Aiming to maximize IP value by strengthening the systems that encourage employees to take on challenges and foster creationYasuo Miyakawa President and Representative Director, BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc.
BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc., which is the business management company for the Digital business in the Entertainment Unit, is working to bolster the IP axis strategy while deepening integration and collaboration with the Toys and Hobby business and within the Entertainment Unit, centered on the network content business and the home video game business. In this section, BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment President Yasuo Miyakawa discusses trends in the Digital business, the Group’s strengths and vision, and other matters.
Would you discuss the current circumstances?
Miyakawa: In FY2020.3, there was an influence from people staying at home due to COVID-19. Repeat sales of home video games recorded substantial growth, centered on overseas markets. In the first half of FY2021.3, results remained favorable, and we made a contribution to the Group’s results. To extend the lifespan of game titles, we have worked to develop titles with a focus on quality and to maintain communication with fans. I believe that our ability to generate favorable repeat sales is a major result of those committed efforts.
What changes in the game market are currently drawing attention?
Miyakawa: In the game market, competition is intensifying each year, and the development of high-quality titles is increasingly important in order to be the choice of users in this setting. With consideration for this point, we will continue to take a thoroughgoing approach in production. Also, around the world, services that leverage online 3D virtual environments, known as the Metaverse, are drawing attention. In the Metaverse, users can enjoy communicating with other users as they enter and leave virtual spaces through their avatar, which represents them. As environments with an exceptionally high degree of freedom, these spaces are not simply extensions of traditional games. They have the potential to be a new form of entertainment. We are advancing preparations to enable us to demonstrate Bandai Namco’s unique strengths in this new field.
What are Bandai Namco’s strengths in the market? Also, how will those strengths be leveraged going forward?
Miyakawa: Under the April 2021 Unit reorganization, the Digital business and the Toys and Hobby business were combined into a single Unit, which can roll out IP from both the digital perspective of games and the tangible perspective of toys and hobby products. This ability is a distinctive strength of Bandai Namco that is not seen in other companies. Bandai Namco’s digital business is a treasure trove of in-house IP, such as PAC-MAN, TEKKEN, and THE IDOLM@STER. By promoting collaboration and integration between two businesses—the Digital business and the Toys and Hobby business—I believe that we will be able to further increase the value of this IP.
Also, to further leverage our strengths, it will be necessary to foster active collaboration with external partners and creators who have ideas and technologies. As an open Bandai Namco, we will work to collect knowledge from inside and outside the Group in order to maximize IP value.
What are the Company’s priorities in regard to addressing changes in the operating environment?
Miyakawa: More than anything else, it is an approach of taking on challenges. At the Bandai Namco Group, employees can repeatedly take on challenges, even if a previous challenge ended in failure. Continuing to take on challenges is essential for success. Accordingly, it is important that we establish a framework to support employees as they take on challenges. Without exception, people who succeed have also failed. It is repeatedly taking on challenges, without fearing failure, that leads to success. From that perspective, I believe that taking on challenges should result in gaining points on a personnel evaluation, not losing them.
Also, compared with the previous circumstances in this industry, the scale of game development has expanded remarkably, including human capital and development costs. Accordingly, we carefully consider content and focus our resources on strictly selected titles. We will have no choice but to streamline the number of titles launched in a year, so there will be a decline in the number of opportunities to take on challenges on an individual basis. I believe that we urgently need to create a system for evaluating the extent to which challenges are taken on as a group, rather than as individuals.
Would you discuss the titles that are recording favorable sales?
Miyakawa: The Tales of ARISE home video game, which is the newest product in the Tales of ... series, was launched in September, and sales are solid. In past, sales were centered on Japan and Asia, but for this product sales in Europe and the Americas are also favorable. User preferences differ by country or region, and accordingly we implemented detailed marketing initiatives in each region. As a result, we were able to obtain the support of users in each region. I believe that this example of marketing success in Europe and the Americas is highly significant.
▲Home video game Tales of ARISE
Tales of Arise™ & ©BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc
Expanding our global share with initiatives aligned with countries and regions A company where employees can work with pride
Would you describe initiatives to expand operations around the world?
Miyakawa: Currently, the entire world is the target market for the Digital business. A major strength of the Bandai Namco Group is that, in addition to Japan, we also have local companies in North America and Europe as well as China and other Asian markets. Local employees, who have the best understanding of their markets, play a central role in the formulation of marketing initiatives. This approach makes possible the roll out of titles that are closely linked to fans, such as Tales of ARISE. Moreover, in addition to the development of titles from Japan, we are also working to further strengthen our system to facilitate the development and roll-out of products from various regions to the global market. One example of that approach is Reflector Entertainment Ltd., a production studio in Canada that develops home video game titles, etc. In the previous fiscal year, we made Reflector Entertainment a subsidiary.
There are high expectations for ELDEN RING, which will be launched in the near future.
Miyakawa: The February 2022 launch is approaching, and production has entered the final stages. At gamescom 2021, one of the largest game events in Europe, we received five awards in the gamescom award 2021 program, including Best of gamescon, the top prize, and Best RPG. Going forward, we will maintain the production process so that we can complete high-quality games that meet the expectations of fans around the world.
▲Home video game ELDEN RING
©BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc. / ©2021 FromSoftware, Inc.
What is the situation in network content?
Miyakawa: We are devoting resources to marketing that leverages data. Based on data that has been collected and analyzed, each title is developed and operated with high levels of quality. In this way, we are successfully extending the lifespan of IP titles, such as DRAGON BALL, ONE PIECE, and THE IDOLM@STER. We are aiming to achieve further growth worldwide by making accurate decisions based on data and working to expand the regions where our products are available.
The Company is also working to introduce new working styles.
Miyakawa: In addition to advancing teleworking, we also introduced ABW* and installed semi-private one-person booth seats, four-person box seats, cafe-type sofa seats, etc. In this way, we have created a floor that promotes open small talk. Employees can move to a seat that is easier for them to work at, and they will be able to work in a better environment. Work can also be done at home, but creative concepts start to arise when people meet and talk face to face. When employees would like to hear some ideas, they can sit in a box seat and engage in small talk while drinking tea. When they want to concentrate by themselves, they can work in a one-person booth seat or at home. ABW reflects the Company’s future working style. We expect this environment to produce the plans and concepts that will support the Company in the next era.
* ABW: A style of working in which work locations and times can be freely selected, without regard to whether it is inside or outside the office.
▲Floor after renovation accompanying the introduction of ABW
What are your policies toward work?
Miyakawa: In work, it is important to have an image of your goals. If someone is just told to “start running,” and they do not know whether it will be a short distance or a long distance, then they will not be able to pace themselves. Accordingly, it is necessary to say “This is our goal.” If we do that, then we can work backward in stages from the goal. We can determine what objectives we need to achieve from our current position, and when we need to achieve them. Subsequently, if we achieve those one at a time, we can reach our goal. My role is to communicate to employees, as much as possible, specific goals. I will do my utmost to see that we are a company in which employees can work with pride as they strive to reach their goals.
This article is an extract from the Newsletter, BANDAI NAMCO News, which was published in November 2021 and partially re-edited.