I don’t usually do opinion articles too much nowadays, and I’ve seldom done them to outright call out or express concerns with a company. But today, I can’t help but feel a bit irked and motivated to just express my honest thoughts and concerns on a company I want to love, but can’t seem to due to how much mismanagement and weirdness is going on.
Yes, I’m talking about Dispatch Games, the US publishers behind some really excellent titles from City Connection. From Psyvariar, to Penguin Wars, this company has published some of City Connection’s recent output of obscure gems, bringing these games west and in retail form for all to enjoy, and I dig that idea. But unfortunately, while they did OK with those games and Soldam, they haven’t been doing well with anything after that point, save for a brief time where they had the import Collector version of Jajamaru Collection in stock: I bought it from them and got it in a very timely fashion, but was promised that their exclusive Jajamaru Dispatch Games Coin would ship out in a few months separate from the game.
It’s May 2020, and I still don’t have my coin. But that’s not the biggest thing to worry about, but rather, where they stand on some individual, upcoming game releases. Radirgy Swag, Game Tengoku Paradise Mix, and Japanese Rail Sim are all games Dispatch took up the task of localizing and releasing into English, all with special editions.
As of today, Not a single one has launched. Customers on their Twitter and Facebook pages are very unhappy, with this being some of the more recent comments from the Facebook side of things:
So what exactly is the deal, and what’s behind the missed dates that are referred to here? Well, it started when a few months ago, DIspatch Games posted a tweet with nothing but an image of a release date: April 21st. This was still long after they promised to release Game Tengoku in December 2019, and Radirgy earlier in the fall: Game Tengoku did end up coming out in Japan in that month, but only published by City Connecction, with no news on the EN version in sight. There was a new listing for Soldam PS4 (shown below) with a ship date of January 2020, but that hasn’t shipped out either.
That tweet I noted with the April release date, was sent out in the midst of all this chaos, around February. Even then, people were rightfully wondering where the games they ordered were: Even with expected delays of CE components that can be common now and then, not even the digital versions of these titles showed up on the Switch eShop, nor would they for the physical standard editions either. For all intents and purposes, Dispatch just poofed into the ether.
Disgruntled fans and onlookers like me weren’t the only ones to note this, as Nintendolife wrote an excellent article on the matter back in March: Basically, it goes over how they did the same deal with Psyvariar Delta and Penguin Wars, and while Penguin Wars did squeak out at retail in 2018, it didn’t hit the eShop until mid 2019, when we reviewed the game. Psyvariar didn’t exist at all outside of a JP release with English support, until around the same time. Both took eons longer than they were supposed to come out to ship, and the company promised better communication. They never improved.
Likewise, after the article I mentioned above came out, Dispatch wasted no time heading to Twitter and their PR list to email people about delays and planned dates for all three games. They also promised more frequent communication and status updates, neither of which have happened outside of a random post about Jaleco IP licensing. I have their whole twitter on notifications, so if they’d tweet to a customer or give an update, I’d know.
As for those dates, the April 21st tease was for Radirgy Swag, which… still isn’t out at all, even digitally. The May 17th date was for Japanese Rail Sim, which is very close to approaching with no hints at the game existing. As for May 5th… That brings us to Game Tengoku, the reason I made this article to begin with.
Why, you may ask? Well today an eShop listing for the game came out, with english support and everything! It’s launching on May 28th, near the end of the month. Only the problem is, Dispatch isn’t publishing the game: This is in contrast to what they did with their other titles, where they were the digital publishers. Instead, It’s self-published by City Connection, who ported the title to Switch to begin with.
All this time. All this waiting. All the length for a physical/digital release from Dispatch Games, and in the end the game launches without them in charge of publishing. City Connection is still getting things done well like the Steam Psikyo ports, but there’s not a peep from the Dispatch side of things, even now. To the customers that keep trying to reach them for info to no avail, this must be an absolute insult, and I honestly figured that I had to try and do something about it. Sure, I’m pretty confident Clarice/City Connection will do a great job with Game Paradise’s US launch, but we still are lacking news on a western physical release. One people ordered almost a year ago by this point! That’s just absurdly ridiculous and continued poor communication.
In fact, I even had my own weird experiences with Dispatch in the past: All the communication I had with them was nice and helpful, but a constant problem I’ve had ever since the beginning of being on their PR list was being unanswered or not getting much of a response on things: I inquired about some of their 2018 games and got no answers at all, and it took a few pokes to get clearance to review the two games from last year, along with one of their Dispatch Mini titles: When I tried reaching out for another mini title, I got no response. One thing is for sure, they just don’t seem to be consistent at replying or updating anyone about anything: I still have no word on my aforementioned coin, nor do I know when that’ll ship out.
As for everyone else, waiting on those collector’s editions? Well… Hopefully this article brings them out of the shadows, once and for all. I want them to do well. I like the choice of games they’re localizing, and City Connection has done some magnificent stuff and is planning some amazing NES collections: It’s just a shame the company in charge of them in the west has had so many delays, unexplained ghostings, and lack of communication with customers who also want to believe in them.
There’s no excuse for so many items on there to not have a status update of some kind. Virus be dammed, all customers really want more than anything would just be a nice update. Limited Run Games provides frequent updates, so why can’t Dispatch? I may just be lacking a coin, but others are out of hundreds of dollars worth of collectors editions with no news in sight: And I just don’t want to see that anymore. I do not believe Dispatch is intending to scam anyone on purpose: but I do feel they are doing a horrible job at communicating to their fans alongside the press or customers trying to reach them for contact. It just seems weird that if it wasn’t for the Nintendo Life article, they wouldn’t have posted that update in March. So if this is what gets them to put out an update in May… So be it. I wanna have faith in you guys, Dispatch.
STATUS UPDATE: 05/21/2020
I have been informed by MomoWatcher on Twitter that Dispatch Games has started to ship out in-stock orders again: They ordered a Switch copy of Penguin Wars and just now, they’ve shipped it out, with it already in transit. As someone who got a shipment from these guys before (Utage set), I can vouch this email and shipping estimate is a lot like mine, so I have faith this is a credible tip. You can see the visual proof below (censored in obvious parts)
Hopefully this is a good sign this deal will be resolved sooner rather than later, in a good way for everyone to get caught up on board: But I still have some doubts due to the nature of The Game Paradise’s release. Here’s hoping this leads to a turnaround.
UPDATE 2: Dispatch Games have come out of the shadows to post another tweet, noting a further announcement tomorrow. Thus, it seems this situation may very well have a happy ending, but it’s again, totally absurd and silly that making this article was even necessary in order to push some sort of response. Again, I mean no ill will from this article: But as a fan of retro games, it’s a really frustrating thing to see situations like this happen.
UPDATE 3: Hopefully the final update I need to make on the matter, I really hope it is. But Dispatch has come out of the shadows, probably due to this article/the attention it stirred, and explained the reasonings behind the delay in two tweets. In short: COVID 19 has delayed a lot of the materials. I still don’t buy that as a reason for not updating customers though, so I’m not letting them off the hook. They promise weekly updates now… So thus, I’m gonna expect they’re weekly.
More frequent, more communication, status updates, twitter answers, etc etc etc. If we fall back into the same cycle of going MIA for months on end, with no results… Then the cycle will repeat and I’ll have to make a followup. Let’s hope for a true, good change, rather than one I frankly don’t believe is even a sticking point.
Please be right. Please be honest, please be trustworthy. I don’t know if it was because the team was short staffed, or someone had behind the scenes family issues due to the virus impacting so many people and causing emotional distress to many, (including myself) but I still believe that this doesn’t fully excuse the lack of communication over the past two months. At the VERY least, emails should have been replied to, especially ones about cancellations. Again, prove me wrong, I’d love to be… But I’m gonna take this with a grain of salt, even if it seems plausible that I will finally have that coin in hand. When that comes, I’ll probably even make a mini blog post on it, who knows.