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What's next for Puzzle & Dragons and GungHo?

March 28, 2014 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 3 Next

I think a lot of people in the mobile game space would look at your company and say: "Why are you making games for the PlayStation Vita, still? Why did you bother to buy Grasshopper Manufacture?" 

I don't know why people are negative about us doing this stuff.

Smartphone, or PlayStation 4, or Vita, they're all just platforms. It is our initiative. We get to decide which platform to release a title on based on the ideas we have, as a game concept.

Definitely when you compare them, obviously the smartphone market is growing, and that's obvious from the outside as well. But there's no reason to focus only on smartphone because of that.

I still play console games. I'm more of a console gamer. They may be similar, smartphone games and console games -- but they're different as well, completely different beasts.

The whole approach of creating games for both consoles and smartphones is completely different. With console games, you have more of a loyal following and you're catering to hardcore users. With smartphones, it's less hardcore, more casual, and obviously it's more how to kill your time instead of how to spend your time.

It's the difference between TV and movies. It's the difference between eating potato chips and a full-on, four-course meal. Just because McDonald's opened up their stores doesn't mean that we stopped eating steak and lobster, right?

Last year, the Japanese market because the number one spender on mobile apps, which has gained it a lot of attention. What do you think about that happening, and also the increased attention on Japan? 

I'm not very interested. I don't really think of it as a difference in countries. As I mentioned earlier, I just want to make good games. Whoever plays it, as long as they're enjoying it, I'm just fine with it.

Because of this, a lot of Western mobile studios are starting to aggressively target Japan. It sounds like you aren't concerned from a business perspective, but what do you think about it? 

In terms of other companies jumping into the Japanese market, I think that's great. Obviously it's not something that will change anything in our business model, but coming from the console side, I do play a lot of Western games. A majority of the games I play are Western.

I hope more Western companies joining the Japanese market would be good for the users, as they will have a better chance of understanding Western games. I'd like to see Japanese players playing Western games as well.

It goes both ways. An American car company comes to Japan? That's good. A Japanese car company comes to the U.S.? Nobody's going to scrutinize that. I'm sure they'd talk about it, but it's not that big of a deal, I think.

Morishita's laptop: Rockstar and Puzzle & Dragons.

GungHo owns 20 percent of Supercell now. How would you characterize the relationship between Supercell and GungHo these days? 

In terms of synergy in development, we really don't think that's going to happen anytime soon -- because we want them to make their own games, and we want to make our games. But it's more of an initiative to have a bigger global reach as GungHo, and I think working with Supercell is definitely a good thing to do.

Definitely, with Supercell, we'd like to utilize them more on a promotional basis. Obviously, they have a lot of countries that they're serving, and they have their experience as well as the promotional ideas they have. That's something we'd like to learn from them, and gather data from them, as well, and work together.

The global market is all about your 24-hour engagement, and as a media outlet, we feel they're great, because they do have that 24-hour media reach as well. That's the sort of the way we'd like to utilize them and work with them.

Except for maybe the 3DS, the console market in Japan seems to have declined pretty far compared to the heights of the PlayStation 2 era. Do you think it'll be possible to increase the audience for the next generation?

Obviously the past is the past, so I don't think it's going to go back to what it used to be, because it's always changing. In terms of the smartphone market, obviously the smartphone became a very easy entrance for non-gamers to start playing games.

Those non-gamers, some of them will move on to become real, actual gamers, like we are today. That will open up a new era that's completely different to what we had in the PS2, PS1 eras. Obviously that's a good thing. Whatever was in the past is in the past and something new is born -- that's the way it should be, and I think that's a good thing.

Nintendo, you know, is sort of the other way around. Obviously they struggled with the Gamecube and the N64, but then they did well with the Wii and the DS. I'm sure they'll have great ideas that they'll bring to the table as well. It's something that we look forward to. They obviously have enough money to do that.

Have you seen smartphone players come over to the 3DS version of Puzzle & Dragons? Do you have any way of seeing that? Are you seeing the trend of them becoming "gamers"? 

In terms of the route from casual to core user, I don't think it's been created yet. With Puzzle & Dragons to Puzzle & Dragons Z, I'm sure there are people who have taken that path, but we don't have any data and haven't seen any numbers that support it.

When we created PDZ, that was more of a focus on people who don't have smartphones -- that equals kids. That was more of our focus, and our marketing supported that as well. I think there probably are people who went from smartphone to console, but it's just that we haven't seen that route yet.

We believe that in terms of grade school kids, the younger generation, they definitely know the brand name Puzzle & Dragons and a lot of them have already played it. I think we've covered that area, and our share there has been pretty much maxed out.

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Luis Blondet
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What's next? Hopefully the player base wises up to their evil game design and go support game devs that respect them instead of treating them like digital cattle.

Christian Nutt
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You could at least read the article before commenting :3

Luis Blondet
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I did read it. Just another fluff piece enabling exploitative game design and no, the DS release doesn't even come close to redeeming them.

Tuomas Pirinen
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Excellent article. It was very interesting to find out that the same team did both the console and the mobile version of the game, even though they use a different business models.

Lihim Sidhe
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A CEO that carries around a laptop with Rockstar and P&D stickers? Either that's a brilliant marketing move on the part of GungHo or this guy is authentic. I'm going to go with the latter because as an avid Puzzles and Dragons player everything he said resonates with how I feel about the game.

@Luis Bondet: I am the one that liked Christian's Nutt comment. It seems to me you at best hastily skimmed through the article in a rush to be the first snarky comment against successful F2P games. If that's your thing direct your energy against King for trademarking the use of the word Saga in a video game title for Christ's sake. Anyone that partners with Grasshopper Manufacture to simply gain their experience deserves a more open minded outlook, don't you think?

Tuomas Pirinen
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Well said, especially if you consider that I think Grasshopper would have been in significant trouble without becoming part of the GungHo family. Now we can look forward to more mad Suda51 games.

I also agree on your assessment on the article in general. I am really puzzled (pun intended) by all the anti-P&D comments. I find it an excellent game that I am happy to support with real money now and then.

Lihim Sidhe
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I've been playing the game since mid fall semester. I've come close to making an IAP more than a few times. Especially considering all the Magic Stones I could have bought instead of you know a value meal at Burger King and little junk purchases that we make everyday.

I'm eventually going to give in. Until then it's my Frugality vs P&D.

Luis Blondet
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yeah, ok, i'll just leave this right here:

Larry chau
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a user blog from a full time employee at war gaming has no relation to puzzle & dragons or any insight on how GungHo operates. I'll take the word of their CEO, who Christian has interviewed multiple times according to his Twitter over someone who is has no ties to GungHo. So unless you have other "evidence" for your bias and trashy first comment, I'm siding with Tuomas and Lihim.

Tarinel Lifebringer
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That was a great article. Thanks for posting. I do agree that the F2P model is exploitive and GungHo has been very successful in taking advantage of that model. Personally I don't have a problem with a game company gaming me. Its really a metagame of sorts, and definitely a real life PvP or I should say Player vs Corporation. My personal hope is games like these will help people develop the mental skills early so that by the time they are even older they have the wherewithal to resist being gamed by telemarketers or whatever their equivalent is by the time they reach that age.

Companies exist to make money. We are lucky when we find a company that appears to truly care about their products versus just making money. As you point out it is possible this is just another fluff piece. But like anything you read or hear. The real test is based in the actions of the people speaking or being spoken about. So far it seems GungHo's heart is in the right place with regard to gaming.

Lihim Sidhe
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First of all thanks for the article link. I'm always happy to learn more about game design principles and from intelligent people like you. I believe you're view is a bit skewed but hey... we all have our opinions right?

Your argument's base principle seems to be against capitalism in general. I mean it's pretty simple - all games are forms of entertainment. Consumers choose the entertainment they want. Successful games persist and the less fortunate ones fade.

The resistance against F2P seems to be based on the premise that these F2P developers have discovered the secret to mind control and we are all unwitting victims pulled into their deceptive master plan. I say mind control because we don't have a choice right? As soon as one installs a F2P game on our device of choice it's over. Their spell takes hold, I become enthralled and fast forward a few months and I'm homeless and naked on the streets selling by body for IAP.

Either that or F2P isn't mind control, it doesn't magically take away one's decision making process, and isn't some magic trick of mental domination.

It's FREE TO PLAY. FREE! And if one doesn't like the IAP model by golly one does not have to make a single purchase, ever.

As much as I want to believe there is more to this world than death, taxes, paperwork, and chaos... Telepathic Overlord F2P developers are not. It would be awesome but alas... they are not.

Luis Blondet
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Nice strawmen, bro.

How about you read the article, specifically the parts where P&D uses exploitative game design.

David Takishi
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Sorry, but you're wrong Luis. The article you mention has a clear agenda to push Wargaming in favor of other F2P companies. I have to agree with the others in this pointless debate that the point-of-view of the CEO of GungHo is much more legit than someone from a rival company trying to spin their competitor's game as evil and exploitative.

Until you have legit research on the topic from someone who has nothing to gain and is out to teach/inform rather than someone with an agenda that is based on hunches and a narrative that is purely beneficial for the individual or the company they work for, I suggest refraining from trying to spin it as a positive in your light as your bias has shown through and there's no convincing you otherwise as you are dead set on pushing an agenda, too.

If you feel lost, re-read the interview with a clear mind rather than thinking about the propaganda from Wargaming.

Rosstin Murphy
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Freemium is a reality of the gaming world right now. I appreciate Morishita's positive take on it.

Ara Shirinian
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It's great to have a positive take on things, but Mr. Morishita's comparison of monetization in PAD to a tutor service is not really an accurate way to describe the dynamic.

People generally pay money to tutors in order for them to learn skills faster than they would be able to accomplish on their own.

In PAD, people pay for the premiun currency to advance in the game faster than they would be able to accomplish on their own.

However, the critical difference that is missing here is that when you pay the tutor and do the hard work, you have increased your own intrinsic skill and ability further as a result.

When you buy things in PAD with real money, you are increasing statistical values that effectively permit further progress, but that is an artifact of the statistical structures of the game, and you have not increased any of your own skill and ability at all.

I do not believe that Mr. Morishita is deliberately trying to mislead however. I do believe that many developers who have devised successful F2P games have in fact done so without fully understanding all the psychological effects and consequences of the resulting dynamics, perhaps even Mr. Morishita.

Edward Magee
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I really think this is a good article. It gives me a lot of detail as to why the game looks good. One question I have for you would be: Is there going to be a time for you selling this game in Europe and China as well as U.S. and Japan?