Nintendo and Monolith Discuss Localisation of Both Xenoblade X and 2

Friday, June 16th, 2017

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An interview with Kotaku has revealed some interesting tidbits about the Wii U exclusive Xenoblade Chronicles X, the upcoming Xenoblade Chronicles 2 on the Nintendo Switch, and Nintendo’s localisation process. The interview was with the CEO of Monolith Soft, Tetsuya Takahasi, Nintendo’s Genki Yokota as well as Reggie Fils-Amie, the CEO of Nintendo of America.

When Takahashi was asked about his thoughts on the changes to Xenoblade Chronicles X, he said:

“In terms of Xenoblade Chronicles X, there’s been a few different changes that were made to the game, but my personality is such that I’m not a stickler for products that I’ve already made, so I don’t really mind what the final product turns out to be in that sense. I really didn’t mind much at all, actually.

As a developer, I do feel like it’d be ideal to be able to adjust the content so that it’s culturally acceptable, whether it’s in the US or in the EU. For example, there was a discussion about the breast slider. Jokingly, I said, ‘Well would it help if we had a crotch slider for the male?’ Obviously it was a joke, but they responded obviously it’s not gonna work out. I do realize there’s a cultural difference between what Japanese people think and what the rest of the world thinks.”

When asked for his feelings on whether he is being censored as a developer and whether he is okay with that, he said:

“I think what’s important is that we make sure that the end user who actually plays the game doesn’t have a bad experience. If that change is going to help alleviate that, then I think we should definitely make it.”

The interview also confirms that Nintendo of Europe are handling the localisation of Xenoblade Chronicles 2 as they did with the original game. Nintendo of America localised Xenoblade Chronicles X.

Yokota states that all three companies are communicating about localisation decisions that may prove to be controversial. He elaborates further by saying that:

“When we have costumes or clothes that we have a little concern with, we share it with NoE and NoA and they’ll say, ‘No, no, that’s fine’ or ‘You’re right, that’s an issue.’ If it is an issue, we’ll go back and say we’ll say, ‘We adjusted it this way, what do you think?’ There’s a lot of back and forth in that sense. Rather than compromise, it’s like we’re all aiming for the same goal, of being able to provide a good experience for everybody in all regions. And we’re aiming to have a game that has very little difference between the regions.”

Fils-Aime also had this to say on the subject.

“The creators are always involved in anything that happens in the localization process. In terms of what gets localized, there’s a simple collection of words that we use to define how we think about this: It’s ‘cultural relevance’ and ‘understanding of the ratings and ratings implications.”

He also said that a character’s age may push the game to an M rating, making it harder to sell. He says that it is “clearly is not in the best interest of the developers or the business for that to happen.” Elaborating further, Fls-Aime said that Nintendo of America’s Treehouse localisers travel to Japan about “every two months” to work with the Japanese developers of the games that they are localising. Additionally he said:

“It’s during those meetings that they discuss the localization process, what’s being evaluated. I am extremely comfortable with the process. And again if you look at our executives that are involved, Nate Bihldorff and members of this team, they have deep relationships with the developers and everything is being done with the best intentions of the content showing itself the best way it can.”

Nintendo note that as Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is coming out at the same time around the world, this allows the devs to talk about possible localisation issues during development rather than post-release, as was the case with previous titles. Yokota had further comments.

“We’re really building [the game] as we’re in discussion. Whereas for the past title, the Japanese version had already been pretty much close to completion when this [localization] discussion started. For past titles, because the Japanese version was done, our challenge was then to figure out what it is we need to do to make sure this game is made available in overseas, as well as, we’re able to sell this product. In that sense, I was open to making any changes that were necessary to make sure everybody can enjoy this game.”

The full interview can be read here.

About Joseph Puntschart

A university student who loves niche games and desires for them to be more fairly represented in the world. Favourite games include Persona 4 Golden, Super Mario Galaxy, Kingdom Hearts II and IA/VT Colorful. Hopes that one day a Japanese publisher will take the risk and make a Yaoi ecchi game. Think Valkyrie Drive with guys and you're on the right lines.

  • kerbastrar2

    No one should be surprised that 1st party Nintendo developers are saying this

  • Zeroroute(進路 の 零度)

    Sadly we’re at the point where anything “problematic” would be taken into consideration at the start for all regions, and things may get the point where we can’t escape by importing

  • Mr0303

    This doesn’t bode well for Xenoblade Chronicles 2. It nigh confirms that all risqué content will either be removed or “localised”.

    It’s a sad state of affairs when content has to be removed from a game considering the average gamer is an adult.

    • Steve Baltimore

      I doubt they will even get in Japan at this point to avoid ppl saying you censored this or that.

    • Mr0303

      Unfortunately I think you are correct. By the sounds of it they are aware of the X controversy and the easiest way to avoid that backlash again is to sanitise all versions.

    • Akira Rei

      If that is the case,I can see an outfit change for the main female lead. Which honestly I thought we have gotten rid of all the Puritanical Christians in our video games. Seriously,they keep coming back but with different labels.

    • Mr0303

      Christians, feminists – they all want to demonise gaming because it’s an easy target.

    • Why not have both options available… make it a setting or something

    • Why not have both options available

      This idea has been suggested before, particularly by GamerGate in the past, but the moral retards outright rejected it.

      The people who complain (SJWs, feminists, etc.,) are authoritarians. If they personally dislike something, they don’t want anyone else having the chance to enjoy it.

    • Keichi Morisato

      we did get rid of Christians in our Video games, and the game’s media helped with that. but when it came to feminism, they decided to throw us under the bus. #gamergate #neverforget

    • epy

      And then the japanese get pissed off like with the new Star Ocean. Moral busybodies ruin everything.

  • Miqubi

    Meh they’re just trying to rake in clicks/spark a controversy.
    It’s an interview released about a franchise with its latest announced title that is coming under fire by idiots because some of them don’t like pyra, totally a coincidence *roll eyes* they smelled the controversy a mile away and if pyra is actually changed they have another FE Fates with copious amount of clicks.

    Personally nowadays I only care if games with 18+ content are getting something cut (and unless Mangagamer, Denpasoft, JAST and frontwing go crazy I’ll be fine), I feel sorry for whoever was looking forward to this if they cut something, in my case I’ll just move it down the wishlist.

    That said, in Europe we had FE awakening dlc uncensored back then and NoE is localizing xenoblade 2, so I wonder should some changes happen if we’ll see a different treatment between NA and EU.

    • Akira Rei

      I really hope at least the EU version can remain untouched for English speakers. Cause with the Switch being region-free,it sure helps to better vote with our wallets with more options.

    • Miqubi

      If I had to hazard a guess I would say that it won’t happen anymore, mostly because it makes sense from an efficiency PoV to do the job “once” (this is a ww release after all).
      But I don’t work in the loc industry so this is just speculation, still hope it makes it across the pond in one piece for those who want it like that though.

  • Firion Hope

    Interviews like this are by and large pointless, because a dev, especially a Japanese one would *never* say something that might hurt their business relationship. What you think they’ll *actually* ever say “No I don’t like the censorship and I wish it didn’t happen”? Of course not. It’s also likely they just don’t care much about what happens outside of Japan with their game as long as they see the sales.

    Anyway sounds like now they’re pre censoring in the development stage so people can’t say it’s censored which sickens me.

    • Miqubi

      They are not pointless for kotaku 😛 they are just doing it because it’s about “anime boobs”, tell people the creators don’t care and then frame anyone with an opposing view as a monster.
      Not a single flying f*ck was given when people complained about that scene in Berseria being changed, yet this will most likely be about Pyra if changes happen and they know it.

    • Keichi Morisato

      no, there was outrage with the scene in berseria that was changed, at least there was within the Tales community.

    • Miqubi

      I know, I meant that they wouldn’t report on it because it won’t generate as much clicks as “people angry because of anime boobs”

    • epy

      Look at the comments in the Kutaco aticle. Bunch of “gotchas” from people saying the devs don’t care so you dont have a right to care either. It’s part of the narrative they create to justify censorship.

  • MusouTensei

    Very disappointing interview, might have to buy Xenoblade 2 used then. Still didn’t got around buying a used copy of Berseria, too busy with other game.

  • Panpopo

    Well all people can do is wait until it is released. Just don’t preorder if this a concern to you.

    If they are really releasing this year, that time will come soon enough.

    There is not enough time in the world to play everything. Will revisit this when the game releases.

  • bomblord

    Another point for “not censorship”

  • epy

    At least Treehouse is not working on it. The chances of butchering lessens by a lot. It’s also good that they notice there’s a backlash for censorship. Too bad they’re taking the “censor all versions” approach instead of “listening to our customers” approach.

    Moral busybodies ruin everything, might as well finish all my comments with that.

  • Hyou Vizer

    so basically english version Pyra will have pants and a jacket now ?

  • This game is going to be a “wait until after launch” title for me, despite it being from my favorite series….

  • So it’s basically “it’s not censorship, it’s localization” and “muh cultural differences.” How insightful.

  • Craig A McLeod

    > ‘Well would it help if we had a crotch slider for the male?’

    Someone’s not played Saints Row.

  • neptuniafan

    I think that Nintendo should not be aiming towards everyone, especially if it is JRPG where not everyone can enjoy, no matter the content.

  • “Rather than compromise, it’s like we’re all aiming for the same goal, of being able to provide a good experience for everybody in all regions.”

    If they genuinely wanted everybody to have a good experience, they should implement two modes in the game. For example:

    – An ‘Original Mode’ where everything is intact and true to the Japanese original, with accurate translations for the normal people.

    – A ‘Safe Mode’ where anything supposedly “problematic” is removed and censored for the sensitive, whining crybullies. This mode could also possibly help to act as a filter for children/minors playing the game, so perhaps some sort of password-protected option that prevents them from switching the game into Original Mode as well.

    This idea has of course been suggested before, but the SJWs and feminists outright rejected it. It really does show that these people are not for “diversity” or “inclusivity”, but instead for authoritarianism.

    “When we have costumes or clothes that we have a little concern with, we share it with NoE and NoA and they’ll say, ‘No, no, that’s fine’ or ‘You’re right, that’s an issue.’ If it is an issue, we’ll go back and say we’ll say, ‘We adjusted it this way, what do you think?’ There’s a lot of back and forth in that sense.”

    Authoritarianism in broad daylight.

  • Paychi

    They keep throwing around “culturally acceptable” “culturally acceptable”. What culture do they think we live in? Our trashy pop stars are constantly flashing their pubic region and barely covering their nipples and humping backup dancers all the time at “prestigious” professional events. Of course it’s culturally acceptable, they just want more bad reasons to have Nintendo of America staff collect a fat paycheck for doing unnecessary work.

    • Led_Stylus

      This, essentially.

    • Mr0303

      This problem seems to be much deeper than I initially thought. The whole culturalization thing seems to be something endorsed by IGDA. This video is quite informative on the matter:

  • Dogi

    I don’t think Nintendo understands that JRPG fan want the J part of the games intact.

  • Mr0303

    These statements by Nintendo shouldn’t be a surprise. It seems this is the general attitude towards localisation and “culturalization”. The below video shows how IGDA (The International Game Developers Association) wrote advice (read instructions) how to modify a game for the different regions. This is another example of how unions are cancer.