Killer & Dragons: The GungHo and Grasshopper Interview
May 17, 2013 Page 2 of 3
Puzzle & Dragons is so successful that it's kind of ridiculous. You talk about being interested in doing creative things. You talk about that you're more or a creative guy and less of a business guy. What do you do with that success? What would you like to see your company do with these resources?
KM: In terms of how I run my part of the business -- basically I have two ways that I work on the creative side. Either I have an idea and I talk to the dev team, and we work together, or I throw an idea out at the dev team and let them come up with the actual concept and ideas and I work together with them. For Puzzle & Dragons, it was the latter, where I gave them an idea and they worked on it together and they came back with Puzzle & Dragons.
In terms of business model, that's what we're going to continue doing. That's not really going to change -- that's how they handle their work and that's how we're going to work on new titles. We're not going to focus on one platform, for example, and we're going to be multiplatform continuously.
What is your ambition for GungHo? Ultimately, is it right now the company you want it to be, and if not, how would you like to see it change?
KM: We would like in the future, worldwide-wise, we want people from all over the world to play our games and enjoy our games, and that's pretty much our main goal moving forward. In terms of how to do that -- in terms of strategy? We go back to the basic principle, which is just, make the game fun for everybody. Honestly, that's the only thing I think about: how to make games that are fun.
You've worked with a variety of publishers over the years, and had to do work-for-hire projects like anime-licensed games. Having this partnership, does it take the pressure off of Grasshopper? Can you do what you want now and not worry about the pressure about finding partnerships?
GS: In terms of Grasshopper's standpoint, it does definitely help with our creative freedom. We have more time, and we'll be able to focus on the creative side. Up until now, working with other publishers was just short-term. Now that we're able to work long-term, it connects all the dots in terms of business strategy.
We can also go into the expertise GungHo has, which is doing offline events, and having online features in games -- that's something that we'll definitely get advice from them on, and it's actually broadened our horizons a lot.
A GungHo-run fan event
EA seemed like it was going to be a really good partner for Grasshopper, with Shadows of the Damned, and then that game sold like crap in America. Do you know why? Can you talk about it?
GS: In terms of creating a product, I think Grasshopper did our best. We were definitely confident in the quality of the game. As Morishita-san usually says, it has a lot to do with luck. At the end of the day, whether a game sells or not is based off of luck.
KM: In terms of luck, to elaborate a little bit, SUDA51 did his best and gave it his all -- 100 percent -- to create a game, and it didn't sell, and he was unlucky. The same on the flipside -- if he had done his best and the game sold, that's also based on luck, too. It's just good luck.
Really? It's interesting to have that philosophy because, I don't think a lot of people believe it's purely down to luck. I'm not sure I do, either. Things like marketing support and having a publisher that understands you are important too.
KM: That's exactly what I mean by doing 100 percent. Not just on the creative side -- being together with a publisher that understands you and your product, and being able to work together, and doing a marketing push -- it's 100 percent marketing push and 100 percent brand recognition. If they're able to do that, then, that's the 100 percent that I'm talking about, giving everybody's all. So from then on, if it sells, it's based on luck.
I think EA did a zero percent marketing push on that game.
GS: If you are lucky, then a game like Lollipop Chainsaw actually did well. So that's also based on luck.
I know that Killer is Dead is coming from XSEED, but moving forward, will Grasshopper's games be coming from GungHo?
KM: In terms of releasing titles in the U.S., as the GungHo brand, it's probably better if GungHo America does everything, but it's not necessarily excluded. If there's a better partnership that we can come up with, and everybody is in agreement, then that's another way to go. So we're not really focusing on GungHo America releasing everything that GungHo [Japan] releases. It's going to be a case-by-case basis.
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