A new company has emerged from the shadow of the North American publishing arm of Atlus. Called Aksys Games, the company was forged by former Atlus USA project and business development manager Akibo Shieh, and by all accounts so far looks to carry on with Atlus’ tradition of localizing titles that might not have otherwise been seen by audiences outside of Japan. Recently the company confirmed that it will for its debut offering localize Telenet Japan’s Enjoy Golf! under the new title of Eagle Eye Golf with the help of Japanese localization company InterOne. Recently we had the opportunity to speak with Aksys Games’ director of marketing, Gail Salamanca regarding the new company, its plans, and what players can expect from the release of Eagle Eye Golf, which is set to ship this fall.
Hi Gail. I know that you formerly worked at Atlus USA, but have since joined Aksys Games, which was formed in January 2006. Can you tell us a bit about your new role?
As my title would imply I’m in charge of all facets of marketing from planning to execution as well as handling all public relations for the company.
What is Aksys’ mission? Why was the company formed?
The company was originally founded as a localization firm with the goal of eventually becoming a full fledged game publisher. The opportunity to become a publisher presented itself sooner than we had originally planned with the acquisition of Eagle Eye Golf. We are still offering our localization services, however it has now become secondary so that we can focus on the publishing side of the business. Our mission is a simple one: To publish games that are fun and unique that would otherwise never see the light of day in the US market.
So will the company continue in the tradition of its Atlus pedigree, specializing in localizing Japanese titles for the U.S. Market?
Yes, that will be one of our main focuses considering our collective experience. However, we won’t rule out the possibility to work with domestic and overseas developers other than from Japan.
How is Aksys different from Atlus? Are there any similarities?
The obvious difference is the size of the company and the number of titles we intend to publish during the year. As far as similarities go, most of the staff is bilingual in English and Japanese, which allow us to do localizations in-house.
How many people does the company have on staff currently?
We have five people currently on staff.
With the next-generation of console hardware emerging, and companies continuing to have a more difficult time staying afloat, especially during this transition period, what is Aksys doing or planning to do so that it can thrive in the new market?
By working with a small staff, low operating costs and having an efficient business methodology we’ll definitely be able to weather the next-generation transition. We are also working towards partnering ourselves with some very established names in the gaming industry and look forward to announcing them in the coming months.
Do you see the change in technology from current to next-gen to present more of an opportunity or hardship for small publishers such as yourselves?
It’s definitely not the most ideal time to launch a new game company, but with that said it’s not going to be an easy year for anyone in the game publishing business in general. Like I said earlier, we started out as a localization company and the opportunity to become publisher just happened to present itself, so we took the ball and ran with it. However, we believe there’s definitely room for another boutique publisher in the US market. Gamers are always looking for new and interesting games regardless of their country of origin and we’re hoping that we can be there to provide them with another outlet.
Why was Eagle Eye Golf chosen as your company’s debut title?
After evaluating numerous titles presented to us, we truly enjoyed playing this game. As our mission statement says, we want to publish fun, enjoyable titles and this one just happened come along at the right time.
What are your plans like going forward? Is the company currently in the process of signing other Japanese titles for localization in 2006?
We are constantly evaluating titles to bring to the US market and already have some in the works after Eagle Eye Golf. We look forward to announcing them in the near future.
Thank you again for your time today. Is there anything you would like to add?
I’d like to thank eToychest for giving us the opportunity to speak a little about our company and we look forward to bringing unique and compelling interactive entertainment to gamers for years to come.