In the past few months, Tekken producer Katsuhiro Harada began his podcast series titled Harada’s Bar. Featuring competitors and fellow game developers, Harada offers fans a look into how Japanese game producers look at their products.
One of the most challenging aspects of continued support for a fighting game is undoubtedly the communication. Since fighting games are competitive titles, players want to share their opinions with development teams in hopes for future balance changes. However, many companies such as Capcom and Bandai Namco reside in Japan, making communication overseas more complicated.
For many companies, this is where the role of community manager comes into play. Capcom notably appointed competitor Peter Rosas, better known as “ComboFiend”, as their USA community manager. While Rosas eventually left the position, this was a big step for Capcom at the time to represent themselves in the FGC through a known player.
HOW COMMUNICATION HAS IMPROVED
As regular updates became standard for fighting games, transparency about balance decisions is more important than ever. Many players often criticized NetherRealm Studios for their frequent balance changes for titles like Mortal Kombat X. This led to confusion about character consistency and players being forced to make quick adaptations for tournaments. In the meantime, fellow American studio Iron Galaxy made history by having an open reading of patch notes at the Killer Instinct World Cup.
While NRS and Iron Galaxy are American studios, Japanese companies faced geographical, time, and language barriers. One way studios are trying to deal with this is through “Japan Fighting Game Publishers Roundtable” streams. The first, which happened in August 2020, featured executives from companies like Capcom, ARIKA, and Bandai Namco answering fan questions about how they make decisions in development. Since then there has been one other JFGPR stream, where studios yet again used additional time to reveal new DLC for their games.
WHY HARADA’S BAR IS DIFFERENT
While steps like the JFGPR and Capcom’s recent update shows are important, Katsuhiro Harada’s talk show is a very different entity. By making his own podcast, Harada gives a more direct line of communication about current events in the community.
Though the bar setting of the show serves as a bit of a gimmick, the casual environment has seen guests like Ken Kutaragi and pro Tekken player Gen. Recently, Harada announced an upcoming episode featuring Masahiro Sakurai, the man behind Super Smash Bros.
The podcast format may be imperfect for fan interaction with producers, but the importance of Harada’s Bar is certainly noteworthy. Involving figureheads like Sakurai and SEGA’s Seiji Aoki brings necessary communication into the forefront about Japanese fighting games. Long-form content directly from company executives may not be a standard in the fighting game scene, but Harada’s show should be seen as a welcome addition in the community.
Harada’s episode with Sakurai will premiere August 14 and feature multiple segments over the next few weeks.
Featured image courtesy of Harada’s Bar
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