Game Marketing Tips, Analysis, and News

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Japanese Game Marketing

Love the title.
I watched Nintendo's press conference live last night, and it was an interesting experience. It was all in Japanese, so I didn't understand much of what they were saying. At then end of the stage presentation, Nintendo ran a series of commercials, trailers, and interviews for over an hour. (I guess this was their way of getting people to leave the auditorium.) It was an interesting insight into Japanese marketing techniques.

There was a seemingly endless series of cartoons where Gatchaman was busy selling Monster Hunter Tri G. The classic Tatsunoko animation (resembling the worst of Hanna Barbera) was spiced up with 3DS's drawn in, along with a caricature of an American professor (speaking hilariously bad Japanese) and clips from the video game. I tried to imagine if, say, Activision used old Scooby Doo episodes to sell Modern Warfare and included a Japanese caricature speaking broken English... but the film in my head kept breaking. I know that Japanese like kawaii (cute) things, but this was the visual equivalent of fingernails on the blackboard. The Monster Hunter visuals were compelling, but just as I was enjoying those the animation would come back like an annoying sidekick.

I thought that was odd marketing, but then I saw the ad for Loveplus, one of those Japanese dating simulations. This ad featured a couple of young Japanese hipsters and a young Japanese woman playing the dating sim... which featured a Japanese schoolgirl in traditional schoolgirl attire. Very creepy to anyone who's ever watched Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

Then there was the surreal ad for Tekken 3D Prime Edition, featuring a Japanese businessman in his office who gets attacked and defeated by one of the Tekken characters flying through his window... and at the end we find the Japanese businessman was working for Capcom. OK, it was surreal, but bonus points for taking a shot at a rival.

All in all, it was an interesting exercise revealing just how different Japanese culture is from American culture, and how you can't expect marketing messages to transfer between them. You have to create a brand-new marketing campaign for each country; you may even need to change the name of the product. Like Square Enix's new RPG, Bravely Default: Flying Fairy, which would probably find a new title before coming out over here. And many titles, like Loveplus, aren;t even worth the cost of translating them; they're just so far away from what customers would buy that sales would be miniscule.

No comments:

Post a Comment