Spare a thought for Chris Pranger today, who has found himself out of a job this week after he criticized certain Nintendo fans and their efforts go get games localized in the West.
Pranger had worked at Nintendo’s Treehouse division, a section of the company devoted to localizing games for release in the West. Localization is an area where Nintendo has drawn plenty of ire from fans over the years, with a number of standout titles never making their way outside of Japan. It was fans’ complaints about the practice that Pranger picked up on in comments made during a small gaming podcast earlier this month.
Speaking on the Part Time Gamers podcast on August 3rd, Pranger discussed how fans react when Nintendo decides not to localize certain games. Specific titles mentioned include Captain Rainbow and the Xenoblade Chronicles.
“They just say the classic, ‘Why do you hate money? Why do you hate money, Nintendo?'”, Pranger said, adopting a mocking stereotypical impression of a gamer’s voice. “And it’s like, ‘What are you talking about?'”
“We’re trying to make… obviously it has to make calculated risks, but at the same time one of those risks… and I mean they’ll bring up games that are very Japanese games, like Captain Rainbow for instance.
“They” bring that up like, ‘Look how many people want this. Don’t you want money?’, and we’ll be like, ‘Yeah we do want money, which is why we know it’s a colossal waste if we ever try to localize that in this current market, because look at you people! You don’t make up a big enough group.'”
Speaking specifically about Xenoblade Chronicles, Monolith Soft’s Wii-exclusive RPG which finally saw a release in the West after fans placed pressure on Nintendo, Pranger said: “You look at something like even Xenoblade Chronicles. People love that game you know, within a certain group. [But] that game is not the type of game that pulls in enough to justify the costs on that.”
Xenoblade Chronicles was only localized after Nintendo of Europe took the risk and agreed to localize it themselves.
“So that’s like, we got it in the States by luck, that [Nintendo of Europe] decided, ‘Oh, we’ll take the fall. We’ll localise that.’ Okay, ’cause someone is going to have to eat the costs somewhere, because that game is guaranteed to not sell enough to justify how big that game is. You know, hundreds of hours, all voiced. That’s a lot of money that goes into that,” Pranger said.
Confirming his firing by Nintendo on Twitter, Pranger later followed up with a long post on Facebook, offering his thoughts for what had happened and expressing his deep regret. It makes for emotional reading.
Hello friends and family. As many of you have probably seen, I am no longer at Nintendo. I was terminated this week due to a podcast appearance I made last Monday. It was a stupid judgment call on my part and ultimately it cost me far more than I could have imagined.
I’ve lost the only job I really knew or ever intended to know. Since leaving high school, I’ve had a singular goal in terms of a career. It got me through college and pushed me through the difficult time immediately after college where I learned just how crippling it was to have an English degree in the job market. I applied for 6 years straight for my job. Even before that, I’d made my entire identity around my hope to one day have this perfect job. I was mocked here and there as “Nintendo Boy” from maybe middle school on, but I thought that if I succeeded, it’d all be worth it.
And now it’s gone and I honestly don’t know how to handle myself. A central part of my personality revolves around Nintendo. Anything that I’ve decorated with around my house has a very clear Nintendo theme. My shirts and jackets overwhelmingly show that as well. Being able to finally feel at home at a job is a feeling I can’t easily quantify. I was the guy who’d see a hastily-discarded paper towel in the men’s room and pick it up, saying to myself, “This is my home, and I will keep it clean.”
If we’re being honest, I’m scared. Very scared. I haven’t been without a job for over 4 years, and even then it was during the weird “just exiting college” part of life that everyone goes through. And back then, I was still down in Oregon near family. Living in Washington has struggled to feel normal, but I was grounded in my job. It was where I happily spent my time and saw all of my friends. With that unstuck, Washington suddenly feels alien and empty all over again.
I look around my house and see images of my son and feel such intense shame and crippling sadness. How do I share this part of my life with him? How do I cope knowing that I’ve failed him? Even before this I’d been struggling to want to provide better for him and my wife, knowing that due to my student loans, I wouldn’t be entirely debt-free until I turned 40. That’s not a hyperbole either. I’m just now barely under $100,000 in student debt and my last payment is scheduled for the same year that I turn 40. “That student debt is intimidating, but it’s worth it for the end result.” I’ve undone my end result.
I spent the last week in a miserable place once the podcast began getting coverage. I was instantly scared when a coworker poked me and said, “Hey, you’re on GoNintendo.” Suddenly article after article began appearing in game sites of all languages. Comments sections painted me as an idiot and the like. My Twitter started giving me hourly reminders from people meaning well and otherwise. It seemed unthinkable that I’d be let go for a single moment of poor judgment and my own misunderstandings, but here we are.
Obviously, as I’m writing this at 4 am, I don’t think I have a clear goal. All I can think of is that there’s so much I’ve put at risk. I know that if I can’t find a job at least as good as this one, I won’t be able to provide for my family. I’ve lost them their health coverage and their security. I also know that I’ve probably lost a good deal of my friends, just because I know how hard it can be to stay in touch with someone when the convenience of proximity is lost.
I’m so sorry to everyone. I’ve failed you. You believed in me and supported me and trusted me and I’ve failed you. I’ve failed me.