As a longtime fan of Japanese console RPGs, the announcement yesterday that Working Designs has closed down really … well, sucks. They specialized in localizing interesting and overlooked titles for the US market, especially RPGs, and I was always impressed with the care and quality they put in their work. They raised the standard of quality considerably, both in localization and packaging, and I’m sad to see them go.
From the announcement, it looks like the proverbial straw was approval battles with SCEA (the Sony office that manage their North American consoles) over Goemon. SCEA has been known to make approval very difficult or impossible for niche/2D releases, including previous Working Designs titles.
I have to say I’m disturbed by this apparant ‘flashiness over quality’ preference at the licensing level. It’s one thing if a developer chooses graphics over gameplay, but rejecting quality games like Growlanser and Viewtiful Joe strikes me as a form of market censorship that the industry doesn’t really need. If anything, we need someone filtering out games like MTV’s Celebrity Deathmatch instead.