How do you select the developers that you work with?
KI: Well, I wanted to work with a Japanese developer at first, since I figured it'd be tough to set everything up to work with overseas developers from the get-go. So, looking at Japanese outfits, there are really a limited number of developers that can deploy a hundred or two hundred people together to work on a project. Marvelous was one of them, and among the choices at hand, I found them one of the easiest to work with. They were eager to work with me, too, in assorted meanings of the term, so it was really a stroke of luck that it worked out.
There aren't that many big independent studios in Japan. Can you talk about why?
KI: Even what independent developers there are here essentially follow orders from their client publishers. There really aren't a lot of rights given to them. As a result, you don't really see companies on the orders of hundreds of employees that try to make a name for themselves via making good products.
With outfits in the US and Europe, it's more of a case of the developer really trying to make their own successes and reap the rewards -- that's why you see inspired people entering developers instead of publishers, and that's why it's easier for developers to build up people pretty quickly. Meanwhile, in Japan, the idea's often that you enter a developer because you couldn't join a publisher, so it's harder for them to attract people.
Do you hope to change this culture, and thus change the options for developers in Japan? You've talked a lot about the problems of the Japanese game industry.
KI: Certainly. That was part of the motivation behind me leaving Capcom. I learned everything about the publisher's viewpoint of the business from Capcom; now I'm learning everything about the developer's side of it.
I think there needs to be more energy among developers before the Japanese game industry will improve, and if we want to complete globally, they need to take a more global approach to development. So I'm trying to make a company where the developers feel more of a reward for making great products. I'd like to succeed at that, and I hope that inspires other outfits to see if they can duplicate that success.
Do you feel there are a lot of talented people in Japan who don't have the opportunity to reach their potential because of the current structure, and the way jobs are?
KI: I think there are a lot. There are a lot of very talented creators in Japan, but often they aren't in a position to use that talent, or the developer they're working for hasn't noticed that talent. So I think there needs to be a system that allows them to be more creative in their work; that would help them a lot. I think we're seeing that in my work with Marvelous; I'm digging up a lot of talent working for them.
Can you create a path for these people? By working with Marvelous, can you shine a light on a people, to change that company, by working with them?
KI: I absolutely think I can. I feel like I've been making games for the past 25 years partly for that reason. The Japanese game industry used to pull the entire business forward, something a lot of people aren't even aware of anymore, and I think the experience I've gained through those years can help pull people who aren't familiar with those times out of the woodwork.