Asia 2016Video Coverage

Atsuo Nakayama: Bringing Pac-man Mobile | Casual Connect Video

May 20, 2016 — by David Radd


Asia 2016Video Coverage

Atsuo Nakayama: Bringing Pac-man Mobile | Casual Connect Video

May 20, 2016 — by David Radd

'Without equivalent invention, VR will easily slip off from our current expectation.' - Atsuo NakayamaClick To Tweet

What is the next opportunity to target on the mobile platform? Atsuo Nakayama, General Manager for Namco Studios, Singapore, estimates that it will be mobile game ads and VR. Looking back at the broad history of tech hype, Atsuo gave exciting insights into the future. Atsuo explained, “Developers want to make something exciting. However, because of the implementation of the in-app purchase sometimes it deteriorates the gaming experience itself. One of the options is the video ad.” In-app advertising needs to be used carefully. To learn more of Atsuo’s insights, tune in below.


Atsuo Nakayama is currently general manager of Bandai Namco Studios Singapore, where they’re looking to build up a mobile/VR team. Atsuo was previously the studio head of Bandai Namco Studios Vancouver which created Pac-man 256, Pac-man Bounce and Tap My Katamari, growing to over 20 staff.

Atsuo Nakayama is General Manager at Bandai Namco
Atsuo Nakayama is General Manager at Bandai Namco Singapore

Atsuo got a start in the gaming industry at DeNA. At the mobile developer, they analyzed over 1,000 web-based titles to determine their viability for overseas markets. Atsuo is a huge fan of Japanese development, and wants to use this experience to help Bandai Namco Studios diversify.

For all of their experience as a consultant, in accounting and in HR, Atsuo says they can fulfill many roles on a team, be it M&A, HR, finance, tax, or bizdev. Plus, having analyzed dozens of titles for DeNA and Bandai Namco, they say that they have a broad view of the mobile market over the past five years.

Atsuo has had many proud moments, including being named the top sales representative and publishing their own book. Related to their gaming career, having Pac-man 256 hit 13 million installs in the first month was by far their most exciting moment. “It was amazing moment for me to see hundreds of hundreds people downloaded and played our creation simultaneously,” said Atsuo.

cultivating success

Atsuo loves the fact that their current position allows them to create everything from the team to the end product from scratch. They note that while they aren’t a game creator, they love establishing a space for creators in a special way.

Self-described as a task-oriented type manager, Atsuo wants to have the greatest possible impact on their studio. They want to continue along this career path and strengthen Namco Bandai’s game unit from a business development and creative standpoint.

The past five years have been a challenge for Japanese mobile game studios, notes Atsuo. There have only been a handful of successes and many more failures. Cultivating those hit titles is what will stimulate the whole of the Japanese mobile industry.

gritty without compromise

Atsuo Nakayama featured image
Atsuo Nakayama at the office

Atsuo, while recognizing this attitude is far from typical for a Japanese person, sees passion as being more important for a team than age or experience. That tenacity for approaching a goal is inspiring for Atsuo, who says that the things they’re looking for in a team member are being “gritty without compromise.”

When challenges within the team are a matter of completing a task, Atsuo first clarifies priorities. If the problem is of a personal nature, it’s generally more challenging to solve. Ultimately, Atsuo wants team members to have a natural sense of what is necessary to achieve success, and that’s the hardest thing to find.

how to monetize

Monetization issues are huge for any mobile developer, and Atsuo is cognizant of what works. F2P with IAP/Ads are two things that mobile developers should grow accustomed to, according to Atsuo. They note that most indies use IAP almost without exception, and suggests that premium/ads should be considered, depending on the style of the game.

When considering where monetization is heading in the future, Atsuo says, “The progression of monetization techniques is definitely slower than technology. Premium, ads, subscription and IAP will stay as they are, with gradual adjustment to play style.”

On the VR front, Atsuo feels the traditional IAP method doesn’t work and the immersive playstyle makes any monetization difficult. Solving this will be a matter of experimentation and market analysis. Atsuo will also look out for anything that other companies may try as well.

Touch Emotional Excitement

When testing games, Atsuo has previously used as a resource. As far as how to test, they note that a soft release in limited market is ten times more valuable than any other kind of pre-release test. Atsuo suggests several curves from soft release until main release is the best way to test.

Atsuo notes that having players hit a wall isn’t beneficial to anyone, so there should be different paths for players.

Getting players into the right mindset is key for mobile games. Atsuo notes that having players hit a wall isn’t beneficial to anyone, so there should be different paths for players. If there are non-payment continuous users, small payment users, and heavy payment users all at the same time, they help feed into each other and provide a consistent stream of money.

When a game hits all of its marks and there’s a wave of customers, that’s the best part of the job. “I’m indirectly able to touch their emotional excitement,” Atsuo said.

The Challenges of Monetizing Mobile VR

VR is something that many people think will end up being a huge part of the market going forward, whether it’s on console, PC or mobile. However, Atsuo, thinks that without better ways for players to use VR and monetize it for game makers, it might not reach its potential.

“Just providing high quality and 3D visuals ends up giving a faddish impact in a short while,” says Atsuo. “The innovation of mobile comes not from the visual/quality/game world but from the mobility/convenience/time managed usage of existing game play. Without equivalent invention, VR will easily slip off from our current expectation.”


David Radd

David Radd

David Radd is a staff writer for David loves playing video games about as much as he enjoys writing about them, martial arts and composing his own novels.