Tecmo is a publisher that has gradually built up its reputation on the back of quality software -- but it only had one superstar developer: Tomonobu Itagaki, the founder of its Team Ninja studio.
Of course, as everyone knows by now, in June this year Itagaki resigned from and sued the company. As everyone also knows, games are not made by one man: they're made by a competent team of individuals. Bearing both of these facts in mind, what's the future of Team Ninja?
To answer that question, Gamasutra sat down with Team Ninja producers Hitoshi Hasegawa, who has taken over leadership of the team that created the Dead Or Alive fighting game series, and Yosuke Hayashi, director of Ninja Gaiden Sigma (Team Ninja's other major franchise) for the PlayStation 3.
The conversation took in an evaluation of how the team has been evolving post-Itagaki, its views on the platforms at play in the current space, and -- after a Tokyo Game Show at which the studio showed no new games -- what the future holds in store for the high-profile developer.
At a very high level, what's the ongoing plan for Team Ninja now? Obviously you had a situation where you had a break, but also right now, you don't have any announced games. If you could talk about the direction the studio's heading in the future, that would be great.
Hitoshi Hasegawa: We've been taking some time reformatting and reorganizing our team around, but one thing for sure is that we know what our focus and our concentration and our team goals and objectives are.
We've been using time recently in order to make sure that that's what we want to do, and continue to work on existing and future projects.
Up until now, have you been satisfied with the products that have been released by Team Ninja for the current generation? Dead or Alive 4, Dead or Alive Xtreme 2, Ninja Gaiden II, and Dragon Sword as well?
HH: Not just the company as a whole, but each individual staff member on the team has been very satisfied with all of the products that we've released so far. But with any project that you've completed, you have a brand new day, and there are always new challenges and new points of view that you come up with.
Our staff members already know that there's a new challenge ahead of them, and there's always going to be constantly new concepts and ideas floating around. We're ready for that challenge.
Tecmo/Team Ninja's Ninja Gaiden Sigma
I'd like to talk a little bit about the different platforms that are available right now on the market and how you see their situation. Let's start with the PlayStation 3. You've released one game, Ninja Gaiden Sigma. Can you talk about how that's gone and how you see the future of the system, both in the Japanese domestic market and worldwide?
Yosuke Hayashi: For the PlayStation 3, we do not believe that we've seen the fullest of its potential from any standpoint: from a developer standpoint, and also a consumer standpoint -- and just in products in general.
The developers have been releasing products, but there is a bigger potential. There is greater potential, and we see that possibility the most in the PlayStation 3. It's going to be up to us developers and Sony to make sure that that does happen.