When a new company is formed, there’s always this buzz of excitement. People don’t know what to expect, and they start wondering what could be and hoping for good things. That’s what’s happening with acttil. The announcement was made back in May, 2013, and we’ve only just started to hear about what could be coming from Hiroko Kanazashi, Nao Miyazawa and Jack Niida. I was able to catch up with Nao Miyazawa and Hiroko Kanazashi to talk about acttil’s plans for the future, as well as the company’s motivations and what they hope to accomplish.
GamerTell: So, tell me about acttil.
Nao Miyazawa: Acttil has 3 members, who are all founders, which is Hiroko Kanazashi. She used to be a former VP of Productions at NIS America, and also she was a general manager. And there’s Jack Niida, who used to be a producer at NISA and myself, Nao Miyazawa. I was the VP of marketing. Basically, the three of us, are doing everything that we know a company has to do. We’re focusing on, our main goal, is to publish a video game, but it is a long way to go. So to reach the goal, we are planning and working on different projects. Like we’re getting outsourcing projects or smaller media stuff, like ebooks and such.
GamerTell:What made the two of you decide to leave NIS America?
Miyazawa: We had been there for about 8, 9 years and truthfully, we’re getting old. We wanted to do something different and, collectively, we had the same idea of making a new company and do something similar to what we were doing, but probably more simple. When you’re in a big company, they have a policy where they think, “We’re going to be focusing on this.” You have to go with that direction. We’re thinking, be a bit more flexible and get on the projects we think are interesting. Like ebooks, products, anime or someone who’s trying to make a game.
Hiroko Kanazashi: We love NISA, but we wanted to do something different and in taking a risk, a challenge, we felt that we should do it now, rather than 10, 15 years later. We might have family and family might say, “Why are you taking the risk.” Right now, we don’t have any guaranteed salary. We have to work. The main reason is, we wanted to do something different, something new, and take on different challenges we couldn’t have taken there.
GamerTell:So, with starting a new company like this, what kind of challenges have you started to face and how have people reacted to acttil?
Kanazashi: The reaction was pretty huge. The press have us so much support, putting up articles on the website, even when we didn’t have a project yet. Which means people expect something from us.
Miyazawa: But it was very positive. We are very happy about the positive feedback from everyone around us. It motivated us even more. We have to reach their expectations. We set out the company as we want to be a video game publisher and work with indie developers, but could also help anyone who needs a little support to publish their games. So we got a lot of feedback from indie developers as well. We’re very happy that people take it in such a good way.
Kanazashi: The challenging part is, we wanted, like she said, to publish a video game for the fans out there. The thing is, we don’t have money. That’s our biggest challenge right now. We have to work on small projects to save up money to get the license for video games.
Miyazawa: I think one thing people might have misunderstood. We’re from NISA, so they think we may have some money to do something right away. But, it’s just the three of us with a little bit of savings who started up a company. It’s nothing different than any other start-up company.
GamerTell:You said some developers immediately started contacting acttil. Can you name some names?
Miyazawa: We can’t really say the names, but there are a few that we are talking to, to see how we can work together. Nothing is set in stone. We don’t have any publishing schedule, but we do have some people we’re talking to. We don’t have money, but let’s work it out.
GamerTell: Is there any predominant area these developers are coming from? Are they Japanese? American? European?
Miyazawa: We did talk with Japanese, Asian, Korean developers.
Kanazashi: Obviously, we speak English and Japanese, so it feels more international. Our strength is being able to bridge between other countries.
GamerTell: So you could see acttil bringing over doujin games, like Recettear and games like that?
Miyazawa: Definitely. We have to look at the game. The three of us have to really like it. For us, we love to work with indie developers, from Japan or where ever. The question is, do they want to work with us? We want to make a company where acttil is similar to NISA, where someone would say, “Hey, they’re doing something cool. I want to work with them.” We want to build an established company. It won’t be done in a week. We have to prove ourself. Show we’ll bring something good to them, work together and be happy at the end.
GamerTell:What kind of platforms does acttil ideally want to work with?
Miyazawa: First of all, with NISA, we worked with Sony and Nintendo. Mainly Sony consoles. So we’re going to be focusing on – we’d like to work with Sony on the PSN first. Then, we’d like to do PC, mobile. Then, go to different consoles.
Miyazawa: We have been working with Animation Studio TRIGGER to promote their title, Little Witch Academia. We are grateful to have this opportunity to work with a fantastic title like Little Witch Academia. TRIGGER just launched their Little Witch Academia 2 KickStarter campaign, and within 5-6 hours they’ve reached their goal with their fans’ support! That was just incredible! We’ll continue to assist their marketing effort in the US market.
There’s no game we’re working on now, but we’ll be announcing an ebook very soon. It’s a little, cool addition, the title that we’re bringing, and I think a lot of people will be excited about it. We’re really excited to announce it.
GamerTell:How will people be able to buy acttil’s ebooks? Will they be available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or…
Miyazawa: It will be through iTunes.
GamerTell:How do you feel about the new consoles, the Xbox One and PS4?
Kanazashi: Oh, wow. I think it was one one of the… the Sony, I think it was an awesome announcement. Everyone was really excited about it. And we’re always with Sony so it was like, “Yes!” For Xbox One, I can’t really say much about it. We haven’t really worked on a Microsoft console, but Sony’s announcement was definitely an exciting one.
GamerTell:Sony’s been working really closely with indies and there’s the self publishing thing. Are you going to be trying to really work hard with them and be part of the Sony family?
Miyazawa: Oh, we would love to. Yes.
Kanazashi: Another thing is that, I feel like it’s a benefit to us to be a start-up. With a larger company, in order for them to survive, they can’t do small projects. With just three of us, we’re more flexible. We can do a small project that everybody is happy with. It can be a challenge, but it would also be really interesting and something that we could do.
GamerTell:What kind of genres is acttil going to be primarily looking at? Are you going to go for RPGs, or action games, or puzzles? Or are you going to go for everything?
Miyazawa: We actually don’t have any specific market or genre we want to work with. What we decided is, whatever we three of us think is cool, we’re going to go with, whether it’s a puzzle game, or action, or RPG. It doesn’t matter. As long as the three of us are happy, look at the games or ebook and get excited, then we will do it.
GamerTell: Speaking of that, there was this one game, I can’t recall the name right now, [Simple DL Series Vol. 7: Assault the Cheating Boyfriend!], but it was an eShop game where a girlfriend has to catch a cheating boyfriend and players have to catch him. You know what I’m talking about?
Miyazawa and Kanazashi: Yeah! Yeah!
Kanazashi: We heard about that one a few days ago.
Miyazawa: A few weeks ago?
Kanazashi: A few weeks ago. That was so interesting. Let’s look at that title. We would love to do something like that.
Miyazawa: Yeah, we definitely would like to contact them and see if we could get the license. We would very much, like, oh my gosh, that would have to be the perfect game. I think even the male gamers would like it. Or, they might not want their girlfriends to play it. I think that was a really interesting concept. Because everyone has that experience. Being in a relationship and, “Is my boyfriend cheating?” People might relate to that. Or, if they can not relate to it, they could think, “Wow. This chick is crazy.” But yes, we saw that and thought it was really cool.
GamerTell: Acttil is actually a bit of a rarity in the video game world, as there are three people and two of the members are women. You know, given how this is a male dominated industry. What has it been like for both of you, as women in the video game industry.
Miyazawa: I’ve been in the gaming industry for 8-9 years and it’s been nothing but great. I’ve been having so much fun. There’ve been exciting moments and projects and people. Everybody we meet is so easy going, outgoing and excited about what they do. It gives us more energy. Like you.
I’m sorry for women who have bad experiences, but it’s been great.
Kanazashi: So far, we’ve been fortunate to have great people around us. We’ve never had bad experiences. It’s been great.
We’ll be looking for more from acttil over the next few months, and years! For now though, look forward to the collector’s edition of Little Witch Academia on Blu-ray before Summer 2013 ends.