[Honey’s Anime Interview] Nanako Higashi & Yuzi Tsutani, Founders of Voltage Inc.

voltage company logo

Since December of 2006, Voltage Inc. has been bringing mobile phone users the joy of otome games that have the quality of a console game with the convenience of accessibility that a smartphone allows. The company has quickly grown and gone global with their first release outside of Japan, Pirates in Love, which was released in July of 2011 and since then, Voltage has gained a huge library of games available across the world.

In fact, the success of their Japanese games has allowed them to create a new studio in San Francisco aimed at producing games specifically for Western players that include local settings and culture. With such a promising future, Honey’s definitely wanted to know what the founders of the company are planning.

Luckily, Honey’s had the amazing opportunity to sit down and ask Nanako Higashi (Founder and Vice Chairperson) and Yuzi Tsutani (Founder and CEO) a few questions about Voltage Inc. while at this year’s Anime Expo.

Check out what was said below and be sure to check out Voltage and their games.

Voltage Inc.

Enjoy!


from Voltage Inc Yuzi and Nana

Honey's Anime:
-- Voltage has a huge library of titles in Japan, how do you decide which titles to bring over to the Western World?

Nanako Higashi:
We look at the popular titles in Japan and choose based on the setting and characters. We even have a game based in LA!

Honey's Anime:
-- Are any of the stories changed to fit the Western audience?

Nanako Higashi:
They are mostly the same, but sometimes a bit different.

Honey's Anime:
-- As an example, how close of a translation is the Samurai Love Ballad: Party app to the original source?

Nanako Higashi:
It is the same.

Honey's Anime:
-- In the same app, there was recently an event where users were forced to choose sides based on their favorite character and to tweet their support. It was announced that different prizes were awarded once a certain amount of Tweets had been posted and this encouraged players to participate. The event was a huge success and a lot of fun. Does Voltage plan on doing another event in Samurai or any similar types of events in the other games?

Yuzi Tsutani:
The first Samurai has done very well in America, so we now have a second one. We are unsure about the events and will get back to you on that.

from Voltage Inc Samrai LB TOP

Honey's Anime:
-- In many of the special timed events occurring in Voltage’s games, not all of the boys are available. Will this change later or will only the most popular choices be the only ones participating in the special events?

Nanako Higashi:
It totally depends on each article!

Honey's Anime:
-- Tsutani-san, you are the CEO of Voltage, but you’re also a man. How do you feel about making otome games that are traditionally aimed at women?

Yuzi Tsutani:
Actually, when we started this company we made both female and male games, but we weren’t very successful with male games because there are many big competitors like Square Enix, Capcom, and Konami. So, we shifted and decided to focus on female games which we’ve had a lot of success with.

Honey's Anime:
-- Right now Voltage only creates mobile games, have you ever considered branching out to console systems or PC?

Yuzi Tsutani:
So far we are not planning to, but we are thinking about making a virtual reality game.

Honey's Anime:
-- Do you know which VR headset it will be playable on?

Nanako Higashi:
We are looking at the Samsung Gear VR.

Honey's Anime:
-- Which title would the VR be based around and does Voltage have an anticipated launch date?

Yuzi Tsutani:
We are deciding now. I will let you know as soon as we are
ready to announce!

Honey's Anime:
-- Do you have any plans to expand the American studio to create even more original titles for American players?

Nanako Higashi:
Yes, we want to expand.

Honey's Anime:
-- Will these original series eventually be available in Japan or are they for overseas players only?

Nanako Higashi:
It depends on the title, but basically the users are able to
download SF studio original titles from both App Store and
Google Play.

Now, we have two style of apps: pay to play and free to
play. SF studio released their first free to play style app
“Kisses and Curses” this past February. In the future, we
hope to make more free-to-play type games.

Honey's Anime:
-- How long does it take to bring one of your games overseas? Have there ever been any simultaneous releases?

Yuzi Tsutani:
Usually one year.

Honey's Anime:
-- Is there a reason it takes so long?

Nanako Higashi:
Usually it is the translation. We are trying to get faster.

from Voltage Inc code of love Top

Honey's Anime:
-- Which studio is in charge of the translation and localization?

Yuzi Tsutani:
We have English staff in Japan too, so both.

Honey's Anime:
-- What is the next title Voltage plans to release overseas?

Nanako Higashi:
I think the next title is called Liar.

Yuzi Tsutani:
It’s a mystery solving game. It’s a new type of game for us.

Nanako Higashi:
It was very successful in Japan.

1_Liar~Uncover the Truth~_TOP

Honey's Anime:
-- So does this mean there are different types of puzzles that must be solved? What kind of gameplay does the game have?

Nanako Higashi:
One of the mysteries the player has to solve is whether or not the boys are cheating on the player. The player must discover which of the guys is lying to them. For example, there is a guy obsessed with his mom, there is another guy who has a lot of debt, and you must find evidence and use it to find out if they are lying.

Honey's Anime:
-- With so much success, has Voltage ever thought about creating an anime or live action television drama based on one of the games?

Nanako Higashi:
Yes! If we have the chance.

Yuzi Tsutani:
Yeah, we are thinking about it.

Honey's Anime:
-- What studio would Voltage want to work with to make this happen?

Yuzi Tsutani:
We would want to make it ourselves with a collaboration with another studio, but we are not sure at this time. Right now we are discussing which title would work best.

Nanako Higashi:
Right now, I think smartphones or mobile devices are the best way for everyone to interact with our stories. We would like to branch out if given a chance and a bigger budget.

Yuzi Tsutani:
Actually, we created a different story game recently in the last couple of years. The first game was bad, the second one was not good, and the third one is finally getting positive feedback.

Nanako Higashi:
It’s a suspense game.

Honey's Anime:
-- On the subject of different genres, has Voltage ever considered putting out a Yaoi or Boys Love title now that it is becoming more popular in the United States and many otome game players also love yaoi?

Yuzi Tsutani:
Hmmm, I am not sure. Our main users are women and SF studio original titles have attractive female character to fall
in love with.

Nanako Higashi:
Yes! In our AmeMix line we do!

1_Gangsters in Love_image

Honey's Anime:
-- Is this an option that will be included in future games?

Nanako Higashi:
Yes! So in the future, we may make some Boys Love games, but we are unsure at this moment.

Final Thoughts

Everyone here at Honey’s Anime would like to thank Higashi-san and Tsutani-san for their time and answering our questions! The experience was fun and it looks like Voltage will be around for quite some time. Their new title Liar will be coming out soon so be sure to check it out as well as their other games such as Samurai Love Ballad: Party, Gangsters in Love, and the many others available on iTunes and the Google Play store.

Nikki Flores

Writer

Author: Nikki Flores

You may know me by my witty and excellent prose, but I assure you there is a real person underneath this brilliant exterior. As a graduate of Purdue University with a degree in English Literature and a minor in Medieval and Renaissance Studies, I traveled to Okinawa, Japan in search of the One Piece. Together my crew consisting of a white dog named Yuki, an evil cat named Kyubei, the wise feline Pickles, and my ever supportive husband Aaron, we travel the globe seeking life’s greatest treasures. Oh, and I’m sure one day I’ll eventually meet Trafalgar Law in the New World. I hope. Please? *pout*

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