Nintendo of America localisation employee Chris Pranger has spoken at length about the cost of localising what Nintendo of America deem to be niche titles. One of the examples Pranger gives is the brilliant Xenoblade Chronicles which he says was guaranteed never to sell enough in North America to justify the costs of localising the game from English to Japanese which is why there was a lot of hesitation to bring it over. However, it was obvious that Nintendo Europe saw potential in the title as the game arrived there much earlier. Here’s what he had to say.
And they just say the classic “Why do you hate money? Why do you hate money, Nintendo?” (said in droning, “dumb guy” nasally voice)
And it’s like “What are you talking about? We’re trying to make…obviously it has to make calculated risks, but at the same time, one of those risks…and I mean they’ll bring up games that are very Japanese games, like Captain Rainbow for instance. They’ll bring that up like “Look how many people want this. Don’t you want money?”(repeats “dumb guy” nasally voice) And we’ll be like “Yeah, we do want money, which is why we know it’s a colossal waste if we ever try to localize that in this current market, because look at you people. You don’t make up a big enough group.
You look at something like even Xenoblade Chronicles. People love that game, you know, within a certain group. That game is not the type of game that just pulls in enough to justify the costs on that. So that’s like, we got it in the States by luck, that NoE decided “Oh, we’ll take the fall. We’ll localize that.” Okay, cause someone is going to have to eat the costs somewhere, because that game is guaranteed to not sell enough to justify how big that game is. You know, hundreds of hours, all voiced. That’s a lot of money that goes into that.
And people are like “Why do you guys hate money?” (Dumb guy nasally voice) We don’t. That’s why you literally can’t make everything. And people don’t like finding out that their fanbase is actually too small to justify the costs of the thing they want.