In this first of two interviews from NIS America’s recent press event, President Souhei Niikawa sat with us for a few minutes to talk about some of his goals for the company, the company’s new IPs, and of course, Disgaea.
Jennifer Griffith: What has been your biggest challenge since taking over as president of NIS America?
Souhei Niikawa: I’m in the middle of this challenge right now, but I want to create a game that’s equal to Disgaea or above and beyond Disgaea. That’s the biggest challenge I have. Within five years! The goal is to make two of those titles within the next five years.
JG: Would those be new IPs, then?
SN: Yes, new IPs. We’ve started a little on that. The Witch and the Hundred Knight is an example, and The Guided Fate Paradox is another example. If they could transition to become a Disgaea equal or above, that would be awesome. Please cheer us on!
JG: Speaking of Disgaea, it was previously mentioned that Disgaea 5 is in development and that it aims to reach a broader audience. Can you give any insight on what you’re changing up for that?
SN: It’s been our goal with previous Disgaeas to have many people play it, but we want to add a few elements to the game that will make even more people want to play the game. One hurdle is that we sell Disgaea as a really playable game that you could play for hours upon hours. But that idea of Disgaea has spread out so much that for new Disgaea players, it might be overwhelming. So, it’s a good thing and a bad thing at the same time. That’s one of of our biggest hurdles.
We created Disgaea so it’s fun with one single playthrough. But people may not know that, so we hope to spread the word to our non-Disgaea players that one playthrough is okay. You don’t have to keep playing!
JG: I asked earlier what you’re biggest challenge has been as president, but what do you feel your biggest accomplishment has been?
SN: I’m glad that I’m still president! That ‘s what I’m proud of.
JG: When you first took over as president, you pointed to the possibility of NIS releasing other forms of media as well as anime and games, like manga or music. Is that still a possibility?
SN: We do still have that goal. Nippon Ichi Software wants to become an entertainment conglomerate of sorts. But in order to become that entertainment giant, we want our games to succeed more so that anime companies will ask us to work with them to create, for example, a Disgaea anime or a Guided Fate Paradox anime or a Witch and the Hundred Knight anime. That’s why, as I said earlier, I want to make two new IPs besides Disgaea to get big so that we can branch out into other parts of entertainment.
JG: NIS and Gust seemed to have a really close working relationship. Were you surprised at all to see Tecmo Koei acquire Gust?
SN: Yes, I was definitely surprised!
JG: As a followup, is there any chance that you’d be able to collaborate with them on future Atelier games?
SN: It’s all up to Tecmo Koei. We’re always saying, “Yeah, give us more work!”
JG: Speaking of localizing things, any plans to bring over Noire’s Neptunia spinoff for the Vita?
SN: Idea Factory has the publishing rights, and they do have Idea Factory America now. So, it’s up to them, but we would like to. As of right now, we don’t know what’s going to happen.
JG: Just as a “for fun” question, have you watched the Anohana anime, and if so, how many times did you cry? (Sorry, it’s obligatory!)
SN: I’ve seen a few episodes, but I don’t want to cry, so I haven’t finished it! I met the writer, and having met her personally, I’d hate to think that she made me cry, so I’m taking it slowly. But I am interested in watching it!