Introduction to Companies in Osaka
Active Gaming Media Incorporated
Interviews with foreign investors in Osaka 2014.07.11
QPlease tell us about your company, Active Gaming Media.
Active Gaming Media was established 6 years ago in 2008. We were first established in Tokyo and moved to Osaka in our second year. What we do is offer services for Japanese game companies that basically involve everything required to bring the three axes of Japanese popular culture - manga, anime, and games - overseas. More specifically, we are involved in the translation of a wide variety of languages, tailoring of graphics to the tastes of overseas gamers, as well as servers and payment systems - all of which we can offer to Japanese businesses as a single comprehensive package.
QPlease introduce yourself.
I was born in 1977 and I am now 36 years old, and I am originally from Spain. I came to Japan straight after leaving university, the reason being I really loved the Manga “Golgo 13.” I did not actually have much of an interest in games in the beginning. However, I started working for a game company called Marvelous Entertainment in Japan and I found my work there to be very enjoyable. I took the things I learned at that job and turned it into a business when I went independent and started Active Gaming Media.
QWhy did you decide to relocate to Osaka?
Our aim is to get Japanese games overseas, so the majority of our staff are foreign nationals. Of course, there are Japanese people in the sales and marketing area, but I can say that virtually 100% of the people engaged in the actual work we do are foreign. The foreign residents of Tokyo and Osaka are completely different. For example, people who wish to make a casual trip to Japan will definitely go to Tokyo. But, I think people who make the decision to come to Osaka are the people who truly like Japan. They are the kind of people whose love of Japan leads them to stay considerably longer. It isn’t as though we’ve seen any data to confirm this, but we wanted to employ foreigners willing to work with us for a long time, so we chose to relocate to Osaka. We also thought about Kobe a little, but Osaka is a much larger city and there are many game companies with a lot of history such as Capcom and SNK Playmore here, so Osaka was the natural choice.
QWhat is your method for sourcing foreign employees?
I assume all companies have a proper system in place for hiring the people they need for any given time or period. However, our company is in the games industry, and the games industry abroad is changing at an explosive rate. These circumstances mean it is unfortunately not possible to plan for long term employment arrangements. But there is always demand for English language projects and projects from America, so we do staff people accordingly. However, there are often times, for example, when we might suddenly need three people who can speak Indonesian the next day. On such occasions, we generally look to universities or contact HelloWork and other temporary employment agencies. When we do so, there is only one hiring standard: "How much do you know about games?" That is all. I have never been unable to recruit and hire human resources for any specific language. It may have taken us time to find people at some points, but Kyoto and Kobe are close to Osaka and so naturally the human resources we need can generally be found.
QWere there any changes to your business after you moved to Osaka?
We have become able to hire people at low cost. I do not mean in the sense of wages for staff, but rather that we have been blessed with good human resources. Wages were a little more expensive in Tokyo of course, but more significantly, the employee turnover rate was higher in Tokyo than in Osaka. Currently, our company’s employee retention rate is extremely high for this industry and as our job knowhow has advanced tremendously compared to when we were in Tokyo, our quality has greatly improved accordingly. In short, I believe all changes that have occurred are exemplified in the increasing quality of our work.
QAre there any differences doing business in Osaka and Tokyo?
I do not know whether it is alright to say this, but I think that there are a lot of people who make unreasonable complaints, not only in Osaka but throughout the entire Kansai region. There are a lot people who have very harsh opinions on the things they purchase, so it becomes necessary for professionals to pursue a high level of quality as they cannot afford to hand over anything less to their customers. To that extent, our position in Osaka keeps us focused on delivering high quality.
QAre there any differences between the game industry in Japan and overseas?
Rather than simply dragging it along, it could be said that Japan built up the game industry in the 90s. Recently however, Japan has become obsessed with IP (intellectual property), or in other words the ‘character business,’ and as a result products here feel slightly inferior in terms of game elements when compared to those from overseas. The current trend overseas appears to be a focus on innovative mechanics and improved game elements, with less emphasis on IP. With this in mind, I encourage Japanese companies that wish to successfully expand overseas to think more about the game elements that go into their titles rather than trying to rely entirely on their IP. For example, the gaming elements of “Super Mario” are really fantastic. On top of that, its IP was phenomenal as well, and combined it became a game to be loved by all. It goes to show that game elements need to come first. I would like Japanese companies to work hard and return to their origins once more. Companies that are serious about competing in overseas markets need to set aside their IP, go back to the drawing board, and create something interesting from scratch.
QHow comfortable is life in Osaka?
The first thing that comes to mind is the incredibly delicious food. If you’re looking for cheap and delicious eats, Osaka is the place to be. Also, if you’re looking for areas with more nature, you can reach the mountains or the sea within about a 20 minute drive, so I think it is considerably easier to live here than Tokyo. I was born in a port town in Spain where I was always yachting or windsurfing. In Japan, Osaka and Kobe are better suited for that kind of thing. The idea of moving to Tokyo and living in a giant metropolis now is unthinkable.
QWould you provide a message for foreign companies considering coming to Osaka?
I love Japanese IP (characters) to the extent that the reason I came to Japan was my love of “Golgo 13.” I had done some research on a number of things before I came here, and I found information that said that the Japanese people were such and such, that Japanese corporate culture is this and that, and that there were certain customs you had to conform to. But, once I actually arrived here, I did not think that Japan was different from other countries at all. The products are different of course, and the language used is different too. Ultimately though, the feelings of the people who make things and the rules holding companies together are exactly the same as overseas. So all I want to say is that first of all, I think you just ought to come to Japan without any presumptions, learn about the games here, and then see things through from there. Also, aside from the differences in the games industry, there is a difference in corporate society in general: Japan’s culture of keeping promises scrupulously. The fact that payments and deadlines are always properly observed makes this an easier environment to work in when compared to overseas, I feel.
|Active Gaming Media Incorporated|
|General Manager||Ibai V. Ameztoy|
|Company Name||Active Gaming Media Incorporated|
|Business Outline||localization for video games and other industries delivering digital content to European and American markets