The popular Japanese gaming magazine, Famitsu, recently sat down with Keiji Honda, president of Enix, and Yoichi Miyaji, president of GameArts to get their opinions on the subject of cooperation between RPG developers. The translation of the interview, done by Core Magazine, is as follows:
Famitsu: Why have you decided to work together on future installments of the Grandia series?
Honda-san: First and foremost, there were no preconditions regarding financial investment. Rather, we found the idea of Grandia X very interesting, and we're both looking forward to it on the PlayStation 2. In our negotiations we realized that we could cooperative in many areas, even beyond the Grandia series. So we've decided to work together whenever possible in the future.
Miyaji-san: We believe Grandia is an excellent series, but there's some problems we can't tackle on our own. For the latest installment in the Grandia series on the PlayStation 2 we enlisted the cooperation of Enix because of their expertise in RPGs.
Famitsu: There have been many cooperative ventures lately in the gaming industry. Do you think that represents a move towards restructuring the way gaming companies do business?
Honda-san: I don't think restructuring is the right word, because it's not like companies are being bought out. Game developers are in the business of entertainment, which is a nonessential industry. That's why gaming companies have such a unique culture. Development requires such special attention and personnel, that's why you rarely see hostile takeovers in this business.
Famitsu: Even so, the industry is changing at a dizzying pace. How do you think these new relationships with affect the industry?
Miyaji-san: The games are getting better, which is stimulating change. The American market and their developers however, are in a state of chaos. [laughs..] It's almost impossible to figure out what companies are working together. If all the cooperation leads to better games though, it's for the best.
Honda-san: The atmosphere is finally right for everyone to discuss ideas like this. Just because the entertainment industry as a whole is doing well, doesn't mean all gaming companies prosper. If you don't innovate, you don't survive. Developers must begin to cooperate so they can offer new experiences to players.
Famitsu: I see, What about the future?
Miyaji-san: The scale of games are getting bigger, to the point where it's impossible for an individual company to release a title like Grandia or Final Fantasy. If companies don't work together, they won't be able to release anything soon. So the environment is right for collaborations now. Our deal with Enix regarding Grandia is being widely publicized, but in the past we've worked with several companies in similar collaborations.
Honda-san: I think gaming consoles are in a state of transition, which is why the software isn't that great. It's also causing market analysts and journalists to cast a negative outlook for the future. I believe it's just a short term problem though. This year alone the GameCube and Xbox will be released, so the future looks bright. Further cooperation between developers will make it even stronger, will players reaping the benefits.
Wise words indeed from the heads of two of the biggest players in the industry. One can only wonder if more companies will follow in this vein, or if the lone wolf philosophy will win out.