Suda 51, the offbeat creative force behind Grasshopper's cult games, has reassured fans that the studio's recent acquisition by Ragnarok Online publisher GungHo will not affect his team's output - telling Japanese press that it will actually give him more time at the coalface.
In an interview with 4Gamer, both Suda and GungHo president Kazuki Morishita explained that the buyout will give Suda more direct creative control, with Moroshita handling the corporate management side of things.
"I'd like Suda-san to remain focused on Grasshopper rather than GungHo as a whole," Moroshita explained in the interview, as translated by Edge Online. "Of course now I'll be involved in Grasshopper's creative output, but since Suda-san is there, in a lot of ways it actually equates to a taking load off my own work. Basically, I'd like Grasshopper Manufacture to continue to make games in the manner they are accustomed to."
According to Suda, it's an arrangement he's been keen to facilitate for some time.
"Around 2011, I was thinking about what I should do with the company, groping about in the dark to try and figure out the real purpose, the real value of Grasshopper Manufacture. So, while we were deciding our next project, I was too absorbed in the management side of business to really focus on the creative. Morishita-san said 'isn't that my job?', and it put me back on the right path."
"Up until now, we've been lucky enough to have worked with big name clients, and I'm very thankful to have learned all I have from them," added the creative wildcard. "However, at the same time, it's also true it was difficult to truly grasp the creative reigns of a project, which is a situation I've been trying to rectify. That's not the main reason though.
"For example, in our latest game, Lollipop Chainsaw, the back and forth between us and the client was ultimately a good thing I believe. But I believe as a developer, to stay in this kind of environment is stifling. We really want to go all out in the future, and I think it's necessary for a closer relationship with the publisher in order to do so."
Suda also seemed to drop some hints about what that creative future might entail, suggesting that perhaps online-focused games were on the cards.
"If we wanted to make a title that was focused on online play, we wouldn't be able to if publishers weren't interested in funding such a game. But equally, since we've been focused on single player experiences, we wouldn't have the resources and knowledge base to make such a game on our own anyway. I've always wanted to make use of the strengths of online. It's a layer I've wanted to add to our repertoire."
Suda also took the opportunity to praise Grasshopper's new owners, heaping acclaim on GungHo's latest mobile sensation, match-three title Puzzle & Dragons.
"The first time I thought of smart phones as in competition with traditional gaming devices was the release of Puzzle & Dragons. I think a lot of people in the industry will have felt the same. It's GungHo who put out that game, they're a big voice in that market, which is only going to grow bigger."