From Sega Retro
Revision as of 08:38, 27 May 2012 by Black Squirrel
Working Designs was an American video game publisher that specialized in the localization of Japanese console role-playing games, strategy video games and top-down shooters for various video game platforms.
Formed in Redding, California by programmer Todd Mark and venture capitalist Sylvia Schmitt in 1986, Working Designs prided itself on top-quality translations and publishing picks of Japanese games that would have otherwise never seen release outside of Japan. Though the company had published many 'cult hits', it was known best to fans as the long-time exclusive US publisher of the Lunar series.
The company was one of the few game publishers that attempted to bridge the cultural gap between the Japanese and American video game industries during the 1990s with an eclectic selection of releases from various genres, and was also one of the earliest American publishers to make use of the CD-ROM format for full, spoken English dialogue in their products at a time when voice acting was not a common feature in most mainstream games.
The company released some of their games with premium packaging for higher prices. They applied foil stamps and extensive artwork to their packaging and supplied games with full color manuals with anime artwork and concept art at a time when many game manuals for Western releases were in greyscale. Also, every manual came with a written letter, describing the translation process and procedure of their games, usually found on the last page of the manual. Every edition of these notes closed with the signature phrase, "We're nothing without you!"
Working Designs/Bernie Stolar Friction
Working Designs published games for the Sega CD and TurboGrafx-16/CD due to the appeal of the CD medium, instead of the more popular cartridge-based Super Nintendo Entertainment System and Sega Genesis. When the Sony PlayStation and Sega Saturn were released, company president Victor Ireland met with then-President of SCEA Bernie Stolar to discuss translating and publishing Sony's Japanese launch SRPG Arc the Lad. Stolar outright refused Ireland, saying that RPGs were not the future, and said that WD's games didn't help the Sega CD and TGCD. This sparked a feud between Ireland and Stolar, and Ireland resigned his company to making Sega Saturn games, as the Nintendo 64 was considered to be too expensive to consider publishing on.
Working Designs often changed postponed releases from upwards of a year or more. The final Sega Saturn game released in the US, Magic Knight Rayearth, was unintentionally delayed for over three years. When Sony let go of Stolar, and Sega hired him, Ireland finished up his Saturn projects and moved the company to the PlayStation. Ireland's feud with Stolar led them to ignore Sega's Dreamcast console in favor of the PlayStation 2, but friction with Sony's approval process was starting to cost Working Designs money.