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Namco Bandai reins in Western development

Publisher cites overseas flops as reason Japan staff will more directly oversee game creation going forward.


In November, Namco Bandai laid off 90 employees within its US base of operations. At the time, the Japanese publisher also indicated that it intended to scale down its development efforts in the West, moving the bulk of work done at its San Jose, California, studio back to its home region.

Splatterhouse's reception could be considered as gruesome as a two-by-four to the back of the head.
Splatterhouse's reception could be considered as gruesome as a two-by-four to the back of the head.

Speaking with Bloomberg this week, Namco Bandai president Shukuo Ishikawa offered more insight into the company's decision to rein in its Western game development activities. And according to the company president, the primary impetus for the move was a growing dissatisfaction with games created overseas.

"We found the quality and development speed of titles made for us by the overseas studios to be lacking," Ishikawa said. "Foreign studios can still propose and develop games, but our Japanese staff will control the process more closely."

Bloomberg specifically called out the sales flop that was Clash of the Titans (which was actually developed by Japanese studio Game Republic). The critically lambasted Clash of the Titans sold 250,000 units through October, a figure that came in far below Namco Bandai's projections of 700,000.

However, Namco Bandai has also been plagued by titles it had a hand in from start to finish. Most recently, the publisher received a weak critical reception for Splatterhouse, a game that gained notoriety after Namco Bandai dumped the game's Western developer, Bottle Rocket Entertainment. Other Western-developed Namco Bandai games included Ninja Theory's well-regarded Enslaved: Journey to the West and Afro Samurai, which spearheaded the publisher's Surge initiative to court gamers outside of Japan.

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