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interview: NIS America president Harusato Akenaga

NIS America is a subsidiary of Nippon Ichi Software of Japan. As such, it's a given that one of the publisher's primary focuses would be Nippon Ichi's own projects. Fortunately, NISA wasn't content with simply being known as "the company that does those Disgaea games" and has done well to publish titles from other developers in addition to its parent company's well-known turn-based strategy RPGs. How publishers decide what is worth their time and effort to localize has always interested me, so when I had a chance to speak with NIS America president Harusato Akenaga at TGS back in September, I took the opportunity to press him on the subject. Here is what he had to say -

What do you find happening more often - developers coming to you to get their titles published in America, or you going to them?

For several years, I went to the licenser. [NIS America was started] five years ago, and for the first two or three years, [that's how it was done]. But after the third year some companies came to me. Now, it's half and half.

What do you usually look at when you're deciding whether or not to decline an offer?

The game. Game sales. How fun it is.

Do you reject a lot of games?

Yeah - maybe two or three out of ten titles, I get the license. We have many offers, but many of them I have to reject. When we started, Gust and Idea Factory licensed their titles to us. Since then, we've kept a good relationship with them. That's why, basically, I don't reject the titles from Gust. But Idea Factory - they have lots of titles, so we cannot do everything. We just get a few titles from them. But other companies - many of the titles I have to reject.

Are there any games that you wish that you had licensed that were taken by other companies?

I can't tell you that... If you write that, many people [will] complain to me...

Are we getting the Disgaea 3 Append Disc?

I'd love to, but we are not sure if SCEA would allow us to do that.

Is there a reason?

I'm not sure. We're gonna try.

Do you think that there would be an audience for the Hayarigami series in the US?

That is a text adventure game and Sony basically declines/rejects those kinds of titles. But, we just announced that we're going to release Disgaea Infinite. It's basically a text adventure game, but we added some systems [to it so] it's not just a text adventure. We're going to try that kind of game in the US market, so if everyone likes that we might try [something else].

NISA is often named as one of the publishers that might possibly bring the Melty Blood fighting game series to the US. Have you ever thought about doing those games?


But you've heard of them, right?

Yeah... It's really important for us to keep our audience happy. Even Prinny - some people didn't like it because it's an action game. Maybe we should stick to the genres [that we're known for] - RPG... Strategy RPG... Not fighting games...

Many are concerned that the problems that you had with Ar tonelico II might keep you from doing the sequel if/when Gust develops it. If Ar tonelico III is made, would you still consider localizing it?

Yes. Basically, I like that game, and many of our fans like that game, but we had some problems [with the] Ar tonelico II localization. We are really sorry for that. But still, we want to get the license for Ar tonelico III. And, we'll be really careful not to make that problem with the next title.

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  • Spinzaku

    I cheer you on for AT3 Mr. Harusato!

  • Joe

    Thanks for posting this nice Interview. I so wish SCEA would allow Text Adventure games to come out. Because I enjoy them and there rarely is any that come out. I hope Disgaea Infinite comes out in North America.

    I never heard about Hayarigami or Melty Blood but they both sound good. I hope some day they come to the US.

    If you do another interview could you ask about what happened to Makai Wars for both the PS3 & PSP. I really wanted to play Makia Wars. So I hope some day it comes out.

  • tommy

    Alright. If I didn’t upset the higher-ups at NISA too much by sitting on this interview for a few months and get another crack at their developers, I’ll come up with some Makai Wars-related questions.

  • deena

    I wonder if this company will ever release any otome games into the US because 13 year olds like me and other teenage girls in the US crave otome games like Duel Love, Ouran High Shool Host Club DS, tokimeki girls side, vampire knight DS, and lots more that escape my mind right now

  • tommy

    The only company that I know of that might actually give otome games a chance in the US is MangaGamer. Unfortunately, it only does games for the PC and iPhone/iPod touch at the moment…

  • brian

    I wonder if neptune (collaboration between gust, sega, nis, and compile heart) will be localized
    do you know when its going to be released in japan?

  • tommy

    It looks like the game comes out on July 29 in Japan. Last I heard, NISA is looking into bringing it over here.