SoulWorker is one of the most hyped MMORPGs coming from South Korea and we finally have a publisher for North America and Europe! Gameforge, the big German studio is working on bringing this anime MMO to western territories and we couldn’t resist asking them a few questions – you’ll surely want to known the answers, as there’s quite some interesting info thanks to Product Director Daniel Werner.
Can you introduce yourself to our readers?
Hi guys! My name is Daniel Werner and I’ve been working here at Gameforge as Product Director on Anime MMORPGs such as NosTale and, as of recently, SoulWorker. Me and my team are running at full speed to provide SoulWorker in the highest quality to our Anime fans in North America and Europe.
Gameforge is publishing the highly anticipated anime action RPG SoulWorker in North America and Europe. When did the conversations with developer Lion Games started and was it an easy deal to make?
Well, every deal comes along with its own challenges and SoulWorker is not an exception. That said, an upfront and eye-to-eye interaction clearly helped to address those challenges head on. Gameforge and Lion Games managed to establish their relationship back in 2014 – the first email exchange reaches back to Feb 7th 2014 to be a bit more precise. We´ve been in frequent contact ever since, kept us up to date and, every time we had the chance, met each other in person. One time – actually it was the first time we got some hands on with the title – we met in front of a crowded bar at G-Star and were playing SoulWorker with a laptop on our knees and the mouse on our legs. I´m glad that after various flights to Korea, scheduled and unscheduled calls as well as countless emails we finally reached a stage where we can publicly announce our partnership which is built to last.
What did Gameforge see in SoulWorker that compelled the studio to buy the publishing rights, and was it a quick decision or was there some going back and forth about it?
There´s always one question that needs to answered prior to moving forward: is the game fun? And god damn it is! After this initial hurdle is taken there`re of course several evaluation loops before a game evolves into a tangible opportunity. SoulWorker successfully passed all those gates and therewith became our next Anime blockbuster. But, and that might not be surprising, it´s not solely about the game itself. It´s about the people who make it. Imagine how long some partnerships last – some of our games are in service for more than 10 years. You want to make sure that the mindsets align and that there´s a common ground to build the partnership upon. Lion Games always presented themselves as highly professional, motivated and talented. And once their Art Director signed a poster for us, we were sold.
Let’s get this one right out of the way: is the western version of SoulWorker going to be free-to-play just as in the other regions, or is the final business model still open to discussion?
We’ll publish SoulWorker as a Free-to-Play title for Europe and also for North America. Everyone who loves Mangas and Anime should get the chance to get in touch with SoulWorker for free.
Gameforge is mostly known for its big European titles such as TERA or AION. Do you think SoulWorker could be the game that the studio needed to truly make a dent in the North American market as well?
We´re clearly leaning westwards and North America is an interesting market for us. We´re already about to get a foothold with some of our other games over there but we indeed do see SoulWorker complementing our North American lineup. We´ve spent hours grinding through the comments on all those different channels out there, including FREEMMOSTATION, obviously and at the end of the day it was the community’s voice that made us go aggressively for the North American rights. So yes, we heard you! All of you who were expressing their frustration that SoulWorker will never make it to the west. We heard you.
As for localization, besides English, have you already decided which languages SoulWorker will include? Are you planning on keeping the original voices (maybe from the Japanese version) considering the western anime fans preference, or will you only offer English to begin with?
Besides English, SoulWorker will be available in German, French, Italian, Spanish and Polish with additional languages TBD. We´re however aware of the core audience’s preferences. Yet, as it turns out, it would be way more complicated and time consuming to “simply” keep the Japanese or Korean voice-over. There´s quite some rights management included and, whilst we´re not saying that it´s completely impossible further down the road, the launch will be focused on fully localized content.
Following on the previous question, is the Gameforge version based on which region? Japan, South Korea…?
While there’s one version where it all starts with – which is in our case the Japanese one – the ones actually in service usually differ from each other since all publishers out there are working with their own toolsets that mostly do require certain adjustments to the game.
It’s pretty much inevitable nowadays that when a western studio buys the rights for a big eastern game such as SoulWorker, many players go “Oh no, not that publisher”. Do you have any thoughts on this player mentality and is it justified at all?
We have a clear goal in mind, which we consistently pursue: To offer the Anime-Players the best gaming experience. We’ll do everything just to achieve this ambition and are now thrilled with so much anticipation on SoulWorkers – that’s awesome! We also have lot of practical knowledge with the Free-to-Play-Model and are aiming to make the best possible experience for our community.
Finally, the big question – can you give us any approximate date for a SoulWorker beta, or if not, a release window? 2016 or 2017?
Unfortunately, we can’t give any specific release window. As a player I know that gamers are always looking forward to a release date but we want to make sure that everything will run smoothly. As soon as we have more information, we will share it with you guys. So please stay tuned.
Thank you for your time and looking forward for more developments on SoulWorker!