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Nintendo localizer says he was fired after appearing on podcast

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A former Nintendo employee says he was fired from the company after appearing on a podcast where he spoke openly, and perhaps indelicately, about the company's products and localization efforts.

Chris Pranger, who worked in Nintendo's Treehouse localization group, appeared on the Part-Time Gamers podcast earlier this month where his frank comments garnered attention on sites like NintendoLife and the NeoGAF forum.

Pranger wrote on Twitter this morning that he'd been fired from Nintendo, which closely guards its company secrets and tightly controls its messaging, after the podcast appearance.

On Facebook, Pranger wrote that he "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."

Reached for comment, a Nintendo of America spokesperson said that that company has "no comment on this topic other than to wish Chris the best in his future endeavors."

The podcast episode clocks in at more than an hour, and Pranger says many things, not all controversial. Others could be seen as such, depending on your interpretation. For example, he spoke about a question he hears from those frustrated at Nintendo for not bringing some games stateside. He used Captain Rainbow, a game he characterized as "very Japanese," as an example of people who say "Look how many people want this! Don't you want money?

"And it'll be like, 'Yeah, we do want money, which is why we know it's a colossal waste to localize that in this current market because look at you people," he laughed. "'You don't make up a big enough group.'"

People have difficulty understanding how expensive it is to localize games he said, which encompasses more than translating, localizing and marketing.

"You look at something like even Xenoblade Chronicles. People love that game, you know, within a certain group," he said. "That game is not the type of game that just pulls in enough to justify the costs on that. We got it in the States by luck, that [Nintendo of America] decided 'Oh, we'll take the bullet. We'll localize that.' Like, 'OK!' because 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.

"And people are like 'Why do you guys hate money?' We don't. That's why you literally can't make everything. And people don't like finding out that their fanbase is actually too small to justify the costs of the thing they want. And they don't get that. And then they'll say, "Why don't you do that anyway?"

He also spoke of the Super Smash Bros. series, and the companies he hears from the "hardcore" fighting game scene who get upset if they hear that the game is designed for a more casual audience. Again, this response is the same: They don't make up enough of the player base.

They are practical answers, and they seem plausible. But it's easy to imagine that Nintendo would rather control that message, not have its employees speaking contemporaneously on podcasts.

At another point, as he was speaking about Uncharted 4, he said he was "not supposed to say nice things about our competitors," implying that's a Nintendo policy.

Polygon has contacted Pranger and will update this story with more information as we receive it.

Pranger said he learned that his comments had been getting coverage not long after the episode went up.

"I spent the last week in a miserable place once the podcast began getting coverage," he wrote on Facebook. "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."