During a panel at BitSummit in Kyoto, livestreamed on Nico Nico, PlatinumGames Executive Director and Producer Atsushi Inaba talked about Platinum Games’ ambitions as an independent studio.
According to Inaba-san, a studio that has two or three hundreds employee has to consider specific restrictions. Even just having to pay the salaries means that they’re forced to take very large projects and don’t always get a lot of freedom to really do the games that they’s like to do.
That said, the folks at PlatinumGames are proud of having managed to remain independent for ten years, while delivering games every year, as that’s not something everyone manages.
At the beginning the dream at the studio was to create original titles and to make the games they really wanted to make. Now that ten years have passed, and they have done a lot of original titles, Inaba-san’s mindset has slightly changed on what it means to be a larger independent developer, and on what that dream of being an independent developer actually means.
One of the biggest dreams that they have now at PlatinumGames is to own their own IP. Unfortunately, there aren’t many opportunities for larger Japanese studios to achieve that.
If you think about the many games that PlatinumGAmes has created, from Bayonetta to Vanquish to Wonderful 101, they’re great games, and PlatinumGames is thankful to be able to work with great publishers like Sega, Nintendo or Microsoft, and create new IPs like those. However, it’s been ten years, and the studio doesn’t have control of its own IPs. They don’t have something to call their own.
Owning their own IP would allow PlatinumGames to be only one step away from their fans. It’s much easier to communicate their message when they’re not just the people who make the game, but also the people owning the game. They wouldn’t have to go through multiple filters of a different company telling them what they can and can’t say.
Achieving the goal of owning their own IP would allow them to be closer to their fans, and they’re very proud of their fanbase.
According to Inaba-san, fans know that games made by PlatinumGames will have great action, but that’s just what they’re good at. If you look at Naughty Dog, they create incredible stories. If you look at Respawn, they have amazing design and tech for shooters. Each studio has it’s strengths and weaknesses. By owning your own IP and by not being constrained by a larger publisher, it’s possible to share your characters and skillset with other developers, creating collaborations that would otherwise be impossible.
Only the indies nowadays have that kind of freedom to be collaborative and sharing their skills with other developers without limitations. Today Inaba-san was talking with Shuhei Yoshida from Sony about No Man’s Sky, and that’s a fantastic example of the power of an independent developer. The team at Hello Games isn’t about the number of people or the budget spent on the game. It’s about a very interesting concept that was allowed to grow organically and become incredibly interesting due to that huge amount of freedom.
According to Inaba-san, the industry is going to reach a stage in which games will become so big that the larger projects won’t be doable by a single studio alone. Making those games will rely on how collaborative the industry will become, on how few restrictions there will be on the core concept, and on what developers across the world feel that is going to be interesting.
Japanese developers and western developers are still going to have their own flavor and style. There will still be key differences catering to different types of gameplay and gamers, but the industry will probably become more collaborative, and hopefully this will generate a lot more interesting concepts created on an international scale.
Inaba-san concluded by mentioning that there are challenges for Japanese developers in owning their own IP, especially for larger studios, and how to achieve this goal is something PlatinumGames will have to consider in the future.