Bandai Namco’s European CEO has promised “Elden Ring is just the beginning” of bringing more Japanese games to the west, as well as original IPs.
Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz during Gamescom, CEO Arnaud Muller discussed recent successes for Bandai Namco, particularly Elden Ring. “It’s a global success but it is not [our] first global success,” Muller boasted, highlighting the Tekken series and others.
“We’re extremely proud of Elden Ring and the latest numbers – 16.5 million sales in quite a short period of time. We’re very proud of the quality of the game, we’re very happy with the relationship with FromSoftware,” Muller beamed.
“We worked with FromSoftware on the Dark Souls series, but Elden Ring is taking this genre to a new level,” Muller explained. “The open world, the accessibility of the game, the depth, it clearly has surpassed our expectations and also fans’ expectations. It’s a great success.”
“I think we anticipated that the game was going to be a very high quality game but the fact that it touched such a large audience is extremely pleasing and we’re very happy.” Muller added how Bandai Namco helped bring Elden Ring to a wider audience, considering FromSoftware’s reputation for extremely challenging gameplay.
“Dark Souls has always been perceived as a difficult [series] and Elden Ring is a difficult game but I think with the work we’ve done to explain properly to our fans the way they could discover this adventure, this new game has touched a larger audience and has made it more accessible,” Mullet proposes. “It’s a combination of the type of game it is and the positioning of it. And I think it worked very well.”
As GamesIndustry.biz mentioned their prior editorial on Bandai Namco “cracking the west” via the European market, Muller stated Bandai Namco Europe was pushing for a greater presence in the west. Nonetheless, he reportedly wished to show the company progress via their whole portfolio, rather than championing only Elden Ring.
Muller discussed the upcoming One Piece Odyssey and Park Beyond, from Limbic.”It’s a German studio, it’s an IP creation initiative from Europe that is going to target primary Western consumers, but also Japanese consumers – it’s a global game. And then next to it, we have The Devil in Me which is a game we’re doing with Supermassive.”
“So that’s the portfolio of Bandai Namco: a combination of games coming from Japan, some of them global successes, some of them probably less global. And then you have our own titles from Europe,” Muller detailed. Muller then discussed Supermassive being acquired by Nordisk, and “very happy” with their partnership and good for both them and Bandai Namco, along with IP acquisitions being ” something that we work on.”
Focusing on Bandai Namco Europe’s catalog, Muller argued the company had met its own quota for 50% of its works to be from original IP creations. “50% is an interesting number because it means we need to source 50% of our own content in the West. Some of it comes from distribution, some of it comes from publishing in Europe, some of it comes from IP creation.
“Our objective is to significantly increase the part of the IP creation within that Western portfolio. The rest, coming from Japan, is secured through our mother company in Japan. So within that 50% of the content we secure, we have a number of distribution deals that we have secured with some of our partners,” Muller reasoned.
These distribution deals include Square Enix and EA in some countries, as Muller notes, along with smaller companies such as Outright Games and Supermassive. “And then the rest comes from the IP creation initiatives – that’s where you have Park Beyond, Little Nightmares, and so on.” So the 50% magic number is actually something that has always been here and is already here depending on which side you’re looking at.”
“Of course, with the success of Elden Ring, the weight of games coming from Japan is greater but then the following year you do a distribution deal with a game like Cyberpunk and then you’re already over the 50%,” Muller hypothesized.
“The question is how much within that 50% you have coming from IP creation, from your own IPs. And it’s that part that we’re growing but the timing of development we’re talking [is] three to five years depending on which game. So we’re coming now to a point where some of our initiatives are bearing fruits.” These initiatives include Little Nightmares, Park Beyond, and games from Montreal studio Reflector.
“There are more games that are coming, which have not yet been announced, but that will form part of that IP creation pot within the 50% coming from the West,” Muller insisted.
After explaining Bandai Namco has always been platform agnostic (when asked about the company’s position on the Microsoft/Activision-Blizzard acquisition), Muller concluded on what Western fans could look forward to from Bandai Namco Europe.
“Bandai Namco Europe is focused on developing its own IPs and increasing the weight of the portfolio in the West within the Bandai Namco Group, but there is so much great content coming from Japan that we’re very excited for the years to come, and Elden Ring, I’m tempted to say, is just the beginning of that.”