Over the weekend we ran an article on how Microsoft can keep their head above water in the ever-shrinking Japanese console market. In that, we talked about their need to develop and maintain strong relationships with Japanese developers, do their research on current gaming trends and then localize those studios’ works for Western audiences. Well, it would seem that the gaming gods heard us, and have given us a potential sneak peek into one of those aforementioned works.
Psycho-Pass is definitely going to be one of the Xbox One’s biggest exclusives in Japan. Considering the series’ success in the anime realm, it would only seem plausible to think that the visual novel based on the show will indeed move some units in the Land of the Rising Sun. (Probably not big numbers, mind you, but we foresee it at least breaking the sales chart top 50, and maybe even the top 25 — a feat that the other XBO exclusive visual novel, Chaos;Child, could not pull off this past week.) Certainly, there is a growing market for visual novels here in the West. Just look at Steam if you don’t believe. More and more are being localized, and more and more are going no to sell in the reputable digits. Better yet, they’re just awesome games, and have mostly flown under the radar here in the States for decades. So, with their rise to popularity, it would be wise for Microsoft to jump on the bandwagon, even if it’s still a niche one.
It seems that’s what’s happening with Psycho-Pass. Mages. and 5pb, longtime supporters of the Xbox brand in Japan, just opened a new website today for Psycho-Pass. Interestingly enough, however, the site includes a version that’s all in English. (A screen capture of the site’s main page can be seen above.) The game’s title has even received the new translated subtitle of “Mandatory Happiness.” This feels like a pretty clear indication of a localization for English audiences, despite the lack of an official announcement or confirmation.
But this would seem congruent with what Phil Spencer said right before Tokyo Game Show this year (something we talked about back in August), when he said that the upcoming Japanese Xbox One titles would all be receiving localizations. At the time, we weren’t sure which titles he was talking about; but it would seem, with Psycho-Pass’ growing fandom, both in the East and North America, that it may very well be part of that localization compilation of sorts. The new website is comprised of an overview of the game’s story and write-ups on all the main characters — even three that aren’t in the show, and were created specifically for the game.
For the uninitiated, Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness is being developed by Division 8 — a team within Mages led by Makoto Asada, a prominent supporter of the Xbox 360 and now Xbox One in Japan. Those in the shmup scene will immediately recognize his name due to his high-profile resume and history with developer CAVE, which includes works such as Espgaluda, Mushihimesama, Deathsmiles and the criminally underrated Xbox 360 exclusive Instant Brain.
Psycho-Pass’ appearance, and potential localization, could be just the start of a larger trend with Microsoft’s newest baby. Last generation, the 360 became a sort of niche of a niche console in Japan, and even for those worldwide who love Japanese gaming, due to the exorbitant amount of shmups and visual novels that showed up on it. With Chaos;Child, Psycho-Pass and the to-be-revealed Mystereet F, in addition to Qute, Moss, and Triangle Service’s shooters, the Xbox One could, yet again, become that super hardcore, almost Otaku-like console. While that sect of gamers will not decide the “console war,” they no-doubt will have an impact on it all the same. Thus, Microsoft landing this deal could help them capture an audience they aren’t serving right now; and that’s what they need to be doing anyway.
Nevertheless, we expect to hear more news on this within the next handful of hours, as Mages. and 5pb. are scheduled to talk further on their projects at Comiket in Tokyo today. So check back for more details over the next day or so to get the lowdown.