The state of Japanese PC ports

Over the last few years, we’ve seen a push by Japanese publishers to bring more of their games to the PC. An unexpected move given the relatively unimportant position PCs hold in the Japanese gaming industry. But the long tail potential, thanks largely in part to Steam, might have influenced publishers to rethink their strategies in the west.

Unfortunately, a good chunk of these ports feels like they’ve been rushed out the door, with little thought put into the needs of PC gamers. Unbindable controls locked fps, and game breaking bugs. This should sound all too familiar if you’ve had to deal with Japanese PC releases. What we see happening far too often are Japanese publishers releasing broken games, only to forget all about them.

This is most apparent with Nier: Automata. 4 months after release, and Square Enix has failed to address the issues plaguing the PC port. Fans were forced to take matters into their own hands, releasing FAR (Fix Automata Resolution), which fixed the resolution scaling bug, cutscene stutter, and the reoccurring white screen crash, among other issues. It’s unacceptable that a publisher as large as Square Enix would wash their hands of Nier and leave it up third parties to fix their game.

We also saw a similar case with Killer is Dead: Nightmare Edition. For users with dual core processors, the game would get into an infinite loading bug during the third mission.There were no comments from the publisher, nor were any patches ever released to resolve the problem. It took months before users were able to come up with a workaround. But by then, the damage was already done. It’s doubtful that the people affected by this bug would take the gamble on any future grasshopper ports.

But not all hope is lost. Disgaea PC had its fair share of bugs on release. However, NIS America was incredibly transparent about the issues surrounding the game on the Steam forums. They kept fans up to date with news on the progress of patches, updates were provided in a timely matter, and directly communicated with consumers.  Now that is how you win over customers. When you know a publisher like NIS America will do everything in their power to fix their ports, it gives you confidence in recommending their games to others. The same can’t be said for Square Enix if they’re handling of Nier is anything to go by.

It is imperative we hold Japanese Publishers up to the same standards we’ve come to expect from their western counterparts. Back in 2014, Durante, best known as the modder who fixed Dark Souls on PC, wrote an open letter to developers, in listing essential features every PC game should have. Some of the features included Arbitrary Resolution, variable framerate, and input remapping. But despite his reasonable request,  it’s still hit or miss whether we see these features included in Japanese releases.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Japanese developers are slowly coming to understand just what it takes to be successful in the PC market. For every Koei-Tecmo, who have refused to learn anything despite numerous PC releases, we also have developers like FromSoftware. They’ve come a long way from the broken mess that was Dark Souls: Prepare to Die edition. Dark Souls 3, proves that with enough dedication and willingness to listen to community feedback, great ports can be made. I’d love to hear your experience playing a Japanese PC port in the comments below.

References
“Disgaea PC.” PCGamingWiki. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 July 2017.
https://pcgamingwiki.com/wiki/Disgaea_PC
Fenlon, Wes. “How Japan Learned to Love PC Gaming Again.” Pcgamer. PC Gamer, 10 Apr. 2017. Web. 05 July    2017.
http://www.pcgamer.com/how-japan-learned-to-love-pc-gaming-again
“Killer Is Dead.” PCGamingWiki. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 July 2017.
https://pcgamingwiki.com/wiki/Killer_Is_Dead
“Nier: Automata.” PCGamingWiki. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 July 2017.
https://pcgamingwiki.com/wiki/Nier:_Automata
Thoman, Peter “Durante”. “Broken PC Ports like Tales of Symphonia Are Unacceptable.” Pcgamer. PC Gamer,      02 Feb. 2016. Web. 05 July 2017.
http://www.pcgamer.com/broken-pc-ports-like-tales-of-symphonia-are-unacceptable
Thoman, Peter “Durante”. “The Features PC Gamers Want—an Open Letter to Developers and Gamers.” Pcgamer. PC Gamer, 06 Oct. 2014. Web. 05 July 2017.
http://www.pcgamer.com/the-features-pc-gamers-wantan-open-letter-to-developers-and-gamers/

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