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Wednesday
Jun152011

ATP's Interview With Harada on TTT2's Availability in the West (Added Full Transcript by TripleLei)

I was very lucky to get the opportunity to interview Katsuhiro Harada and Michael Murray while I was at E3. After hearing the bad news that TTT2 would never reach western arcades, I focused all my questions on this topic. Check out the video below. 

Big thanks to LevelUpYourGame.com and TripleLei for transcribing the interview. 

START OF INTERVIEW

0:00:00.0

ARIS: What’s up everybody? We’re at E3 2011 and my name is Aris representing AvoidingThePuddle.com. I’m here with the two legends. And I’m gonna ask them the hard-hitting questions. You guys are in the hot seat now. So, my first question for you guys is, you’ve said – we’ve asked you several times already after we heard the bad news about not being able to play Tekken Tag 2 in American arcades. And you guys have kind of given very diplomatic answers about the reasons why it’s not possible because of the decline of the arcade culture in America and the difficulty to warrant releasing it in the arcade officially. What I want to know is kind of, will it be possible in any way to play Tekken Tag 2 in this country if someone takes the risk to purchase a cabinet? Because in – at least in Southern California, we have a major arcade called Round 1 that’s based in Japan. And they have –

0:01:03.0

???: [INAUDIBLE]

0:01:03.8

ARIS: They have deep pockets. So I don’t doubt that they would be openly willing to buy four cabinets with their live cabinet. So will it even be feasible – possible – and I don’t mean, like, as far as financially, you know. Will it physically be possible to run this game?

0:03:05.5

TRANSLATOR: He just wanted to clear this up. And often people tell him – [INAUDIBLE], right?

0:03:12.0

ARIS: Yes.

0:03:12.8

TRANSLATOR: People tell him, you know, “Hey, you guys suck, you don’t sell us arcade machines, Namco, blah blah blah.” But, you know, we’re a company. We do want to sell machines. It’s not our fault that arcades aren’t very existent in the US. So, you know, we’re kinda disappointed. But they said they’re disappointed at us for not selling it. We’re disappointed that we can’t sell it in the US because we don’t have enough people to sell it to. That’s one thing he wanted to get off his chest first.

0:05:19.6

TRANSLATOR: So, you could tell how strong he feels about this. In the current state, especially with Tekken Tag 2, it makes a lot of use of Tekken Net which is the network those cabinets throughout Japan, Asia, Oceania, you know. So there’s – So there’s a lot of, you know, you have – people can use their mobile phones to customize their character, see all their stats, [INAUDIBLE], you know, how many  low attacks, mid attacks, [INAUDIBLE] blocked. All that stuff. You can also have ghost characters that migrate from cabinet to cabinet through the network over Tekken Net. And this is something that, you know, [INAUDIBLE] runs as well on this. It all uses the [INAUDIBLE sounds like: on Net] infrastructure. And that’s really expensive to have a server to have all of the services in, but that’s what makes the fun arcade experience that people want to get there. It’s all of those features that make this. So it really is necessary to the gameplay. Now, so, if you were to take that one machine – but he mentioned Round 1 that you said. Round 1would play. But you need that core component of the gameplay. But if you try to put all of that cost of the server that’s necessary for those few components on one machine, several machines, where in Asia it’s done on several hundred, several thousand. So each operator would help split the cost of that so that no one machine is generally expensive. If you do that for just a few machines, that’s just way too expensive. But – and it really is a necessary component of the game. The current Tekken Tag Tournament 2 game.

0:07:02.7

ARIS: Now it – does that mean that that one machine that comes to Round 1 in America, it will be impossible for that machine to piggyback and connect to Japan? Because the Internet’s the Internet. It – Will there be a way? Impossible?

0:09:10.1

TRANSLATOR: That’s quite long, but I know what he’s talking about, so. So – if you remember the Tekken 6 with the cards, we had one card per character. So you could have close to 40 cards. And that was a terrible burden. A lot of people complained about it. So the current system is, you have a [INAUDIBLE] passport. It’s one. And there are no types of really different cards. You know, you can’t find some cards that has this huge volume where you can store all your characters on it. So what we do is you have one that connect, and it goes and it fetches your data from the system. And that feeds everything. It feeds the color of the costume, your customization, everything. For two characters. But, you know, for any of the characters that you might select or have registered all with one card. So that pulls it from the network at that instant. You’re playing against another person, so obviously you’re doing – they’re playing whatever and you come in. They – it needs to react right away. And to do that, it has to be close by. There’s no way that you could do that, go over to Japan and have it – first of all, to be stable, it has to always work because one thing that’s hugely different from the console market is you have people pay – at least in Japan, I don’t know what the current prices in the US – 100. So, like, like a dollar each time you play. If they have to wait or if there’s a system error or something, that’s just not acceptable for paying every time you play. So it has to be right there. And if something did happen to the system, which often – it quite often does, you can’t have people from Japan easily or quickly deal with the problem across the ocean on a different time zone, different continent. You would have to have staff up there specifically for that and/or to the [INAUDIBLE]. So it really isn’t quite as easy as it might seem [INAUDIBLE].

0:11:04.2

ARIS: So I guess on this issue the last question I have is, then, it’s not – at this juncture, because it won’t work the way you guys want it to work, you guys are then not allowing it to work so that it won’t work in a bootlegged way. That’s what I’m I – ‘cause, you know, the problem is, that we, you know, we’re from the community, and if we don’t clear this up, everyone’s gonna hate on it, and I don’t want that. I know you guys are really, like, cool. I’ve talked to you, we’ve high fived you, and we talk shit. You know. So I want – I don’t want the morons out there that don’t understand the way the works to say, “Oh, you know, fuck this.” And they’re hating American arcades. I don’t want that. So I really want it to be clear that, you know, it – the way – the reason why it won’t work. Because I’m afraid of, like, this, you know, a problem, like a backlash or people, like, not liking that. You know, so I want to really – to clarify that you guys want the Tekken Tag Tournament 2 experience in the arcade to be a certain way. And if it’s not that way, you don’t want it to exist. Is that – am I right?

0:15:40.9

TRANSLATOR: He was saying that the reason that Tekken has been around and continued to survive in the arcade, you know – I don’t know if you guys knew that it got top income for five years in a row, right? And it survived. It’s healthy and it’s actually gaining in popularity because of – ever since we started network functions in the arcade. If you go to the Japanese arcade now, although Street Fighter, for example, that’s one close example, it’s very popular in console version. Not arcade. It’s not so much at all. It’s less [INAUDIBLE sounds like: common sales] [INAUDIBLE]. So one of the reasons why Tekken is so popular still is because of these network features. And we noticed that we broadened that to, for example, Korea, we doubled our sales. And that might sound like a corporate thing, but, you know, it’s not. It makes the game more interesting as an experience. So that increases the player pool and that increases the things we can do worldwide. So, for example, if we were to make some kind of offline version that wasn’t originally planned – say it costs 100,000. And that’s cheap. That’s way cheap –

0:16:49.7

ARIS: Just for an example.

0:16:51.4

TRANSLATOR: Say we only sell ten machines. It would have to take $10,000 for me – to operator – for – from an operator for each machine just to even break even. And that’s not good for anybody. And since that is a major part of the whole experience, if you take off network – off, some people might say, “We don’t need the network, network play, or customization, or any of that.” That would take off a huge chunk of experience. And, you know, it might not – it’d be just like it was maybe 10, 15 years ago, and it wouldn’t be an immersing experience. We would have people lose interest in Tekken and do a, you know, choking ourselves. Our whole thing would just die down. Because, you know, if there were some kind of a version, there might be some operator out there that says, “Screw it, I don’t want to pay for the network, so I’ll have the offline one.” Or the players might want to play the offline. But – so then Tekken would just, you know, go in a downward spiral. So it’s not whether we want to sell it or not, it’s – this all links together.

0:17:55.1

ARIS: That’s actually a very understandable – I understand the logic.

0:19:18.6

TRANSLATOR: He said it’s not even just about Tekken. The reason why you don’t arcades in the US is because you don’t have – you need an arcade, you need not only Tekken, you need other games in there too to keep people interested. So you’d have those people come in to play those games, they pay for it, the operator makes more, hence you have a new arcade scene. Well, that just didn’t work out in the US. And he thinks that one of the reasons for that is because in Japan, Tekken is one – one play’s usually a dollar. And it Asia, it used to be, you know, 20 cents or something. But even in Asia and other countries outside of Japan, they started to raise their prices. But even so, they still have an experience that people are willing to pay that [INAUDIBLE sounds like: comp] for, so the arcades are still vibrant. Where in the US, they only charged 25 cents back in the day, and they would say, “To maintain that, we are not gonna buy any expensive games. Please make cheap games.” And then, you know, cheap doesn’t necessarily mean fun or interesting. So that’s how the business model went here, and to do that. And then people just said, “Well all right, I don’t know want to pay anything. I want to play on a PC or console. And so that kind of ruined American arcades, you know. So in Japan, I mean, we get $1 and one play. But we provide the very, you know, that experience that rivals that. And so it’s not priced high at all. And other countries in Asia are starting to realize that. And they’ve kept up with pricing and they’ve kept their customer base, and arcades are happy, players are happy, everyone is happy. We’re just, you know, it’s unfortunate that didn’t work out for the US, too.

0:21:42.1

TRANSLATOR: So, maybe just because, you know, you guys have not had arcades for so long – I say “you guys” just because I’ve been in Japan for most of my adult life, so I’m not familiar with the arcade scene here as much. But it’s kinda hard to imagine it. It’s not like the console where you’re on a direct one-to-one basis with you guys, our fans. There’s – in the arcade, there’s an operator. The owner, or the arcade owner in between. So they’ve gotta pay for location, building, machines that they buy. And they have to make a profit to live, pay their rent, whatever they need to do. So it’s not like the players say, “We want this.” So we say, “Here you go.” You know. The people in the middle, you know, have to –

0:22:23.3

ARIS: [INAUDIBLE]

0:22:24.0

TRANSLATOR: You have be confident that they can make a living off of it before they’re gonna be willing to make that investment. So it’s quite different than, you know, the console versions [INAUDIBLE]. So for the console, you know, we hear you guys.

0:22:35.5

ARIS: I hear you.

0:22:36.6

TRANSLATOR: It is – we put it in console. It’s much easier than it is for the arcades here.

0:22:42.1

ARIS: I guess my last question is, since we’ve pretty much confirmed what country it won’t –

0:22:48.6

TRANSLATOR: No –

0:22:49.0

[LAUGHTER]

0:22:49.4

ARIS: I know – [LAUGHTER] Don’t get nervous, man.

0:22:54.6

[INAUDIBLE]

0:22:56.3

ARIS: This is, like, the most unprofessional interview of all time. No – look – since we know that it won’t work now for sure in the US, what countries will it work in? We know that in the Philippines, they have several arcades. Taiwan, China, whatever.

0:23:40.5

TRANSLATOR: Well, you know, obviously, it started with Japan. We had Korea for Tekken 6. We’ve been doing some tests with China. Looks like we’re probably gonna do it there. Taiwan. Then also, of course, Philippines. One of our biggest markets. And then more recently, we’re thinking of doing Singapore and Australia. It’s called the “Oceanic region.” So those are some of the new regions that we’ve been doing some server testing in. At least I – might work out for those areas.

0:24:34.0

TRANSLATOR: And he was saying, you know, so we’ve broadened that out to those regions. We just mentioned some of them are – will be the first time for Tekken Tag Tournament 2. It’s not that we want to do – we don’t want to do that for the US. We just can’t do it for one machine or five machines. Their habits – [INAUDIBLE]. But specific for each region, that’s the numbers that they’re saying. So if the States, if – I don’t know if it’s Round 1 or if there’s anyone that if they’re willing to come together and get those kind of numbers – I’m already working on an English version, so it won’t be that hard.

0:25:16.2

TRANSLATOR: So it’s not like it’s zero. You know, if they want to buy the number of machines that it takes to have a server, then, you know, we would love for them –

0:25:25.1

ARIS: What is that number? I don’t need a specific number, but –

0:26:04.2

TRANSLATOR: So it’s kinda hard to say –

0:26:06.8

TRANSLATOR: It’s kinda hard to say concrete.

0:26:09.5

ARIS: Of course.

0:26:09.9

TRANSLATOR: It kinda depends. But just as an image, since the States is so huge – say we’re gonna – just talking to the West Coast area. 100 to 200. And we’ve never had that much interest so far. Coming from sales. And I researched this once when we were looking at this about the machines that were bought from the importer. And just outside of us, another – [INAUDIBLE sounds like: if a – collect] – seems like, you know, people are posting, “I have a machine in Hawaii” or whatever. The one I saw was about 40-something. So, I don’t know. We’ve never had numbers of 100 or 200. So –

0:26:47.2

ARIS: Very interesting.

0:26:48.3

TRANSLATOR: If – hey, somebody has connections with different stores around that area, they say, “Hey, we could get together for those numbers,” we would love to make it happen, so, you know, it’s not like it’s zero. If you guys are out there and you have connections, then maybe.

0:27:03.2

ARIS: Well –

0:27:03.7

TRANSLATOR: So you can get him – go with Round 1. [LAUGHTER] [INAUDIBLE]

0:27:29.3

TRANSLATOR: In – this is something I’ve asked for for a long time. It’s something that I’ve probably told you earlier. Harada-san’s really – he’s into this. Even if we have to make a location ourselves. Like, Namco – that we operate directly not for profit or anything. We just – to come up with some kind of – some – you know. We would love to do that. And that’s how much we’re actually [INAUDIBLE]. We are even seriously contemplating maybe an arcade or two for Tekken. Just to have the game here. So, you know, we really are thinking about this. We want to find some kind of way to make it work, you know.

0:28:22.7

TRANSLATOR: But it’s not something we can control, you know. If people are in the States are like, you know, “We’re fine with paying 60 bucks for a console version, playing, [INAUDIBLE sounds like: maybe not] as much. We don’t need an arcade.” Then there’s nothing we can do about it. If there’s interest there, there’s always a possibility, so.

0:28:39.1

ARIS: I know we have – we’re very limited on time, and this is supposed to be a professional business situation, so they’re eyeballing me and stuff, but – [LAUGHTER] I just wanna let you guys know that America wants to play Tekken, and many people want to play Tekken. So I know you guys care. And, you know, whatever methods you guys have to make that possible. I personally care about a competitive level. If at any way you can make that possible, whether it be, you know, somehow bringing it to arcades or maybe an earlier version on console that – I don’t know what you guys could do. You guys are the pros. I’m not a marketing expert. But America wants to play Tekken. And we want to play it the way we play Street Fighter 4. There’s a huge market for Street Fighter, and we want to do that for Tekken too, so. I know you guys care, I know you guys do this thing, and I think that’s my time, so I really appreciate you guys answering those questions.

0:29:40.6

TRANSLATOR: One other thing that you guys might not know. They’re taking orders and trying to produce some of these machines to sell in Japan, but just to get you guys that opportunity to play, we’ve had to divert some of those shipments to [INAUDIBLE sounds like: VGA], so they have several – not just the ones here, but several. We’ve – you know, we’ve diverted to them. So we’ll have some chance to [INAUDIBLE]

0:30:02.4

ARIS: Great.

0:30:02.8

TRANSLATOR: It’s not just now, but – [INAUDIBLE]

0:30:05.3

ARIS: Great.

0:30:07.4

TRANSLATOR: And we’re – the movie itself is gonna be in the US first. So. [INAUDIBLE]

0:30:12.5

ARIS: Can I play it competitively?

0:30:13.9

[LAUGHTER]

0:30:15.3

TRANSLATOR: You can’t. You can watch it.

0:30:16.3

ARIS: Oh.

0:30:17.1

???: Wow.

0:30:17.6

???: You can watch it.

0:30:18.2

???: I’m gonna beat you, dude.

0:30:19.6

ARIS: Thank you, guys, so much. I appreciate your time, you know.

0:30:22.3

TRANSLATOR: Thanks.

0:30:22.6

HARADA: Thank you.

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Reader Comments (24)

Thanks Aris thank you sir for the heads up around the corner! I guess US will have to watch Youtube to see the discoveries other countries make in TAG2 til we get the game...sigh. Dam that's just one of the exciting times new Tekken new shit to find /figure out....sigh

Friday, June 17, 2011 at 12:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterRagingNetsuSoda

Despite wanting to play TTT2 fucking badly, I'm really not all too worried or bothered for two reasons.
1) I imagine that this arcade version of TTT2 was designed as a niche release for the communities which already have the sort of hype that would facilitate the purchase of so and so many machines in order to retain hype as well as to generate a profit-- they are a business, as they said; their dinner depends on their success through sales. For all of you that are so entirely full of grief about not immediately getting TTT2 either in arcade or console format, I implore you to remain patient and keep your attention on the console version of Tekken 6BR; I'm pretty sure that the majority of you haven't mastered the game, yet, anyway; I know I haven't. We should mind that the amount of information that Harada and Namco are sharing with us really does breed impatience and disinterest with the current product-- rather, lets not act like spoiled brats.

2) I view Streetfighter X. Tekken and the Tekken Tag HD bundle releases as marketing motions, or as primer for a future TTT2 console release. When Harada's Twitter fans ask him about Tekken Tag 2, Tekken X Streetfighter or Tekken 9: Rebellious Resurrection, he suggests that they instead keep an eye out for Streetfighter X Tekken, first. He wouldn't say such unless he had personal investments in the game; more, Namco wouldn't have given the go-ahead for the Tekken Tag HD bundle release unless the business model aimed to promote the bigger, much more expensive product that is Tekken Tag 2. So, through melding the Tekken and StreetFighter communities and then giving them Tekken Tag HD to play with, I imagine that Namco, Harada and even Ono are aim to generate American hype for future Tekken and Street Fighter console releases, as such are what American consumers are into, and could make for big profits. (Given proper marketing through advertisement, hype generation and well planned art direction, anyway)

Friday, June 17, 2011 at 10:25 PM | Unregistered Commenterdeathbybears

Hmm New Zealand is considered to be part of Oceania, right? ... RIGHT? haha.

Saturday, June 18, 2011 at 4:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterDevil Kazuya

Fuck it. They should have just gone worldwide console and skiped the cabnet. I goto my local arcade to meet/play local players and do it on THE ARCADE OWNERS PS3/XBOX. Yeah its legal. Fuck the Tekken Net and that lame ass customization crap. "Oh, I unlocked so and so's hidden outfit!!" Yeah??? FUCK YOU!

Sunday, June 19, 2011 at 7:26 PM | Unregistered Commenter5 million copies sold

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