Arc System Works (ASW) had a pretty decent presence at GameStart Asia 2019, what with having BBTAG 2.0 and UNICLR’s demos on site. We catch up with Takeshi Yamanaka – producer, manager of the fighting game development department, alongside the overseas business division – and Minoru Kidooka, president/CEO of the company. Zack Tan of the product development division as well as localization specialist, was on hand to translate.
ASW has been working on games based off IPs not of their own, like that of Kill La Kill (KLK) IF. They talk about how working on an original IP – Guilty Gear, BlazBlue, for example – would mean extra burdens, work wise. There’s more required in regards to the creative work, but in exchange, they have greater freedom to express the ideas they want.
On the other hand, working on other people’s IPs means the foundation already exists – characters, “images” – and ASW’s work is to expand on that. As such, there is an expectation for them to ensure their interpretation of the work does not adversely affect what has already been established. There are checks involved, naturally. Kidooka mentions the talks they’ve had with the minds behind KLK, the exchange of ideas being a great learning experience. It’s not just simply taking instructions to follow blindly, but a discussion to see what works better.
Speaking of which, a new Guilty Gear was announced for 2020. The series achieved its 20th anniversary in 2018, with the newest game being considered as a “reboot”. The visuals have seen a departure from the previous games, and we’re told the battle system, mechanics – just about everything – will be revamped, for the series’ 21st year onwards. They’re hoping to get new fans into the series, without neglecting the existing playerbase. No details were revealed today, with news saved for the upcoming trailer(s) and stream. The next one is set for 4 November, so look forward to it!
Incidentally, fans may have noticed Sol Badguy and Ky Kiske having new looks. This also plays into the new Guilty Gear as a reboot. As for their inspiration, well, Daisuke Ishiwatari wasn’t available to give his thoughts. What we do know, however, is that we can expect new looks for everyone!
So then, what about future collaborations with other anime properties? They’ve definitely gotten many of these from companies and the playerbase requesting one or another. There’s Dragon Ball FighterZ (DBFZ), Granblue Fantasy Versus (GBVS), and KLK already, after all. Resources are said to be limited as the company isn’t particularly large, so they’re still deciding how to best approach it. Nevertheless, with feedback and loud enough demand, they can take it into consideration.
Kidooka once again reiterates their main focus of acquiring new markets, as well as getting new players into the fighting game genre. Collaboration with anime properties definitely helps in this aspect, not just for fighting games, saying ASW games in general. “We’re taking great care in all projects we’re involved in,” he tells us.
We move on to esports. After all, DBFZ has its world circuit in the Tenkaichi events, one of which was at Penang Esports Festival, as an example. They want to focus on the world in general, not just Asia. They have their main office in Japan, one in America and one in Seoul, and from there, they can work on gaining a better foothold in each region. Last year’s SEA MAJOR was part of the ARCREVO world tour. SEA MAJOR’s 2019 iteration is at GameStart 2019, which is why Kidooka and Yamanaka are here. They try to be available to see the events in person, to directly interact with the fans and help push the entire community forward.
Moving on, GameStart 2019 released survey results before the event. Role playing games and first-person shooters are favoured in the SEA region, but ASW will be wanting to do what they do best first – 2D fighting games. Of course, they’ll wish players will try their games nevertheless, acknowledging fighting games tend to have a higher barrier of entry. They will definitely try to make their games more approachable to reach a wider audience.
For you fans out there – not just SEA region fans – they see you being very enthusiastic in playing ASW games, in participating in community events and in general. They’re grateful that you’re so passionate, and they can see that when they’re on the stage too. This burning-hot passion is shared around the world, and they’re truly thankful for that. Nodding to those on the fringe, do try out the new Guilty Gear or BlazBlue. They mention once more their hope to create more content for you guys to pick up their games without any hassle, to be new fans. Existing fanbase, keep up that energy!
Fighting games as a concept is easily understood. Just take two players to sit down in front of the screen, pick up the controllers, and no words need to be spoken; no eye contact, no communication, just pure fighting skills. The conversation is through the action in the game, and this is what they feel is “a bridge” for international communication, as though promoting world peace.
Coming back to making other games, the Asia office will be publishing games of different genres, so do pick them up! Zack himself is from Singapore, and the staff have people from other countries, making games together, and the parting hope from this session is to have all cultures be able to enjoy the same game. Let’s keep showing them how much we love Arc System Works’ games, shall we?