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.