Naruto Online is a new, massive multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG) based on the popular manga and anime franchise. Armed with the only officially licensed online RPG for the brand, Oasis Games has the unique opportunity to bring this ninja-fighting universe to life. The game is now available for browser play on PC and Mac.
The Naruto manga, written and illustrated by Masashi Kishimoto, has sold over 200 million copies in 35 countries. Combined with multiple Naruto films, novels and 220 episodes of the popular anime still running on TV and streaming services, Naruto ranks among the top anime franchises in history.
Martho Ghariani, who oversees business development for Oasis Games, the first publishing partner of Sony Computer Entertainment Shanghai, explains the advantages and challenges of appealing to such a large, existing fan base.
What was it about the Naruto franchise that attracted your company to this project?
This one is the easiest to answer! For fans of Naruto and anime-lovers in general, Naruto has been something of a household name that most of us grew up with. From a personal level, we’re all huge fans of the series and are very excited to be part of a new chapter in Naruto gaming. From a publisher’s point of view, a series with a fan base as huge as this one, well, how many series can claim that? It’s a great starting position for a game, with an enormous potential. To have this rare chance to get the publishing rights for the world’s first MMORPG set in the universe of Naruto, and with Naruto Online having acquired the official license acquired from Bandai Namco, the answer was obvious for us: we can’t miss out on this!
How is Oasis Games marketing to the existing anime and manga fanbase for Naruto?
Naruto Online is indeed something different in terms of being an existing series, with longtime fans in every nook and corner of the world. You can imagine the expectations they will have for any Naruto game, let alone one in a completely new genre. That’s why we want to emphasize all of those parts which will make players of Naruto Online feel at home right away: having the original Japanese voice actors as well as footage of the original anime, the chance to visit all the landmark locations of the series and reenact all the famous battle scenes, marked by the faithfulness both to the series’ story line as well as to the entire universe of Naruto. What we want players to know is they’re getting the best of both worlds: everything that the fans expect of a Naruto installment while also the chance to make their own choices, alone or together with other players, featuring their own avatar alongside Naruto and his friends.
For those who aren’t familiar with the Naruto brand, what efforts, if any, are being made to attract newcomers to Naruto Online?
One way of answering this question would be to point toward the quality of the game, which in and of itself is very high and offers a level of depth of gameplay that would be interesting to try out even if it wasn’t set in the world of Naruto (examples include the many varied ways of setting up your formation of Ninja Teams, changing strategies, the combo-system etc.) So even for newcomers to the series or fans of the genre in general there’s enough to dive into. With a foundation like this, and Naruto added to the equation, for us as a publisher to reach out via anime networks and game publications, in addition to exciting initiatives yet to be announced, we feel confident we will pique the interest players from any kind of background.
Why do you feel that an MMORPG turn-based browser-game would be the best way for fans to explore the world of Naruto?
If you look at the long line of games out since the days of the GameCube, the majority if not all of them are single player or multi-player fighting games. While this fits the series perfectly, with Naruto Online, you get to experience the anime from a different and refreshing new angle, as well as the scope and size of our game that is set for the long-term. Of course, the fights are still there (and then some!), but at the same time the MMORPG turn-based genre creates a whole new space full of exciting possibilities, meaning a more tactical dimension to the fights, as well as a huge social component offered through the chance to play together with players (and fellow Naruto fans) all over the world in a lively and ever-changing game world.
What sets Naruto Online apart from similar titles?
When you compare Naruto Online to other online titles, we of course benefit greatly from the fact a lot of the original Naruto anime is in there, and so it offers many elements that made the series such a hit. Aside from this, Naruto Online offers so many different game modes, both single and multi-player, that gaming fans of every type will find something they like. When compared to other Naruto games, one of the most thrilling parts of the game is the fact that it features five completely new characters for the player to choose from, based on the elements of water, fire, wind, earth and lightning. These exclusive additions to the world of Naruto is something which will definitely attract fans.