October 16, 2007 8:02 AM | Simon Carless
Though just a tad on the imprecise side, I really enjoyed reading Jess Ragan's recent 1UP feature, 'Filling A Niche: Swimming Against The Current Of The Mainstream', an in-depth article that tried to explain how targeting specific submarkets and pockets of gaming is a good idea in today's increasingly fragmented society.
Skipping over some of the overly broad characterizations (I'm not really sure why THQ could be described as 'niche' just because it started with licensed games, for example), there is one particularly good section which deals with prices for licensing import titles:
"Gail Salamanca from Aksys Games tells us that a relatively low-budget title from Japan, like Sky Gunner or Guilty Gear XX Accent Core for PS2 can cost anywhere from $300,000 to $500,000 to license, but that's if the game first passes concept approval at Sony, for example. Prices for games like R-Type Final or Bumpy Trot can escalate if a bidding war erupts between smaller publishers scrambling to scoop up whatever scraps a larger publisher like Ubi Soft (Enchanted Arms) or Midway (Shadow Hearts) leaves behind."
And further goodness: "Salamanca says "Midway when they picked up Shadow Hearts, it was a decent RPG, but they probably paid a ton of money for it and only sold 70-100k. A localized game probably wouldn't cover their overhead, let alone make them a profit. Whereas if we sold 70-100k, for a smaller publisher like ourselves we would be like "Woo-hoo!" assuming we didn't pay overly much for the game." Salamanca told us that for an average $50 game that requires localization and voice talent, of which 50,000 pieces are manufactured, the typical investment is a million dollars or more, depending on the quality of the packaging, manual and marketing efforts. A lot of money for a smaller publisher, for sure, and picking up a game, even in market saturated with 40 million PS2s, it's a gamble every time." It's very rare to get specific figures like this - so thanks to 1UP for digging these up.