PlatinumGames dispels rumors that Microsoft is buying it
Atsushi Inaba: "That conversation has not come to our doorstep at all"
Rumors that PlatinumGames might get acquired by Microsoft have been greatly exaggerated, at least according to Platinum studio head Atsushi Inaba and game director Hideki Kamiya.
Speaking to Video Games Chronicle, the pair addressed rumors that Microsoft was poised to acquire Platinum that sprung up online following comments made by Phil Spencer to GamesIndustry.biz last year, when he said he wanted Xbox to purchase a Japanese studio.
"I did read some rumors about Xbox wanting to purchase PlatinumGames, and I thought, 'people on the internet write the craziest stuff', because that conversation has not come to our doorstep at all," said Inaba. "That said, we're not Microsoft, so we don't know what happens behind their doors, we don't know if they had any thoughts about it possibly.
"We've not had any talks like that, but I think even if it was a possibility, we're now going into more independent self-publishing. It's not that we're disinterested in Microsoft, but if the relationship were to be us working under their direction, I feel like that would be the opposite of what we're trying to do now and limit our possibilities. Any opportunities that would limit our freedom I think we would be against."
Kamiya also noted that, at least in his view, the Xbox has always felt like "something foreign and far away" to the Japanese market.
"I think that Microsoft Japan could do more to market towards actual Japanese gamers' tastes for their console," he said. "If you want a concrete example, when you unlock an Achievement it says 'Achievement unlocked' and in Japanese, this phrase is translated extremely literally. Compare that with Sony's Trophies: that idea is very easy to grasp and even in Japanese the word 'trophy' is the same as in English. There's no awkward translation and it's easy to understand."
Inaba added, "I also feel that the success route into Japan has not always been about having the best hardware. Sometimes it's about familiarity. The biggest exception is the iPhone, but that was able to break in because it just took the world over - and it's not easy to make something of that momentum every day. It's a tough question that I don't know the answer to."
In the same interview, the pair also offered their thoughts on the coming next generation of consoles and what their capabilities might mean for them as developers.
"If you think back to the generation between Super Nintendo and PlayStation, and how we went from pixel art to 3D polygons...nobody could have ever imagined that a few years prior," Inaba said. "When that stuff started coming out people were just blown away: they weren't ready for it, they weren't anticipating it...it was just so new.
"Whereas I feel that the announcements that we've had for recent consoles generations, while all good and interesting, and of course I'm happy for us as developers to have better technology to work on...it's a 'perceivable' future. There's not the extreme surprise or the unexpected quality that I felt from the leap to previous consoles. Now I see the announcements and I think, 'oh, that's cool' and then the next minute I think, 'hmmm... what should I watch on Netflix tonight?'
"But that's just my personal opinion. As an industry, it's all very promising and I don't want to be perceived as too negative. But to give another example of my point, the Nintendo Switch was very ground-breaking in how it was able to just to take a home console and make it portable. It's something that you hadn't seen a lot of people doing before: it took this wall, that perhaps a lot of people didn't know even existed, and broke it down.
"Switch opened up all these new possibilities. I think the Game Boy and the DS also did that: there were so many surprises in those. If you compare that to when you're simply seeing graphical improvements or just 'faster, bigger'...obviously it's nice, but it doesn't have that same inventive quality that really surprised me with past consoles."
Kamiya added that he was interested in seeing what technical limitations would be removed from the development of the kinds of games he already makes.
"The first game I actually directed was Resident Evil 2 on PlayStation," he said. "Just a year ago Capcom's remake released and when I played through that there were so many surprises. The door loading issue is gone and the game is obviously so much prettier. Also, zombies can now climb in from other rooms, which is something I couldn't do back then.
"Seeing that, I realized there are things that I always wanted to do but maybe technical limitations were holding me back. The remake made me realize that we're tearing down these walls with new hardware, so I think it will be easier for me to challenge more interesting game design in the future, which is something I look for.
"During our career in the games industry, we've gone through PlayStation 1, 2, 3, 4 and now 5. We've seen a lot of different generations come and go at this point and with each one we always get a whole lot of talk about what you'll be able to do. Of course, it's exciting and of course, I welcome those new changes, but from experience, every time I've gotten my hands on new hardware I always find new walls to run in to. I'm looking forward to PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, but they might not solve everything."