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GS: So what was it like being in a Japanese company at that time?
JG: Those were the early days, not only being in a Japanese company, but just a foreigner being in Japan was really unique, because there wasn't this mass influx that you now have. You saw another foreigner walking down the road, you gave him a high five, because you didn't meet that many other people.
So in this context it was really exciting, and the company itself was exciting. They had, as you know, such great history, and they were just building upon that. I think at the time we must have been a $400 million company or so, so it was really steamrolling, and there were great games everywhere.
So as a gamer, you can imagine how exciting that would be, to be in a situation where you have all these new exciting products and you’re just rolling them to America, and the company is Japanese. It was a perfect situation for me, personally, but also for the company because they did very well off the entire business.
GS: There was a recent change in leadership in Hudson in Japan, right? Have there been any changes resultant from that?
JG: That leadership change came about almost two years ago, now, and that leadership change put Mr. Kudo in a chairmanship, and elevated Mr. Endo into the presidency. This was kind of spurred by our parent company, Konami, inserting new blood, basically, into the company, and just kind of shaping the company as they see fit, the majority shareholder.
GS: What is that relationship like?
JG: It's good. I think Konami is a great mentor for Hudson, certainly. I mean, they are a multi‑billion‑dollar company, and they do so many things so well, so we have learned so much from them. And the opposite is true. They, not necessarily learn, but they get many things from Hudson because we are a more nimble company who does a lot of new creative things that in a bigger company, you can't do as easily. So we offer them something, and we get a lot in return.
GS: Do they have first right of refusal on publishing Hudson stuff, or...?
JG: In Japan? In America?
JG: No. I mean, we have a good relationship with them; some games they do, some games they don't. It is pretty much on a game‑by‑game basis.
GS: It's more separate here than it is in Japan?
JG: Yeah, in Japan Konami does Hudson's distribution. Hudson's still the publisher, but they do the distribution.
GS: Hudson's still a publisher in Japan?
GS: OK, I was confused about that precisely because of that relationship, and since Hudson doesn't publish here, still, correct?
JG: Right, right.
GS: Are you looking to get back to that at any point?
JG: Yeah. We’re excited, especially with the release of Bonk, which was actually just released on mobile. So we are a publisher on the mobile side of course, but on console we are really waiting to see about Bonk, and how we can bring Bonk in, and that will lead to other things, we hope. We’re just excited that we have a new flagship character. It's not new, but we're bringing it back, so new in essence.
GS: Why now, to get back into the console space?
JG: Well, I didn't really say we are going to be a publisher, I just mean we are going to get back into it, we're going to still advise...
GS: I don't mean just on publishing, I mean in terms of console itself, like the development side of things, bringing stuff out.
JG: I think it's a good question, and it really relates to timing, not so much the market timing ‑‑ although that's helpful because all the machines are coming out ‑‑ but really timing within Hudson.
We have made this company successful in a little less than three years, so Hudson understands that and would like to build on that. They would also like to build on their foreign markets, so this offers them a really great opportunity to step into these foreign markets, and we can drive that business for them, basically, or at least help. I mean, everything takes time, and we do everything on a step‑by‑step basis, but you build up and you become more worthwhile as a company as you grow, obviously.
GS: It sounds like it was more on your side, deciding to come back into console in the U.S., or it was it a mandate from Japan?
JG: No, we always pushed it because we thought, hey, first of all, we've got a really talented group here in development and marketing and sales, so we know what we can do, and we know how we can enter the market, we know how we can help Hudson Japan. We have a lot of creativity, so at the very least we could give them the creativity that makes their games more relevant for America. Otherwise you get that really Japanese feel for every game, and that's OK for people who really love Japanese culture, but we want to make it a more mass market.
So we’ll start by giving them some advice and doing some of the graphic work here so that those models can be then inserted in the games, and we can have a more worldwide approach to our software.
GS: Yeah, we were actually talking on the way over here about Tengai Makyou, and those types of games that are really Japan-centric.
JG: You know about Tengai huh?
GS: Of course!
JG: Yeah, I respect anybody who does know it, because it's such a good series.
GS: I've got a specific question for you on that later on.
JG: Oh you do? OK. We'll get back to it then, no problem.
GS: But yeah, Tengai Makyou is a good series. The one I really played was the Kabuki Den one on PC Engine Super CD.
JG: I remember when that came out. I mean, that was widely acclaimed in Japan and unfortunately never made it to the States.
JG: Personally I've tried very hard to get that title to the States. Unfortunately Working Designs bit the dust, and they were the perfect candidate to do that because they really understand that market, so that's too bad.
GS: There's always Gaijin Works.
JG: I’ve talked to Victor and you know I've asked him to do things, and hopefully someday this title will reach the market. I think it will eventually.