The meeting room had been chilled slightly to 19 degrees, so the attendees wouldn’t be falling asleep after their delightful lunch, at our expense and I’m not sure why, thought Hideki. After all, these people are coming to take our IP and do god-knows-what with them.
His inner monologue continued as he was reminded of more pressing matters: I’ve got to somehow come up with another $240K worth of revenue to meet this year’s targets, with some old games and retro titles that nobody wants, and these vultures are swooping in, trying to pick us off? This is some maiden masher bullshit.
There was no more time to rant as he opened the door and let the ‘vultures’ into the room with Dapi and Charles bringing up the rear. Dapi was already tired of the chit chat, especially with a translator in-between. It wasn’t fun. He just wanted to sit in the park and watch the children play; yesterday had been quite interesting: he observed a child running after pigeons, shouting loudly as he stumbled, more than anything, towards them. What was he thinking? Was he trying to catch them or scare them? Was it a power play? What was the game here? How do you win?
“Again, welcome to our office,” said Hideki as he beckoned warmly and directed everyone to sit, in a 3vs3 layout, with their translator facing Charles in the middle.
The foreigners reached into their bags and carefully retrieved three boxes, placing them on the table, then simultaneously sliding them forward towards the bemused trio.
Hideki was about to grab the box in front of him when he felt a hand approaching. His instinct was to slap it away but as he recognised it belonged to Charles he wanted to grab it and break his fingers, however he then remembered there was a custom here to follow; that’s what Charles was trying to remind him of, and he hated the hapless Frenchman even more.
Hideki took out his business card and with both hands placed it onto his forehead, then his lips, and then down to the silk wrapped box, laying it in the centre. Charles and Dapi followed, Dapi almost forgetting the second step. The foreign guests observed the three business cards and then took them with both hands, reading them intently. Like many traditions, it was just going through a motion, they quietly mouthed the information on the card, the names and email addresses and it wasn’t at all clear that they mentally digested what had been read, not that a human being can read a QR code.
“So, let’s get down to business. I understand you would like to use Brooklyn Bob, Bubbies and MacKilter in your mobile game, is that right?”
“That’s right, we’re big fans and we want to turn our fans into fans of yours, too. We could introduce them as strong characters for say, a month.”
As the two translators spoke to each other, it was like watching twins in a bedsheet tent, using their own secret language. Hideki was always suspicious that Charles was adding or hiding something, so he studied the foreigners’ body language very carefully, without consciousness of his own.
“One month? What happens after that? Do you remove the characters from the game?”
“Not at all, the players will keep them, it’s just they won’t be relevant any more, our games have newer and stronger characters every month.”
“So you mean another IP will take our place. Isn’t that going to damage our IP?”
“Not really, all the players know this is how the game works, guest IPs are like fashion trends, they can’t stay new for long, but this is leveraged by pleasant memories, and brand recognition. It’s like when you keep your favourite jacket, even when it’s old and you wouldn’t wear it in public. You still love it, right?”
Hideki was marvelled by this translation, if he was being honest with himself, and a little charmed, as he remembered the Shenmue jacket he kept in a box above his wardrobe, literally only tried once, with a smile and a few punches to the mirror, and then lovingly folded and stored away.
Then he remembered his mission, and felt around for that thumbtack in his pocket. He pressed it a little into the fabric so he could feel the point pressing into his thigh.
“Interesting. Can you tell us which other companies are lined up?”
“I’m sure you understand, due to legal reasons, we can’t precise, but due to our global success, we can assure you that all the companies producing major fighting game titles have expressed interest. All of them.”
The foreigners looked very confident, almost smug. This was not a good negotiation starter. Hideki reached for the thumbtack and pushed it hard into his thigh. The spasm caused his leg to jerk and he let it kick Charles hard in the ankle. The yelps of pain shocked and confused the foreigners but gave him the valuable time to think.
“I’m so sorry, I have a condition but the company is allowing me to continue to work, as part of our Corporate Social Responsibility charter, it’s really commendable, don’t you think so? Do you have anyone with disabilities working at your company?”
The foreigners looked at each other. They were certainly at a loss. This was preferable.
“It’s an ultra-modern way of working, which our audience respects us for, as we strive to be a modern company and garner the respect of our customers and our business partners. Anyway, enough about that, let’s take a look at your offer.”
“Right, yes, so, we would like to use the three characters with our opening offer of half a million USD.”
Hideki stamped down on where he imagined Charles’ foot would be, but Charles had pushed his legs together to stay as far away as possible, at the expense of his testicles getting squished like two new potatoes in a hard drive case.
Hideki’s mind was racing. This would meet his target for the year, but a negotiation is supposed to start with a number and then go up!
“Thank you for the gracious offer, now we took a look at what happens in your game and sometimes you have four, five or even six characters for a collaboration event. Would you be interested in two more characters for say… point seven million?”
His tight fitting suit, not really hiding his beer belly, also reminded Charles of how he once widened the cartridge slot of his Japanese Super Famicom with a file, so the American Super Nintendo cartridge would fit inside. There was something lewd about this and his wife’s face suddenly popped into his head but before he could grin and his erection fully stood, he recalled the birth of his first child and it wilted away.
The foreigners were all thinking that the two staff members in front of them had health, if not mental problems, and the third was a typical creative, head in the clouds, just not paying attention. Eventually they settled on four characters for 1.4M. They would launch in six months, during which time they would promote the event on various channels as much as with previous, positively representing the IP in game storylines with no references to Brooklyn Bob’s casual sexism but a concession that Bubbie’s breasts would jiggle with a panty shot viewable in two frames plus a guarantee that at least Bob wouldn’t be obsolete for at least 3 months. With a happy ending, the two parties made ambiguous conclusions that they were open to a future negotiation to use the foreign IP in one of GAFY’s games, alongside Brooklyn Bob.
Fat chance, chuckled Hideki to himself, as they all got in the taxi to go to Karaoke to get smashed. Boss will be ecstatic! With the revenue so far above target, I’m sure to get a good bonus.
“That went well,” wrote Foreigner #1 to Foreigner #2 (no, not the translator), as he sat opposite Charles. “Indeed,” she replied, holding up her phone so Charles couldn’t read it, “totally shocked they didn’t ask for royalties, boss will be over the moon!”
Alan aka “Gunsmith” writes fiction, this is fiction. Go to orochinagi.com for real game articles, then come back here for more fiction!