At BitSummit 7 Spirits in Kyoto last weekend, we sat down with PlatinumGames executive director and producer Atsushi Inaba and game designer Takahisa Taura to discuss the company’s upcoming projects, potential collaborations, their thoughts on Granblue Fantasy: Relink, and more.
Get the full interview below.
Gematsu: Let’s get this one out of the way at the start. What’s going on with Babylon’s Fall?
Atsushi Inaba: “I’m sorry, but it’s up to the publisher to release any news. So if you could wait a little more, I’d appreciate it. But development has been going well so far.”
Ah, is that so? I think some were worried it may have been cancelled.
Inaba: “(Laughs.) No, it’s going smoothly. I can assure you that it’s shaping up well.”
We’ve seen Platinum do extensive collaborations with Nintendo, and even tried a go with Microsoft. Would you consider Sony as a partner as well?
Inaba: “Oh, we really want to. You guys should go tell the folks at Sony to collaborate with us.”
You heard them, Sony… PlatinumGames is of course famous for its action games. Have you ever considered tackling other genres?
Takahisa Taura: “We’d like to. (Laughs.) Yes, we are known for our action games and we know we’re good at them, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be any other genre games from us in the future. If there’s an opportunity, certainly.”
Is there any genre that you want to make personally?
Taura: “Hmm.. I haven’t really thought about that. All of the ideas I have for future games are all action games at the moment.”
Inaba: “Mmm… I have two categories for my ideas: one that takes a new approach on games, and one that take a ‘traditional’ approach on games. The latter is, in a way, rebooting an old genre. Not necessarily action. (Looks at Taura.) Don’t you think making a dating sim would be fun?”
Taura: “Perhaps. (Laughs.)”
Have action games released by other companies raised the bar for PlatinumGames?
Taura: “I’ve always been a gamer, so I can’t say any specific game that raised the bar off the top of my head, but since I play a lot, every game has probably affected me in some kind of way.”
Inaba-san, you previously teased a game that would be unlike anything before it. Can you tell me a bit about that?
Inaba: “Nope, sorry. (Laughs.) I think it’s going to be something we can reveal at our own timing, so if you would wait for us that would be appreciated. I’m confident that it’s going to be new and exciting game for everyone. Since it’s a game like no other, I think you’ll need some time to even understand what it is.”
Inaba-san, you also said that 2019 is going to be a big year for PlatinumGames. How, specifically?
Inaba: “Well first, Taura’s Astral Chain is going to be released. And other than that there’s potential to release news about new titles we have on the way. And all this news would bring a major change to PlatinumGames, I believe.”
You’ve previously brought up the possibility of bringing The Wonderful 101 to Switch. What do fans need to do to make it happen?
Inaba: “Yeah, I think I said that on multiple occasions. And I’m glad that I did. So if you could be patient with it, that’ll be great.”
Earlier this year, the cooperation between Cygames and PlatinumGames on Granblue Fantasy: Relink came to an end. All mention of PlatinumGames was removed from the game’s website. Was this an amicable split?
Inaba: “It was just a matter of the contract coming to an end. At the end of our initial agreement, they decided they will make the rest of the game by themselves. So we have no say in it, and we shouldn’t really care too much.”
How do you feel about having the PlatinumGames logo removed from the project?
Inaba: “It’s not really about me. There were staff involved in the project, so I don’t feel it’s my right to talk on their behalf. It might have been a happy ending if they were to be involved to the end, but a contract is a contract. When a partnership ends, it’s natural for our logo to be taken off their project. Also, from the point the contract ended, whatever decisions Cygames make for their game is theirs alone. It would be weird to have Platinum’s logo still there after they’ve decided to make the rest of the game on their own.”
Can you say anything about Bayonetta 3, like who the director may be?
Inaba: “(Looks at Taura.) What do you think?”
Taura: “Don’t ask me! (Laughs.)”
Inaba: “Sorry, again we can’t share anything. Although I can assure you, development is going smoothly. So please wait for further updates.”
I’d like to talk about Astral Chain if possible. Can you say whether it’s an open-world game?
Inaba: “We can’t share anything about the game, unfortunately.”
Taura: “We released the first trailer not too long ago, so all I can say is to enjoy speculating about it through the footage.”
Inaba: “We want to share more, but we can’t.”
Taura: “It’s not far from release, so there will be news soon.”
Hmm, OK, so maybe this—can you talk about how your past projects affected Astral Chain?
Any lessons you may have learned?
Taura: “Well, not only NieR, but I think I’ve learned from all my past titles. I obviously cant say anything specific right now, but it definitely had a positive impact.”
How has Hideki Kamiya’s involvement been on the project?
Taura: “Well, since Kamiya-san is a very seasoned game director, he always gave me advice when I was struggling with the design. Most times, he showed me several paths I can take, and he let me choose the path that felt is best for the game. Of course, there were also times he sat down and talked with me to hone in some ideas. So he is like a wise adviser to the whole team.”
Taura-san, do you feel like your road to directorial debut was a fast one?
Taura: “I don’t consider myself becoming a director that fast. Kamiya-san, for instance, had already made his directorial debut with Resident Evil 2 when he was 23 years old. I’m already 10 years older than that, so for me it’s like, ‘finally.'”
Inaba: “Nowadays I can’t let a 23 year-old direct games. The mere idea scares me.”
Taura: “Yeah, I can’t think of that either.”
Given that we’re at BitSummit, does PlatinumGames have any plans to release smaller, indie-esque titles, perhaps assigning directional roles to younger staff on those projects?
Inaba: “Yes there are plans. And actually we want to showcase them here. Although they’re still not ready and unfortunately we can’t say anything yet. But we do have the plans and ambition for it.”
What is the age range for the directors on those titles?
Inaba: “Hmm, they’re pretty varied I think. Maybe the youngest one is still in his 20s? There are also maybe ones that are close to 40?”
Taura: “Yeah I think they’re varied in age too. Maybe some a little older than me, some a little younger than me, and some around my age.”
Long-time Platinum staff?
Inaba: “Hmm, not really. I think that’s varied, too.”
Taura: “I guess they worked with us at least a few years, but not everyone is a long-time employee.”
Inaba: “We want to give chances to the staff that have passion to make these titles as much as possible.”
Our time is about up. Any last messages for the fans?
Taura: “Astral Chain is coming out on August 30, so stay tuned for more information. We hope you can get a copy of the game and enjoy it, and we can guarantee that it’s good.”
Inaba: “What he said.”