This year’s BitSummit in Kyoto wasn’t just a celebration of all things indie gaming, it was also the coming out party for the new Japan-based indie publisher Dangen Entertainment. Formed by a group of ex-pats who have been embedded in the Japanese games industry for many years – working at places like Capcom, Grasshopper Manufacture, Q-Games and Playism – Dangen is the latest small-scale publisher to emerge focused solely on indies.
That’s becoming more and more common in the West, but in Dangen’s case, they’re based in Japan and largely – but not exclusively – focused on publishing into the Japanese market. It’s an interesting role to tackle right now, because Japan is most definitely in the midst of significant change. In some ways it’s simply evolving with the times, but in others, outside forces and influences are coming to bear, and that’s pretty interesting. Japan, after all, was once the sun around which all other gaming planets orbited. It was a simply huge market; so large it barely even noticed anything outside its own unique ecosystem. Fast forward to now, and that isn’t the case anymore – while Japan is still very much its own world, it’s still feeling the tug of those other celestial bodies a little more. Tastes are changing, (some) entrenched ideas are dissipating and markets are in flux.