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GS: I know you’re supporting the Wii - do you think that's easier, from a somewhat smaller company's side, than large next‑gen development?
JG: Yeah, definitely. What Nintendo's interested in is high‑quality, polished game play, and so they've given developers the tools to do that. What they don't provide you is the tools for incredible graphics, and incredible lifelike things that maybe Microsoft and Sony have been focusing on. So it's just a different market, and I think that people tend to say, "Oh, Nintendo lost the last round." Really, they didn't lose; they were very successful in their own thinking, in their own box.
GS: They made a lot of money.
JG: So I think it's just a very different model, and we want to support everybody. So for us, we'll create games made for that model; and then for Sony we'll create games for that model, and so on.
GS: Are you going to be able to make games for next‑gen, like 360 and PS3, with the current staff size that you have?
JG: No. You know, our idea to create console games should be done step by step. And for us to dump a lot of money into making a real impact on next‑gen is obviously a much more expensive proposition. So we want to take it step by step, and do the things we can do here, hone those things, and then step into the next level and then the next level. You're not likely to see a full‑on, huge company this year; it might be next year that we start to take bigger steps and bigger steps. The reason is because we all understand the timeline.
Most companies have a very rigid timeline that they have to follow because their investors are VCs, or they want an IPO, or they want to get out; and working for a Japanese company offers you this security in knowing that there's a plan, and you follow that plan, and you grow step by step. If you've followed any of DoCoMo's model, as far as what they've done in the market, it's incredible. They had a twenty‑year business plan, and they just execute month to month to month.
GS: I know they've been doing well.
JG: Yeah, it's incredible. Talk about execution; it's been perfect. Every time I go back to Japan, I see their steps, you know. Very small, but you notice them.
GS: So, that said about next‑gen, what would you have done differently about Bomberman: Act Zero for instance if you had the power to influence them?
JG: Besides what I already mentioned, that there wasn't a connection for what the game planners had developed the game for and what the eventual publisher marketed the game as. I think that was the number one mistake. I think that taking a Bomberman game and turning it mech‑like was not a bad idea; you just don't call it Bomberman, that's all. Call it Act Zero, just don't mention the word Bomberman. Everybody knows it's Bomberman; it's made by Hudson. But you don't need to call it Bomberman, because I think that alienated people.
If it didn't have the name Bomberman, then people say, "Well, it looks a lot like Bomberman, and it's kind of cool, you know? It's a refreshing choice that you can have now." So I think that that was a problem. And then there's small things in the game: lack of a game save, the single player mode…
JL: It was designed as an endurance scenario. They treat their single‑player game as trying something different for each Bomberman. And this one was 99 levels you played straight through and you've got to beat all 99 levels. And a lot of people are going, "What, are we back in the 1970s, with no save game feature? Who does that anymore?"
JG: But there's a reason for that.
JL: Yeah, there was a logic to how they built it. Like, this is the kind of feature we want to design around. But that was never conveyed properly. The reality was, too, this is why we never talked about single‑player. No one buys Bomberman for the single‑player. The focus has always been on the multi‑player.
JG: Really, that's why they did that. It's a multi‑player battle game; it's not about the single‑player mode. They should have just left the single‑player out.
JL: That probably would have gone better, you're right. Do it the way they wanted, or not do it at all.
GS: The straight multiplayer game was done once before, although it
wasn't released; what became Saturn Bomberman was the internal Hudson
Bomberman ten player simultaneous battle game, Hi-Ten Bomberman. And
that became Saturn Bomberman.
JG: It's considered the greatest Bomberman ever.
GS: Do you want to leverage new IP as well? How are you doing that, and how important is it going to be?
JG: Here's the problem with only doing mobile - you don't have any leverage outside of mobile. And, quite honestly, the carriers look to Hudson as being a console player, and they want to see us bringing out Hudson games that we can then leverage on their side, because they know that CPs ‑ content providers ‑ are not going to spend massive amounts of money on advertising because of the low adoption rates right now.
So if you can advertise something hugely on console, and that trickles into mobile, they're very, very happy about that. So this is really what I think was the first notion ‑ I mean, there's lots of other reasons to go console, but that was the first shot across the bow. Like, "What should we do for console? How do we bring this back?"
GS: That's interesting. It's kind of ‑ I shouldn't say opposite, but using console games to promote mobile is definitely a different way of thinking.
JG: It's very funny. I was on a panel at GDC, probably three years ago? I was speaking as Hudson Soft, not Hudson Entertainment at the time. There were several people, maybe six different companies, all traditional game companies. One of the questions was, what do you see your revenues as in three or four years from mobile?
And these guys ‑ THQ, and a couple of other companies ‑ they were like, "Five to ten percent." And I said, "Fifty to sixty percent." And everyone said, "What the hell are you talking about?" Because that was unheard of. And we just passed fifty percent in Japan.
Hudson was always an early adopter with mobile, we were one of the first, and still are very, very close to DoCoMo and have that inner garden seat in the palace because of our early adoption and what we have done for them and vice versa, of course. Mobile has always been a big driver. I don't want to say that is going to be how it is forever, but certainly mobile until this day has been the reason we came here.