Recently, Sega has been experiencing worldwide success with two of its major franchises. Both the recent Yakuza and Persona games have had tremendous sales numbers worldwide despite being heavily Japanese thematic games. In the latest Sega Sammy shareholder report, the company details its recent financial results, and gives credit to their localization teams for the success of their games in overseas markets.
No matter if a game is popular in Japan, it is unlikely to win over fans around the world if the localization is insufficient.
In the report, it is mentioned that the overseas sales numbers of the recently released Yakuza 6: The Song of Life had matched the sales numbers in Japan itself despite the fact that it “was not developed with European and U.S. markets in mind.” This is also impressive due to the game releasing worldwide over a year after the initial Japanese release. Success like this could be the reason that Sega has remastered some entries and is rereleasing the rest of the series on the PlayStation 4.
The report also mentions that last year’s hit role playing game Persona 5 had doubled Japanese sales numbers overseas. Persona 5 was the first mainline entry in the hit series since Sega acquired the franchise’s developer and publisher Atlus in 2013. The critically acclaimed game, released worldwide almost 7 months after the Japanese release, had sold over 2 million copies worldwide within its first year.
Sega attributes the success of these titles worldwide due to work and effort of the localization studio that was also picked up in the acquisition of Atlus. The report states that the California-based studio “understands both Japanese and American games very well.” Thus, due to this “is able to localize Japanese games in a way that accurately conveys the unique world views of Japanese titles to local gamers.” The localization team is a major factor in development of games as localization starts even before development is finished.
Sega plans to “strengthen such collaboration further” in an effort to have simultaneous worldwide releases for future titles. Unfortunately for worldwide audiences, they will have to wait for localized releases of Sega’s big upcoming games such as the Yakuza team’s new game Judge Eyes, first revealed at this year’s Tokyo Game Show, and the Persona series spinoff Persona Q2. However, if the recent success of the localization efforts is anything to go by, these games will fair well once in the hands of the worldwide audience.