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Inside Bandai Namco Games: How a unique approach has led to continued success

Bandai Namco just recently changed the order of its name from Namco Bandai.
Bandai Namco just recently changed the order of its name from Namco Bandai.
Photo courtesy of Bandai Namco, used with permission.

Bandai Namco is one of the most unique Japanese publishers in the games industry.

Of course you'd never know that by just looking through an external perspective. The company is renown for its many classic intellectual properties such as Tales, Ridge Racer, Tekken, and countless other franchises including many based in anime and manga.

But how did it get to be that way?

Bandai Namco is a company that knows what it needs to do to be successful and has gone to great lengths to give every single title the best chance at being fruitful in each region.

Examiner recently had an exclusive interview with Tony Colafrancesco, the Director of Business Development at Bandai Namco Games America, where we talked extensively about his experience with the company. His particular viewpoint provides an interesting look inside the international conglomerate.

We hadn't even had time to ask Colafrancesco a question before he began bursting at the seams with his opinion of the publisher.

"Somebody just asked me this and it's something I'm really happy about," he says as we get settled.

"Typically with Japanese publishers, a lot of them that have come over, try to take their games that have made a lot of money in Japan and just force it on the West. How are we avoiding that?" asks Colafrancesco.

"There's two parts to that. There's Bandai Namco Games America, Bandai Namco Games Europe, and Bandai Namco Games Inc. in Japan. What's really great is each group independently publishes their titles worldwide," he explains. "That's usually not the setup with most Japanese companies where you're just sort of a satellite, where you're under Japan's thumb."

"We get a lot of support from them, we collaborate with them, but we have our own budget, our own team.

"I've got to say out of all the companies I've worked with, I've never seen this before, so I'm just ecstatic."

Colafrancesco describes a situation in which an insane amount of trust is placed in the American studios' hands. Effectively illustrating exactly how unique that relationship is.

"[The developers of] a major title from Japan came to us and said, 'Hey, we'd love to see this in the West, we'd think it'd have a great following.' We agreed, and they ended up giving us the source code," he exclaims, "[that just] does not happen."

He emphasizes that point again saying, "In 17 years in the industry, I haven't seen it once. It's like a dream come true!"

The rest of our conversation was equally passionate, "'You're giving us the source code?' [To which they replied], 'Yeah, we'd like final approval, but make it work for the West.'"

"If it was culturally acceptable I would have just hugged them. I'm Italian, I can't help it."

While we couldn't help but attempt to ask him about some other aspects of his job, Colafrancesco inevitably returned to expressing his deep appreciation of Bandai Namco's ways.

"There's also a lot of advantages in general with [the company.] The willingness from our headquarters to work with different divisions. Not being hamstrung in publishing duties.

"It's a very pleasant surprise to me, the first Japanese publisher I've worked for that it's been really smooth on that end."

Colafrancesco only hopes that this style of interaction continues to lead his company towards lasting success.