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Imageepoch CEO's Most Influential RPG Was...

RPG powerhouse CEO Ryoei Mikage talks about influences and sales targets in recent interview.

Imageepoch CEO Ryoei Mikage.

Imageepoch is a major player in the RPG genre. It seems that the studio got its start from a highly regarded classic of the genre.

In an interview featured in the latest Gemaga (a portion of the interview was posted at 4Gamer today), CEO Ryoei Mikage recalled his first time visiting a game shop. It just so happened that this was on Final Fantasy VII's release date. The game was recommended to him by the clerk. He purchased it and played four days straight without sleep.

"I seriously don't think I slept," said Mikage. "If it weren't for this time, I'd probably be doing something else."

Final Fantasy VII wasn't Mikage's first game, but it was pretty close. He'd gone to the shop to find something new to play because he'd been playing Myst and didn't find it too interesting. Myst was the first game he played on his father's newly bought PlayStation.

He was only allowed to play Myst because he'd just finished his exams. Mikage's mom was apparently quite strict. His father brought Dragon Quest IV home one day but his mom referred to it as a "tool that will make your head bad" and threw it away, something that Mikage jokes caused him trauma.

Yes, Mikage was quite young when Final Fantasy VII was released. Even though he's CEO of Imageepoch, he's just 29 years old. He got started in the industry working as a part time debugger at Koei during his third year of high school. In 2004, he joined Namco Tales Studio, then formed Imageepoch on August 13 of that year On June 9, 2006, he took Imageepoch public.

Also in the interview, Mikage shared some of his insights into game sales. His strategy with Imageepoch, which just released its first self-published game through PSP's Final Promise Story, is to first make games that sell 150,000 copies. FPS falls into this category. He hopes to release three games in this category before shifting to a higher target of three games that sell 300,000 units each. This shift is planned for three years from now.

Looking at recent sales data, the latter target is a difficult goal. Mikage noted that in the 1990s, each year would see at least three RPGs sell over 300,000 units. Nowadays, you'll get maybe one game every two or three years that sells a million copies, and one game every couple of years that sells 500,000 copies. Those games that once sold 300,000 units are now selling under 100,000 units.

Mikage wants to make Imageepoch into a company that produces every year three games that sell 300,000 units. This is his five year target for the company.

Final Promise Story, released last week for the PSP.

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