fhw.jpg"I'm Taiwanese, but I was born in Japan," begins Seigai Kou. Raised in Japan until he was about 10 years old, he grew up playing Super Mario Bros. and other Famicom games. During that time, he developed a love of video games that would stay with him through his family's return to Taiwan and propel him to seek employment in the Japanese video game industry as an adult. Now he's the CEO of Flyhigh Works, a company focused on localizing and publishing games for the Japanese digital download market.

Kou started his game industry career as a programmer before founding Flyhigh Works in April 2011, right after the big earthquake. "I always knew that I wanted to be a CEO at some point," he says. "But at first I felt like I lacked experience, so I wanted to study a bit more. Then, in 2011, I felt like the time was right. The 3DS had just come out and 3DS downloadable software was just getting started."

Downloadable software for the 3DS has been the cornerstone of Flyhigh Works' business, though they now also publish games for the Vita and are considering expanding to the PS4. Since Flyhigh Works is a small company, though, he has no plans to try to expand into packaged software. "Publishing packaged games requires a lot of money," he says, "but as long as you give it your all you can put out a downloadable game."

Flyhigh Works specializes in localizations and ports for the Japanese handheld downloadable software market. Kou says that pretty much everything they publish is either a localized game from overseas or a smartphone game that caught his eye. "This might sound a little strange, but we basically only publish games that I try and enjoy," he says. "I'm asking people to give us money for the games we're publishing, and if I don't understand what makes the game interesting, I can't explain it to them."

This ties directly into Kou's marketing philosophy. He believes that the best PR is forming a bond of trust with customers by publishing only top quality content. "If someone becomes the fan of a company, then won't they just buy the things that company sells?" he asks. "That's what I want. If people are saying things like, 'Flyhigh Works publishes lots of hits,' word will spread and we'll gain customers' trust." Flyhigh Works is a small enough publisher that they can't afford to take out magazine ads or TV commercials for their games, but they do things like producing Japanese language trailers and spreading word via social media.

Kou is also serious about providing good localizations for the games they publish. "I myself am bilingual in Japanese and Chinese, with a little bit of English, so it's something I really care about," he says. "If a Japanese player looks at something we've translated and says, 'What is this?' then we've failed. I don't want the localization to come off like a machine translation."

Being bilingual myself, I can relate; humor is the hardest thing to translate. Culture has a big impact on what seems funny and how humor is delivered, which means jokes sometimes need to change drastically for a localization to sound natural. Kou is aware of this, but also cognizant of the need to preserve as much of the original material as possible. "A bad localization can take an interesting game and make it uninteresting," he says. "I want to do everything in our power to do it right while respecting the games we're localizing."

When asked about plans for the future expansion of Flyhigh Works, Kou made it clear that he doesn't want to stretch the company too thin. Being choosy about which games to publish has worked out so far, so he doesn't have plans to change course now. "You can see it in our booth [at Tokyo Game Show]," he says. "It's small, but packed with interesting-looking games. That's the kind of company I want Flyhigh Works to be."

Editor's note: This interview was originally conducted in Japanese.