Western games are getting increasingly popular in Japan. But they're still a small slice of the pie. Just ask ZeniMax Asia's Tetsu Takahashi.
ZeniMax Media, of course, owns American developers id Software (Doom) and Bethesda Softworks (The Elder Scrolls) as well as new Japanese studio, Tango Gameworks, with Shinji Mikami (above).
Mikami, best known for creating Resident Evil and wearing trucker hats, is spearheading Tango Gameworks; he and his staff are hard at work on a new title, and Takahashi thinks they'll only outsell games like Skyrim and Fallout 3 in Japan, but release a smash hit.
Tango is using an existing engine for its first game; however, it is a heavily customised version to suit its needs. Mikami is assembling a core team to work on the new title. From what Japanese industry insiders have told me, Mikami is brilliant at motivating his staff and conveying his vision. He also looks nice in plaid.
According to Takahashi, Skyrim, which sold extremely well abroad, *only* sold between 200,000 and 300,000 copies in Japan. However, those numbers are better than past Western game successes. For Takahashi, he thinks Tango's debut game can sell between 500,000 and a million copies in Japan.
Mikami, who liked Skyrim very much, has recognition among Japanese gamers. What's more, he can back that up with a strong track record. While his last two titles, Vanquish and Shadows of the Damned, were met with tepid sales in Japan, a new title with a big international publisher like ZeniMax could definitely change that.