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TGS 2009: Why Epic Games briefly gave up on Gears of War 2's Japanese release


"Our experience with the first Gears of War was very frustrating," Dr. Michael Capps said at his Gears of War panel at Tokyo Game Show. He noted that translating into Japanese is no problem, but passing the censors? "Huge problem," echoing the sentiments of Square Enix's Yoichi Wada yesterday. Essentially, Epic was forced into making two different games: "Japan version and 'rest of the world' version'" A separate team was needed in customizing content and removing much of the violence featured in the game. "Every Title Update, and all Downloadable content, had to be done twice."

In spite of all the effort, Japanese sales of the first GoW represented "less than 1% of Gears sales worldwide," prompting Epic Games to simply give up on working on a Japanese version of the sequel. "We could never make a version for Japan that would fit our creative vision," Capps said, content with avoiding a Japanese release of GoW2.

"But our fans in Japan were very vocal about playing the new game." According to Capps, about 50,000 Japanese fans in Japan imported the game from America. With encouragement from Microsoft Japan, the team discovered that censorship had become a bit more lax since the release of the first game. Development ended, with a Japanese release of GoW2 in July, over half a year after the US release. Capps was happy with getting the critical reception in Japan, but the trials of the Gears of War franchise show the continuing problem of games censorship in Japan.

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