Unlike nearly every other featured speaker at this year's BitSummit, PlatinumGames's president Atsushi Inaba wasn't here to show off a new project. Instead, he came to share advice with aspiring developers by opening up about the processes and future ambitions at work inside Platinum.
With hits like Metal Gear Rising and Nier: Automata under their belt, it feels like Platinum is finally seeing success to match the skill and refinement they invest into their work. The company's unique history and character make them a sort of patriarch for Japan's indie scene in many ways. I spoke to Inaba briefly following his speech to get a better sense of his vision for how he'd like Platinum's relationship with Japan's upstart indies to develop.
USG: I was able to catch some of your stage presentation—it seems like you had a lot of practical business advice for aspiring developers.
Atsushi Inaba: Practically speaking, I want to help raise up a new director. A new director within the company, and also an indie seed to build that talent. So the question is, how do we do that? What do we need to do to accomplish that? As a producer, how can I help them succeed and become good directors?
USG: I understand you're helping out with Dangen Entertainment, Ben Judd's new publishing venture.
AI: Yes, we used to work at Capcom together. I'm advising a little bit on that.
USG: Dangen seems to be focused in large part on connecting indie developers with veterans like yourself.
AI: Yeah, there are always things you want directors to be able to do more of, things you can see, but I'm not sure how many producers there are with that level of skill. There might be companies that want to make a game but don't have the resources to do that—nobody's going to invest in them. If you have someone like Platinum Games as a producer, that might give investors the confidence they need to provide the resources to make that happen.
USG: What would the process be, for someone interested in forming that sort of partnership with you.
AI: [laughs] I haven't really thought that far yet! We don't have anything like that in place — at the moment, we're really thinking it would be great to have something along those lines. It's something we want to do, but there's no process or structure in place yet. But I would love to hear from people who are interested in this!
USG: Platinum has been sort of a pioneer in independent development, so it seems like a natural next step to take on a bit of leadership role with the burgeoning indie scene here.
AI: It's also that we don't want to lose our edge, or our creativity. Coming here and speaking to indie developers gives us a chance to be involved. It's not necessarily that we just want to be a leader—we want to find fresh inspiration for ourselves, too. But we do want to share our knowledge, as well. Being here and being exposed to innovation is to our benefit, but we want to give back to the industry as well.
USG: Do you ever worry about creative stagnation?
AI: We still have plenty of creative ideas in our company — more than we can actually make! I just want to make sure that when we talk about ideas, we're talking about new ideas.
USG: Platinum's catalog contains a mix of original ideas and works based on others' IPs—that's something I feel is echoed in a lot of indie games, which tend to be either never-before-seen concepts or are based on classic hits. So what would your advice be to indie devs?
AI: I think it's always better to come up with something new than to rely on existing ideas. My advice would be to think of something brand new—it's risky, yes, but you can't make games if you don't take risks.