GungHo Looks Beyond Puzzles & Dragons — to Japan’s Gaming Iconoclast

Posted: in
By admin on July 31, 2016

A combo that makes sense.

GungHo Online Entertainment is in an interesting phase of its business. The game studio is no longer part of Softbank, the giant Japanese telecom company. Its breadwinner, Puzzle & Dragons, is still doing well in Asia, and in May it hit the 10 million download landmark in the U.S. It’s testing Super Senso, a mobile strategy game from New York developer Turbo. And it’s working with 17 Bit to release Galak-Z, a fun, niche mech-roguelike for the PlayStation 4, on mobile.

Oh, and it’s working with one of the most distinctive game developers: Goichi Suda, aka Suda 51, whose Grasshopper Manufacture studio is known for stylish, sometimes violent and bloody games. He’s even written songs for some of his creations, too. GungHo will publish Let It Die, Grasshopper’s next game.

GamesBeat recently interviews GungHo Online Entertainment CEO Kazuki Morishita and Let It Die chief director Hideyuki Shin of Grasshopper Manufacture, discussing the company’s recent independence from Softbank and going beyond mobile gaming.

GamesBeat: Do you feel any sadness about departing from Softbank, or are you excited about this?

Morishita: From the get-go—they’ve been stockholders for a while. But in terms of business, how we do things, in terms of production, in terms of how the company is run, they didn’t really have a lot of say. We were always working independently. So there was that business relationship, but how we run our business won’t change with Softbank’s departure. It’s not a big difference for us. Our independence is just becoming official, as far as how the company is set up. Any internal or emotional stuff, there’s really nothing different.

Turbo's Super Senso mech-strategy game.

GamesBeat: Your most recent game is Super Senso, right? How is that doing?

Morishita: We released the closed beta in April, but it’s not in official release yet. The next step will be a soft launch and then full launch. The closed beta is doing well and we’re getting a lot of good feedback. But it’s very closed, very small. We’re making a lot of fixes and changes based on feedback.

GamesBeat: What is it about GungHo that attracted Grasshopper?

Hideyuki Shin: I’m not mainly on the business side. I’m mostly on the development side. But in my opinion, up until now, before our partnership, Grasshopper has always focused on being independent. We’d make a game, find a publisher, the publisher would release it. We’ve always gone through that multiple-step process for every release. Now that we’re part of GungHo, the publishing side and the development side are working together from the beginning. We start from scratch on every production and work together. We can collaborate with our different skills. From the development side, it’s gotten a lot easier as far as communication and figuring things out together. Marketing considerations can trickle into game development. Things have gotten a lot easier.