The Witcher and Project CARS changed your strategy at all?
We have strong line-ups each year, and as a company that develops, publishes and distributes titles across many different genres and ages our focus hasn’t changed. We still focus on our key franchises and our blockbuster releases, and give them all the love and passion they deserve. The teams work incredibly hard to achieve some big goals and eventful marketing, PR, events and community efforts.

What are your plans for 2016?
We are still focusing on our key titles, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Dragon Ball Xenoverse, Project CARS, Kung Fu Panda, Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 and so on, and continuing to invest in these titles throughout 2016. Our new financial year starts strongly with Dark Souls III and we have many other exciting titles to come.

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