Platinum Games, the developer set up by key members of Capcomís Clover Studio, is set to launch its debut title MadWorld next month. Develop decided it was the perfect time to speak to the firmís executive director Atsushi Inaba about the game and the challenges facing Japanese developers...
Develop: Platinum is a new games studio. Do you feel there more opportunities for Japanese independent developers these days?
There are plenty of opportunities for Japanese developers, but only those that appeal to the global gaming public and sells games successfully worldwide will survive in this industry. We have a great partner in Sega and we’re in a good place right now so the future is definitely looking good for Platinum Games.
Develop: Many other Japanese games publishers have said they need more games that appeal to Westerners. Are your games made with this in mind?
That is true, you always have to think about the world market when developing games. As a Japanese developer, I think we have to develop with securing the hearts and minds of a global gaming audience as our primary goal.
Develop: Do you feel under any pressure to create games that aren’t just popular in your home country but also big hits around the world?
There’s nothing better than having your games played by people from across the world. Sure, there’s lots of pressure and sometimes it can get really hard, but the excitement that you feel developing games more than makes up for it.
Develop: Where did the idea for MadWorld come from?
The first main concept was to make a fun game for the Wii. We wanted to make a game with impact, action and entertainment and also a game that is very different from the existing games on the console.
Develop: Were you worried about the adult nature of the game?
We expected to have some criticism, but at the end of the day we are creating a game that is suitable only for a mature audience. Some people may take offence but you just can’t please everyone. I hope that gamers will appreciate the game as a form of entertainment and not focus on the irreverent violent content.
Develop: Why make a violent game on Wii when that console’s demographic is mostly families and younger gamers?
The Wii is currently the most popular console in the world but there are not many games for the console tailored to adult gamers, so we thought if we could make an adult game, we’d be able to give this audience something the console has been missing. Plus the Wii has also allowed us to create a fantastic control system, which is great fun to use.
Develop: With Infinite Space, MadWorld and Bayonetta, you’ve got a lot of original IP in the works. Was that an intentional plan when founding the company?
Our vision has always been to create new IPs. The best way for a developer to make a mark in the industry and secure its future is by creating new and successful IPs. It’s a very hard process but if you succeed, the rewards are massive.
Develop: How important do you think new IP is to the industry as a whole?
Creating new IPs is very difficult. Developing a new IP takes a lot longer and costs more money than creating a sequel to an existing IP. It’s also hard to get a completely clear picture when estimating potential sales of a new IP, which is why publishers can be wary about developing IPs. But to keep the games industry innovative and growing we really have to be creating popular new IPs, so we as a studio work very hard to make our new IPs have everything they need to be a success. Industries that innovate and produce something new will always survive in the global marketplace.
Develop: What are your thoughts on Western developers? Do you feel Japanese games are falling behind when compared to US and European-developed titles?
To be honest, I think that western developers are superior to those in Japan overall, so we the Japanese developers should realise that we have to work hard to reach the western level. We’re fast reaching a stage where it’s going to be about individual developers and not about what country they are in, globalisation is coming to our industry too.
Develop: What are you ambitions for the studio and the Japanese games market in 2009?
We have been developing games since we started this company. We’ve got big titles coming out this year, MadWorld releasing very soon and Bayonetta later this year, and we hope they’re both going to do very well. I’m also planning for a new IP but I can’t reveal any details yet, as I’m sure you’ll understand.