You might have noticed today that gaming news sites are flooded with Bandai Namco announcements. This is because earlier this month, Bandai Namco held their Global Gamers Day 2014, where they unveiled the details about their upcoming releases for the year. Today, those who attended the event were released from their oath of silence (also known as an embargo) and turned loose to unleash that news online. Since these announcements covered a variety of franchises, genres and platforms, I figured it would be easiest to just sum it all up here for those interested.
On April 10th, the day of the event, myself and around 50 other gaming journalists from all over North and South America were ushered into the Hard Rock Hotel's Vinyl entertainment hall to begin the presentations. Just as all gaming announcements seem to start, Global Gamers Day 2014 began with a video presentation that showcased a bunch of their titles, both old and new.
After the video presentation that seemed to be designed to familiarize us with Bandai Namco's past, the speakers arrived on stage to start getting into the substance of things. Beginning with the answer to the question I had been wondering since I got the invitation to the event, Bandai Namco Senior Manager Denny Chiu clarified the company's name change from Namco Bandai to Bandai Namco, which came into effect worldwide just over a week before on April 1st.
With that out of the way, Marketing Directors Brian Hong and Dennis Lee stepped up to the podium to announce a whole slew of new games that will be arriving this year for consoles. Going through the details of over a dozen titles coming to console this year, it very quickly became apparent that they were making a big push to bring more of their Japanese content to North America. In addition toGrid AutosportandLords of the Fallen, which were both developed in Europe, the announcements includedNaruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm,One Piece: Unlimited World Red,Power Rangers: Super Megaforceand two games in theTalesfranchise:Tales of Xillia 2andTales of Hearts R. Not exactly surprising to see so much Japanese-based content coming from Bandai Namco, but it was nice to see a few of the more western-style games in there. Check out some of our developer interviews for more information on some of those games.
The next presentation was given by Jason Enos, who is a Senior Global Brand Manager with Bandai Namco. He went over the company's ROLA (Rest of Latin America) campaign, which focuses on expansion into Latin American markets in Central and South America. Since Bandai Namco has already established a strong foothold in both Mexico and Brazil, they feel that they are in a strong position to moving into these growing markets by forming new partnerships with South American firms.
One such partnership is with PlayTV in Brazil who will be airing the animeNaruto Shippudenin order to create more brand awareness. This year also marked the first time that Brazilian gaming journalists were invited to the event and it was announced that they would be making efforts to provide release dates for the Americas as a whole rather than splitting them up by region.
Director of Business Development for Mobile Games Tony Colafrancesco (what a name!) was the next speaker to take the stage, beginning with some gameplay footage of a few of Bandai Namco's mobile titles. The first game shown wasRidge Racer Slipstream, which was already released on iOS and Android but would soon be patched to provide a multiplayer mode on Android devices. He also announced the development ofTNA 2, which will be coming to iOS and Android later this year. Colafrancesco (still awesome) also mentioned that Bandai Namco would be entering into a partnership with Yahoo Games with the aim of expanding their presence in the mobile market.
The final round of announcements was presented by Joon Hwang, Director of Digital Games, who spoke on Bandai Namco's desire to establish themselves in the free-to-play market, which he admitted they have neglected. Explaining their approach as a two-pronged attack, Hwang described how the first stage would be to provide free-to-play titles in familiar franchises such asSoulCaliburandAce Combat, which they think should attract fans of those series.
The second part of their free-to-play strategy was revealed asRise of Incarnates, which is a free-to-play two versus two fighting game that combines aspects from both fighting and shooting games. The two versus two format of the game has proven popular with free-to-play games recently in Japan, as it encourages teamwork over personal skill and brings a whole new element of play to standard one-on-one fighting style. Executive Producer Ryuichiro Baba took to the stage to stress howRise of Incarnateswas crucial, not only to the free-to-play initiative, but to Bandai Namco as a whole.
With that, the opening presentations closed and we split up into more manageable groups to get a closer look at some of the titles announced. Check out some of the interviews and hands-on previews from the rest of the event on our site for additional details on these and other announcements.