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4Gamer Interviews Harada and Aoki

Discussion in 'News' started by akai, Sep 2, 2022.

By akai on Sep 2, 2022 at 2:06 PM
  1. akai

    akai Moderator Staff Member Bronze Supporter

    PSN:
    Akai_JC
    XBL:
    Akai JC
    This interview of Harada and Aoki took place in June 2022, published in September 2022. Lots of interesting comments were made in the interview. Here are notes taken from the article. As always, some meaning or context may have been lost in translation or interpreted incorrectly. Please check out the original article on 4Gamer (Japanese, writer Shinichi Yamoto, photos Ohsu Akira).

    Collaboration between Sega and Bandai Namco

    Work and discussion for the Tekken crossover collaboration took place in the fall of 2021. After two long meetings, the development of the DLC went smooth and was completed at a very fast pace. Tekken data is not that different compared to Virtua Fighter. The choices of which character gets what costumes was mostly SEGA's decisions. There was discussion of doing the collaboration using Tekken 3 polygons. I assume like the VF1 models.

    For Harada and Aoki, they share the same feeling on the collaboration between the two IPs: "let's do it, let's do it!" Harada mentioned at the company level, Bandai Namco was a bit more reserved and believed that a collaboration between the two IPs should be on a larger scale. That would take many years to realize. To take advantage of the revival of Virtua Fighter, they decided to collaborate on the smaller scale, and if possible it would be great to collaborate on something bigger in the future.

    Asked about the balancing act between two large companies collaborating, Harada commented IP status--determined mainly by the audience--plays a major role. He mentions 20 years ago, fans of the two series would not allowed it. However, since they missed the opportunity to collaborate during the Dreamcast era, he feels that "If they don't do it now, they won't be able to collaborate."

    "You did well" … "please do more"

    Halfway through the two month free download period, SEGA's expected target number of downloads was met twice over. Initially, they had no plans to release DLC, but with the success they decided to make VF5US an "operating title" (A game that gets continual support, is how I interpreted 運営タイトル).

    Harada said if he was part of the SEGA team, he would put the game on PC. Harada also asked Aoki if his status at SEGA increased with the success of VF5US. Aoki commented that in addition to the "you did well" praise, he also gets "please do more" request, which he is considering various ways to fulfill that request.

    Harada comments how working in a company you can meet/surpass the initial goals and then the goalpost is moved further up. Aoki followed up that people get upset if you don't meet goals, and they get upset if you overly surpassed the goals. Aoki jokingly comments he was only praised for a brief moment (the release of VF5US).

    Offline Tournaments and the Global Community

    The comments in this portion of the interview are very interesting. In my opinion, Harada seems to have a better grasp of the fighting game community needs outside of Japan.

    Aoki was hoping there would be more community-driven tournaments in Europe and United States. There is a lot of excitement in Japan, and he was hoping there would be more momentum in Europe and the United States.

    Harada mentions marketing is more important than game content. For the local community to organize tournaments they might not have the connections to communicate with SEGA or know how to get help.

    Aoki commented on how he would like to do an global eSports similarly to how its done in Japan. It seems that he also has thought of plans for a world VF tournament. He mentions that offline is still the main choice for tournaments, but would like to see communities participate in more online tournaments. Harada mentions online connection is not as good as it is in Japan, and through online there are more ways for people to cheat or abuse the system.

    Harada and Aoki then had a discussion of how playing just online can cause the “タコツボ現象” (Takotsubo Phenomenon). I believe this phrase in context to the online community, is that through online events the game may not get the exposure to people outside of the closed fighting game community.

    The pandemic also hampered the effort of the offline VFeS events. While the Challenge Cup offline finals did not allow public spectators, at least 100 people that includes SEGA staff was able to watch the event in the venue.

    Under 22 and return of older generations of VF Players

    Aoki mentioned the U22 (22 or younger players) had a smaller turnout with mixed reaction to the tournament category. The participation of the younger generation has been a boost to the community though, and he mentions appreciating the older generation of players for teaching them.

    Harada mentioned how in fighting games, physical age is not as detrimental to one's ability to compete compared to real martial arts. Not only is reflex important, but tactics are. An older player with a keen brain can still be competitive at a high level.

    Harada mentioned how some people feel combos worked differently from past versions of the game. Aoki replied that the game's system has not changed from Final Showdown. It is possible that some players stopped playing after certain revisions of past VF5s. As a side note, there are some people discovering/publishing new combos with the release of Ultimate Showdown. When going back to the latest version of Final Showdown, those combos were worked confirmed to work on that version also.

    The author of the article, Yamoto, commented how many younger players found VF's fast pace close combat refreshing compared to current slate of fighting games. Harada mentioned that he explored the idea of introducing ring outs in Tekken 4 or 5. Aoki commented that if he made a new fighting game, the ring out element would be left out. I believe this comment about ring outs was made somewhat as a joke. Aoki in the past, made a poll through twitter about ring outs. He later commented ring outs as an essential part of VF identity.

    Pandemic and Fighting Game Industry

    According to Harada, due to the pandemic online qualifiers were used more often for tournaments. Online environment is not feasible for matches between countries though. Travel cost for foreigners has increased greatly due to the pandemic and the ongoing war. Sponsorship for eSports has decreased the last few years. To adapt to the current situation, Harada wants to do online/offline hybrid events.

    Harada comments that even in Japan, the arcade/amusement center is not the gateway it used to be for fighting games. The natural growth of a community by senior players offering advice at the arcades is somewhat lacking in today's environment. Aoki mentions there is an arcade version of VFeS but the pandemic still makes people hesitant to gather.

    Harada was surprised that the pandemic and especially the war had such a big impact on those in the entertainment industry. Both Aoki and Harada agreed the changes to the fighting game scene was inevitable. The pandemic only hasten the change.

    The dilemma for them is that they can't move forward with a "return to the old form" of an offline-driven community to build the scene. They have to learn how to foster a community through online medias. It used to be TV was the route to convey their passion to everyone. Now it seems users of TikTok and YouTube is a route to build community with the younger generation.

    Based on the current situation, Yamoto asked if game manufacturers consider each other as rivals. Harada repeats the same thing he mentions in past interviews that all Japanese fighting game makers root for each other to succeed. They all hope Capcom's Street Fighter 6 will be successful.

    Harada then made a side comment on Virtua Fighter trending due to commentary system revealed for the Street FIghter 6, saying "if Sega does something new, I have a feeling it will become the majority in five or six years". The original Virtua Fighter 5 game released in 2006 was released with an automatic commentary.

    Future of Virtua Fighter and Tekken

    Harada and Yamoto pressed Aoki about possibility of a new game due to the success of VF5US. Harada repeats again not to waste this opportunity. Aoki commented the success of VF5US lessens the barriers to create a new work.

    Harada commented it did not had to be called "Virtua Fighter". Aoki's response to that was interesting. He said SEGA's perception of IP has changed since the release of VFeS.

    Yamoto then asked Harada about the future of Tekken. Pertaining to Tekken 7 (out for more than 8 years), Harada mentions that in this age of GaaS (Game as a Service) it is less risky to continue support of a game than make a new game. In its first year, sales of Tekken 7 offset the cost of making the game. The remaining years, maintaining the game was relatively low cost, and sales of the game and DLC was good. However, as a creator, Harada has the itch to make a new game.

    Yamoto then asked what Harada wants or expects from Virtua Fighter eSports. Harada wants the game to have better support for tournaments outside of Japan. He also mentions the possibility of doing something together with Aoki as it is beneficial for multiple companies working together in events such as EVO.

    Aoki then makes the comment that an offered was made for him to attend EVO, but he declined. This likely relates to this tweet in late April. His reason for not going was at the time there was no plans for a new game and no new announcements to make. So he did not want to attend with nothing to announce.

    Harada pounced on Aoki that he had nothing to announce at EVO. Then Harada share the same sentiment that he himself can't attend a tournament without people expecting him to announce something. Again this interview happened in June and Harada did tease a new Tekken game and a game update at EVO.

    Lastly, Aoki mentions if he is at an exhibition, it would inevitably be about new works. If he could only talk vaguely about it, it would be better not to participate at all.

    End of the Interview
    ===

    The last part of the article was interesting. Since SEGA will be at the Tokyo Game Show 2022, it does appear we will get some announcement related to Virtua Fighter and that it will not just be an exhibition of the JeSU pro VF players.
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2022
    Dennis0201, beanboy, CFW and 10 others like this.

Comments

Discussion in 'News' started by akai, Sep 2, 2022.

    1. joanot
      joanot
      Love the last part, Harada scolding Aoki for not attending EVO despite being invited:

      ( Deepl/ translated )

      Mr. Aoki: .
       ...... Actually, we had an offer for EVO, but we turned it down this time.

      Mr. Harada: What?
       What?

      Mr. Aoki: We have no plans for a new game, no new announcements.
       We have no plans for new products, no new announcements. We can go to ...... empty-handed.

      Mr. Harada: No, no, no!
       No, no, no, we should appear empty-handed! Let's go to the conference together empty-handed and experience the bashing of "You don't have anything to announce! (laughs). (Laughs.) I can't casually go to the convention because people think, "Well, Harada is here, so there must be some kind of presentation”.
      beanboy, Dreamboat, MarlyJay and 2 others like this.
    2. masterpo
      masterpo
      As always @akai thanx for all the effort to put this together. Its a good read(y)
      beanboy, Tha_FeauchA and akai like this.
    3. Mister
      Mister
      Amazing read. Thanks a lot for the hard work @akai
    4. masterpo
      masterpo
      Lets hope Mid September brings some good news for Virtua Fighter
    5. faster 10 lightning
      faster 10 lightning
      thank you akai, really interesting!

      Of course, let's hope the last part will be an indication about TGS 2022...
      beanboy and akai like this.
    6. ToyDingo
      ToyDingo
      Excellent article. Thank you for posting this.

      I find it interesting that literally everyone in the industry is basically begging Sega to make a new VF, and Sega's response is "Meh...we'll think about it...maybe...". The fact that Aoki seems to have very little understanding of the FGC outside of Japan is heartbreaking, but not surprising.

      Aoki wanting to do a worldwide VF online tournament was admirable. Then Harada having to remind him that the connection around the world is greatly inferior to Japan, and people can easily cheat or abuse the system shows just how much Sega/Aoki know nothing about the gaming community outside of Japan.

      I hope VF gets some good news soon. I trust Aoki, but how hard is it to hire a westerner to whisper in his ear every now and then "Hey, Aoki-san, there are other countries."
    7. beanboy
      beanboy
      Thanks Akai. That is a good read up.
    8. akai
      akai
      I might not have written that portion of the interview clear enough. I believe Aoki was not seeking to do a world online tournament. If anything, I assumed it would like be a combination of online qualifier and offline finals. Similar to the Challenge Cup series.

      What Aoki said in the interview that was very interesting and could be read in many ways:

      When I read that, I thought what prevented him/SEGA of Japan from taking charge in developing "eSports" at the beginning (edit: definitely a failure to recognize global IP or appeal of the brand)? With that stated, that is the past...what is important is what will be done moving forward.
      ToyDingo likes this.
    9. Shinobi
      Shinobi
      Great read, amazing work from Akai!

      Speaking of Harada...

    10. Sonic The Fighters
      Sonic The Fighters
      LOL IT'S HAPPENING !!

      VF6 for the 30th Anniversary in november 2023.

      It almost makes me want to play VF5US again, with its "average" online...
    11. masterpo
    12. SSfox
      SSfox
      I just launched the game yesteday, just to play some 30 minutes practice, forgot how much fun and awesome this game is.

      I got the tentation to go online, but...nah, i know if i do so it will make me hate the game again lol

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