Harvest Moon Split With Marvelous Was a “Big Surprise” for Natsume

Natsume has been developing new Harvest Moon games in-house since they broke up with Marvelous, the original developers of the series in Japan (known as Bokujo Monogatari in Japanese). Since then, many fans still get confused over why there are seemingly two major farming / life simulation franchises.

To clarify things a bit, Marvelous Japan decided to start using XSEED Games, their own localization studio, to handle translation and publishing duties for the games in the west. This was a problem as Natsume owns the trademark for the game in the west, so XSEED started using “Story of Seasons” instead. To avoid letting the trademark go, Natsume decided to start developing new games themselves under the two-decade-plus Harvest Moon brand.

This all happened back in 2014 and we haven’t really had insight as to what things were like on the backend, until now. Natsume CEO Hiro Maekawa reflected (via Gamesindustry.biz) on the events, saying that it was a “big surprise” and even was “really scary” for the company. He said:

“That was a big surprise to us, especially to me. It was a really scary thing to me because we’d spent time and effort to establish a no-name farming simulation game to become one of the best-known farming simulation games for the entire family. We had tons of loyal Harvest Moon fans, but we couldn’t simply say to those loyal fans that there’s no Harvest Moon in the future. Fortunately, we learned and accumulated lots of know-how as to what Harvest Moon fans like and what makes them happy by localizing and publishing Harvest Moon games for the past 16 years, so we took that goodbye as a good opportunity for us, based upon our own experience, to take this franchise to the next step so we could continue to make all Harvest Moon fans very happy.”

The company’s next game, Harvest Moon: Light of Hope, is the first to be released on the Nintendo Switch. Maekawa notes this is due to fan feedback asking for a Switch version:

“We always listen to what consumers say, and what the media says. That’s a very important hint, or inspiration to us on what we should do next. It’s a natural process. [Our customers] are losing their interest in 3DS titles as well, simply because of Switch. Everybody’s talking about Switch, Switch, Switch!”

“Nintendo has now shifted their energy to Switch. At this point, I don’t think they are interested in DS titles. And our customers aren’t interested in DS titles either. They are losing their interest in 3DS titles as well, simply because of Switch. Everybody’s talking about Switch, Switch, Switch! So Switch will be not only the next big handheld, but also a console platform. Either way.”

Harvest Moon 3D: A New Beginning was the last game to be published under Natsume back in 2012, with Marvelous themselves handling the European publishing duties.

Brandon Orselli

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Big Papa Overlord at Niche Gamer. Italian. Dad. Outlaw fighting for a better game industry. I also write about music, food, & beer. Also an IT guy.

  • Story of season >>> New Harvest Moon.
    seeing a Rune factory revival one day could be nice too….

  • bomblord

    If they only had a competent art team.

  • Malcolm_Ecks

    Both Series have been kinda shit for a while tbh. Stardew and Rune Factory are straight up better games.

  • Travis Touchdown

    >Stardew

    Pfft. No.

    Rune Factory was pretty great, though.

  • Travis Touchdown

    I’m sure a new Rune Factory is in the cards. They just have to regroup after that bankruptcy.

    Like THQ and Darksiders III.

  • Fear Me I Am Free

    I’m really enjoying Trio of Towns so far.

  • BanBrado

    Stardew is shit but i’ll agree Rune Factory has consistently been way better than either series. Hope it gets revived someday.

  • FrostFoxy

    I really enjoyed the Rune Factory games and have to pick up Trio of Town, heard it was really good. But I’m worried that the next Rune Factory and Story of Seasons may end up on Switch. We’re a multiple DS household, I can’t afford that many Switches. ;)

  • Tubsiwub

    So basically, anything after Harvest Moon 3D should be avoided when compared to Story of Seasons…?

    ‘kay.

  • Zombie_Barioth

    “We had tons of loyal Harvest Moon fans, but we couldn’t simply say
    to those loyal fans that there’s no Harvest Moon in the future.”

    Which is false, because the series they’ve been localizing as Harvest Moon wasn’t going away, it was continuing under a new brand. I don’t blame them for wanting to re-use the brand, but there was nothing stopping Natsume from telling fans the truth.

  • Dawn Blast

    Eh i think it’s more they kinda are married to the art style.

  • Phasmatis75

    The development house is gone gone, but the publisher in Japan hired the majority of the studio back on. They made Popocrisis, and it has been rumored they’re working on a Rune Factory 5 for awhile now.

  • Phasmatis75

    The last two Harvest Moon titles have been horrible minecraft esk games. Now after Stardew Valley and Trio of Towns has done extremely well they’re going back to classic formula.

  • Phasmatis75

    I hear journalists and die hard Nintendo fanboys going “Switch is life” but the average consumer has let it go the way of the Wii. Even publishers are starting to get hesitant about putting their games on the Switch despite the earlier hype.

    Frankly I don’t get what the hype is about. The Switch is a pretty bad piece of technology. Underpowered, quality control issues, software issues, doesn’t charge properly when docked, and essentially no games. Before Nintendo went full SJW censorship that was okay with me. Their games were unique enough to warrant the purchase, but everything is culturalized now, they brag about censorship. With so few games, so weak technology, so many hardware issues, there really isn’t much of any rational reason to get a switch. The limited supply is all that’s keeping demand going and demand trickled out in March for a couple months, then came up slightly (it’s still pathetic and the PS4 is back on top despite being out forever and in great supply).

    Dunno, but a lot of people are probably going to look foolish in 2-3 years when the publishers quietly drop development of several titles. Nintendo is weird. People will buy the console, realize they made a mistake and then not buy any games.

  • Zombie_Barioth

    I know, and they confused the shit out of the casual/mainstream fans in the process.

    There were a lot of “not like the previous games” type reviews.

    I don’t think Stardew Valley and Trio of Towns have much to do with it, they just realized people don’t want that.

    They got a little overconfident and tried to reinvent the wheel.

  • Phasmatis75

    Agreed a bit. I think it was more they had this license and they didn’t want to throw away their top grosser, so they decided to make a new one. Free from having to merely localize they decided to implement new features and copy what was popular. It failed miserably of course.

    Then Stardew Valley and Trio of Towns continued to make a lot of money. Stardew valley being a classic harvest moon game, and they took notice. Now that they know classic harvest moon will sell they’re making classic harvest moon.

    Companies are frankly as stupid as they are greedy at this point.

  • Boogieman

    Stardew Valley sucks dude.

  • Malcolm_Ecks

    Its miles better than Story of Seasons and Harvest Moon.