Trying to reach an International audience with your game can be hard at the best of times, but the differences between the Japanese and Western markets can sometimes be like night and day, making something as simple as marketing the game a challenge.
Our friends over at AppsJP help to bridge the gap between a predominantly Western focused App Store and the Japanese gaming community and they recently managed to sit down with Bow Moblie to discuss their release of Double Dragon.
A translated snippet of the interview follows, but of note is the focus that the company has on reaching that Western audience and seemingly falling short of the mark despite making changes that really add to the experience. It's clear that Bow Mobile is still learning, but focusing on community support through much needed updates (or rather, requested updates) goes a long way to reward early adopters while making their game more enticing for future customers.
AppsJP : Could you tell us your brief profile please? Who you are, name, age...etc. If you run a company, number of employees, the location of office and so on.
Bow Mobile (BM) : Bow Mobile is a small company in Tokyo with 5 employees. Most of our employees are 30's and know enough about iOS programming.
AppsJP : Double Dragon (DD) is your debut app in this market. And, how come did you chose DD as your first app to hit AppStore?
BM : The reason why we chose Double Dragon as our first title is: we really wanted to bring old-school game for iPhone users. We believed in the potential of the markets, 160 million users! And, we haven't seen much of hardcore beat'em up games on iPhone market except for a few big brand games. We wanted to publish something brand new as Double Dragon. We have a good relationship with the license holder of Double Dragon. So, the license wasn't a big issue.
AppsJP : Is there going to be a major update we can expect in the near future?
BM : We can't disclose the details yet, but yes, we are working on it right now. Please expect DD updates in the near future.
AppsJP : I heard iPhone version of DD is based on Zeebo DD. If that's the case, is there any modification or revamp on iPhone version? Is iPhone DD different from Zeebo DD?
BM : We borrowed a lot of parts from Zeebo DD. However, we needed to optimize it for iDevice. We changed the character design, level design, combo system and control system. We did so in order to offer 100% satisfaction to iDevice users, after all.
AppsJP : If my research is correct, DD had hit the Top 10 in Hong Kong and that was the highest rank so far. DD has been selling quite well in Spain and Italy. Nevertheless, it doesn't sell as much as its brand name in English speaking territories such as US, UK, CA and AU. What do you thin why?
BM : I think we need to put more effort into promotion while we update this app to become better. We need to shout out louder in western media, I guess.
AppsJP : I played DD for quite some time. Virtual D-Pad isn't sexy at all. It occupied almost 1/3 of touchscreen. Don't you have any plan to make it better looking or slick looking just like that of Street Fighter?
BM : Our first concept was to be loyal to the original. If we didn't divide the game part and control part, there could be a chance for players to hide all the characters by their own hands and fingers. That was the reason why we implemented this system in the first place. As a result, we received a whole lot of different opinions as to this issue. We will respond in future updates. That's for sure.
AppsJP : Speaking of Virtual D-Pad, I was having a really hard time doing combo attacks. Inputting the right command required a real tight control. I know I'm not that great player after all; however, don't you think it needs to be improved if you want to appeal to the younger generation?
BM : As you pointed out, we are planning to polish up the control system. It all depends on how you adjust to the control system, but still we need to reconsider if the users say so.
AppsJP : It's not that easy for a Japanese company when it comes to dealing with foreign users. You mentioned that DD was developed mainly for English speaking global users. What was the hardest part in this regard? Or, did you take any magic/trick in this regard?
BM : Well, as far as DD is concerned, we decided to focus on the market outside of Japan in the first place. Therefore, we redesigned the characters to be more appealing to western users. Also, we are running Twitter/Facebook account only in English.
AppsJP : What's going to come after DD? Any plan on other apps for iDevice?
BM : First of all, we have to update DD. That's a priority issue for us. After we hear enough users voices, we hope to develop a new app that reflects users opinions.