Established in 2009, our studio in Tokyo delivers support around the full game development cycle for our clients.
With a team of 300+ passionate and skilled specialists from 20 nationalities working in various disciplines across all major gaming platforms, we have dedicated onsite client teams for seamless integration and continuity.
Recently we spoke with two of our Tokyo-based business development managers, Kazuhiko Nakanishi and Keiji Fujita, to gain an insight into working in the studio. Both have a wealth of experience in the video games industry.
Here’s what they had to say:
Describe your role. What does a typical day at work involve?
“Mainly, I support and propose solutions to clients that are in need of global expansions. Since the onset of COVID-19, most meetings with clients online but, if they want to meet in person, I don’t hesitate to visit them directly.”
“I am responsible for the business development and sales growth at Keywords Studios in Tokyo, Japan.”
What do you like best about working for Keywords Studios?
“I like being able to help junior game creators and developers succeed.”
“What I like best about working for Keywords Studios is doing business with friends in the video gaming industry.”
How did you get into video games? What inspired your career path?
“It all started when I established Chunsoft in 1984 with my college friend, Koichi Nakamura, one of the most influential creators of the video gaming history, and three more friends.
“I have tried several times to sell my games overseas but it was very difficult, even if the title was successful in Japan.
“When the internet became a common tool, we made a merged company to localize Korean online games for the Japanese market but we closed it after less than three years.
“I found it very difficult to sell Japanese games across borders and this is one of the reasons I chose my current job, to make it easier for junior game creators to have an opportunity to sell overseas.”
“Initially, I was contracted by Taito to be responsible for all aspects of the development of mobile video games as a liaison between Taito and local video game developers in Singapore when I was a self-employed in Singapore.
“Taito asked me to work as a producer of mobile video games when I relocated from Singapore to Japan. That is how I stepped into the video gaming industry.”
What, in your opinion, are the key considerations for publishers and developers when hiring an external services vendor such as Keywords?
“I believe that the service vendor representatives should have a variety of experience in the gaming industry and are trustworthy.”
“In my opinion, customer satisfaction (quality service), cost-effectiveness and productivity are key considerations for publishers and developers when hiring an external service vendor such as Keywords.”
What, in your opinion, are the key inputs for a successful client-vendor partnership?
“To respect the client and put yourself in the client’s shoes. You have to understand what the client is thinking and, in order to do that, you have to communicate effectively with the client.”
“In my opinion, understanding the needs of customers from their perspective is the key input for a successful client-vendor partnership.”
What are you most excited for in 2021?
“This is my fourth year with Keywords and I’m looking forward to making ourselves more known to additional clients and developers in Japan and East Asia.”
“I am most excited for in 2021 is the eradication of COVID-19!”
What is your favourite video game and why?
“Since it’s hard to narrow it down to one, I’ll choose three that I was involved in the development of and three that I was not.
Involved in development
- Dragon Quest I-V One of the most famous games franchises to come out of Japan. I think every one of my generation is aware of these games, even those who may never have played them.
- Kamaitachi no Yoru I personally research the mystery writers and the pensions that the scenes were based on.
- Pokémon Mystery Dungeon We made the game system that we developed available to people around the world using the Pokémon characters.
Not involved in development
- Space Invaders It was the first video game that was published when I was in the third grade of junior high school. Used to play it on the way home from school and I wouldn’t be in this industry if this game didn’t exist.
- Libble Rabble A ground-breaking two-handed game first released in 1983. I spent most of my earnings on it.
- Tekuteku Life A Location-based game that I’m really into right now.”
“My favourite video game is Dragon Quest because it is the very first role-playing game that I played in my life.”
Tell us an interesting fact that people may not know about you.
“When I was a college student, five of my classmates and I founded Chunsoft. In the company’s third year, we were in charge of the development of Dragon Quest (Dragon Warrior in North America), which was released by Enix (now Square Enix).
“In my late 20s I worked as a publisher, selling the sound novel series and the Mystery Dungeon series. I created a new sales and public relations department to handle non-developmental tasks and was able to contribute to increased sales and profits compared to my time as a developer.
“In my 30s, I took my family to Seattle to set up a subsidiary to translate the previous title of Torneko: The Last Hope (Not sold in North America) – which sold more than one million copies in Japan – into English and expand into North America. Though I couldn’t establish the subsidiary and came back to Japan after a months, this experience is one of the reasons I chose this job.
“In my 40s, I developed the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series, a collaboration between Pokémon characters and the Mystery Dungeon system we developed, and I was in charge of the business side of the game.
“I was very happy that the game was able to be played by many children in North America and Europe as well as in Japan.
“As you can see, I started my career in the game industry in development, then moved on to sales, advertising, public relations, publishing, licensing and alliances.
“I am indebted to many people in the industry for their support. I want to give back what I can to the game industry for the rest of my life.”
“When I worked at Square Enix and Taito, I was a producer for many overseas mobile releases.
“Some included Arkanoid, Bubble Bobble, Bust-a-Move, Chase H.Q. 3D, Cooking Mama, Elevator Action, Elevator Action 3D, Jungle Hunt, Psychic Force, Qix, Rainbow Islands, Ray Storm, Space Invaders, The Legend of Kage, Volfied and Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim.
“I am also known as the former producer of the English version of Aniplex’s Fate/Grand Order when I worked at Delightworks.”
And finally what advice would you give to job seekers considering a career in video games?
“Being involved in games mean you have to entertain people. So to be successful, you need to know a lot of fun things. Experience many fun, exciting things as much as you can.”
“My advice to job seekers considering a career in video games is to study about the industrial history of video games and respect pioneering game creators.”
For more information on how Keywords can help you localize your video games for Japanese players, download our Keywords Studios in Tokyo solutions brief.