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PlatinumGames

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PlatinumGames Inc.
Native name
プラチナゲームズ株式会社
Purachina Gēmuzu Kabushiki Gaisha
Private
IndustryVideo game industry
Predecessors
  • Seeds Inc.
  • Odd Inc.
FoundedOctober 1, 2007; 11 years ago (2007-10-01)
Founder
HeadquartersOsaka, Japan
Key people
Products
Number of employees
209[1] (2018)
Websiteplatinumgames.com

PlatinumGames Inc. is a Japanese video game development company that was founded in October 2007 as result of a merger between two companies, Seeds Inc. and Odd Inc. Shinji Mikami, Atsushi Inaba, and Hideki Kamiya founded Seeds Inc. after the closure of Capcom's Clover Studio, while Odd Inc. was founded by Tatsuya Minami. A year after the studio was founded, video game publisher Sega announced that it would be publishing four unique properties developed by the company, which included MadWorld, Infinite Space, Bayonetta, and Vanquish. Their partnership later extended to include Anarchy Reigns. Most of these games received positive reception.

While PlatinumGames' core goal was to create new and original intellectual property, the team also accepted several contract works from Activision on several licensed projects, most of which received mediocre reviews. Since 2013, PlatinumGames had held a close relationship with console manufacturer Nintendo, which funded several of their titles, including The Wonderful 101 and Bayonetta 2. The studio also worked on creating new installments in other studios' franchises, with the studio taking major development duties on Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance for Konami, Star Fox Zero for Nintendo, and Nier: Automata for Square Enix. Nier Automata, which was both a critical and commercial success, was an important project for PlatinumGames, since it was their first game released after the cancellation of Scalebound, a project funded by Microsoft Studios.

Over the years, PlatinumGames had developed an expertise in action games and one of their key philosophies was that the team would not follow conventional game design concepts. The company is now working on World of Demons for DeNA, Babylon's Fall for Square Enix, Granblue Fantasy Project Re:Link and Lost Order with Cygames, and Bayonetta 3 for Nintendo.

History[edit]

2006–07: Founding[edit]

Former Capcom employees Shinji Mikami (left) and Atsushi Inaba (right) co-founded the company along with Hideki Kamiya and Tatsuya Minami.

PlatinumGames was founded by the merger of Seeds Inc. and Odd Inc. in October 2007. Seeds Inc. had been founded by Shinji Mikami, Atsushi Inaba, and Hideki Kamiya on August 1, 2006.[2] Prior to establishing the company, the three worked for Capcom, and were key members of the Osaka-based Clover Studio, which specialized in making new and creative intellectual properties.[3] They worked closely together developing popular Capcom franchises including: Resident Evil, Devil May Cry, Viewtiful Joe and Ōkami. Most of these titles received critical acclaim, but under-performed commercially, leading to Capcom's decision to close the studio.[4] Prior to the closure, the three founders had already left the studio to form their own company in mid-2006. In January 2006, the company expanded to 51 employees, including more former Capcom employees such as Masami Ueda, composer for the early Resident Evil games, and Mari Shimazaki, Ōkami's artist. Yusuke Hashimoto and Kenji Saito, who would eventually become PlatinumGames' directors, also joined during its establishment period. The new company revealed its existence by launching its website in February 2007.[2]

Odd Ltd. was founded by Tatsuya Minami in February 2006, and later renamed Odd Inc. in July 2007.[5][6] Like the founders of Clover Studio, Minami worked at Capcom prior to founding his own studio. He joined Capcom and for 20 years was involved in titles such as Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts, and the Mega Man franchise. However, he decided to leave as he became tired of making sequels.[7] Minami became the studio's head and focused on the company's management and administration, while Mikami, Inaba and Kamiya remained in the positions of director or producer.[5][8]

2008–12: Partnership with Sega[edit]

The company had not revealed anything about upcoming projects for a year, until 2008, when Sega announced that it would be publishing four PlatinumGames' titles.[8] According to Minami, the titles were unique and creative, and it was courageous of Sega to publish these risky titles. Minami added further that the partnership with Sega allowed them to bring these titles to Western markets. The four games included: MadWorld, Infinite Space, Bayonetta and Vanquish.[9] Each was released in 2009. All the intellectual properties created by PlatinumGames as part of the partnership are owned by Sega.[10]

MadWorld was the first game to be released. Produced by Inaba, the game was designed to appeal to a western audience and had a unique art style inspired by that of Sin City. The original story was written by Yasumi Matsuno, who had previously worked on Square Enix's Ogre Battle and Final Fantasy Tactics, while PlatinumGames and Sega jointly localized the title for the West. The team created the game with a vision of bringing a unique game to the Wii.[11][12] One of the game's main themes is violence and brutality which led to controversy as it tarnished the family-friendly image of the Wii console.[13] While the game received positive reviews, it was a commercial failure, selling poorly in both Japan and the West, despite Sega's heavy marketing.[8][14][15] Though the game was a commercial failure, Sega felt that sales were "encouraging",[16] and said that they would continue to make mature games for the Wii. They released the Welcome To Violence pack, which bundles MadWorld with House of the Dead: Overkill, and The Conduit, each of which were commercial failures.[17] In 2010, Sega announced that they would cease publishing mature video games for the Wii, citing the disappointing sales of MadWorld as a contributing factor. However, PlatinumGames announced several days later that they would like to do a sequel to the game.[18]

The company's second game was Infinite Space. Announced as Infinite Line, it is a role-playing video game with real-time strategy, and space simulation elements.[19] Inspired by the works of Arthur C. Clarke and Greg Egan, PlatinumGames collaborated closely with Nude Maker while developing the game.[20] Produced by Inaba, the title was released in June 2009 in Japan, and its localized release for western territories was in March 2010. The game was a moderate success in Japan,[21] but sales of the game in the West were unsatisfactory. PlatinumGames blamed Sega for not producing enough copies of the game, as the game "sold out instantly".[22][23]

"That's how games are. Teams kind of burn themselves out and then they get all that feedback and they get recharged and then people say that they're ready to do it again. And Bayonetta was a really, really strong example of that".

— Atushi Inabai on Bayonetta's development

The third game is Bayonetta, an action game "evolved" from the Devil May Cry series. The title was directed by Kamiya, who originally pitched several "casual" projects for the studio before starting the development of Bayonetta.[24] The game features an original story, with inspirations drawn from Scandinavian mythology, while the design of the titular character was based on Kamiya's own vision of an "ideal woman".[25] The development team was credited as "Team Little Angels", as opposed to Devil May Cry's "Team Little Devils". The game received critical acclaim on its release, with critics praising its action as "genre-topping", as well as its characters and innovation.[5] However, according to Inaba, the team had set an overly high standard for themselves, and become extremely frustrated by the end of the project's development. Inaba added that the game's development "nearly broke" PlatinumGames.[26] The team's morale was restored after hearing players' positive opinions of the game.[26] In addition, Inaba called the PlayStation 3 version of the game the company's "biggest failure", as the team did not have sufficient skills to develop that version of the game.[27] More than 1.35 million units of the game were shipped,[28] but according to Minami, the company was disappointed with its sales, despite it being one of the most commercially successful games produced by the company.[7][29] An animated film based on the game, called Bayonetta: Bloody Fate, was later released by Gonzo.[30]

The Sega-PlatinumGames original partnership announcement teased a mysterious fourth game from Mikami.[9] The title was later revealed to be Vanquish.[31] The team drew inspiration from Casshern when creating the game's visuals. Mikami decided the game's third-person perspective through trial and error, and hoped that with it, the team could increase its gameplay pace.[32] It was originally designed to be an open world game, but this idea was later abandoned and the game's direction shifted to become linear.[33] On its release, the game was positively reviewed, with critics calling it innovative for introducing new elements into the shooter genre. Sega added that the company was encouraged by the game's first and second-day sales.[34] After its release, Mikami left PlatinumGames and formed a new company, Tango Gameworks. According to Minami, Mikami "always wanted to be his own man, and his own developer".[5]

In late 2010, PlatinumGames revealed that it was in discussions with Sega to extend their partnership. Inaba added that Sega is a publisher which allows the team to have lots of creative control over their games.[35] In 2011, PlatinumGames announced that they had extended their partnership with a new title called Max Anarchy. The game was released in western territories as Anarchy Reigns in 2013.[36] The game serves as a sequel to MadWorld, but it does not feature the Sin City graphic style, though players assume control of MadWorlds protagonist Jack Cayman for most parts of the game.[37] The game received mixed reviews on its release,[38] and it was a commercial failure in both Japan and the West.[39] Anarchy Reigns is the last game developed by PlatinumGames published by Sega.[5]

2013–present: Licensed properties and exclusive games[edit]

In 2011, Hideo Kojima and his studio Kojima Productions were working on a new Metal Gear game focused on one of its main characters Raiden, a ninja equipped with swords. Unable to continue working on the game, Kojima contacted Minami to ask PlatinumGames to work on it. According to Kojima, PlatinumGames was the only studio capable of working on an action game with sword-based combat.[7] The team added stealth elements to the game finding its system too boring and straightforward.[40] Directed by Kenji Saito, the game, titled Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, was released in 2013 and received generally positive reviews from critics, and was a commercial success. It also became the company's first licensed title.[41]

PlatinumGames released two games exclusively for Nintendo's Wii U console within two years.

The same year also saw the release of PlatinumGames' second game, The Wonderful 101 for the eighth generation of video game consoles, the Wii U. While Kamiya was the game's director, Minami offered creative advice. According to Kamiya, inspiration was drawn from classic tokusatsu series like Power Rangers, and that the game was designed to appeal to all types of audiences.[42] The game was originally planned for the Wii, and was set to feature classic Nintendo characters. However, as the team found that it was difficult to use these characters creatively, the game was put on hold temporarily. Its development was restarted later, with 50 original characters being featured in the final game.[43] Nintendo also provided feedback during the game's development hoping that it would reach a larger audience.[44] The game received critical acclaim. It was considered one of the best games in the Wii U library,[45] and was voted one of community's Nintendo favorites.[46] However, the game underperformed in Japan,[47] and was outsold by Pikmin 3, which had already been released before the launch of The Wonderful 101.[48] VG247 attributed the game's failure to the low sales of the Wii U.[49]

Their partnership continued with 2014's Bayonetta 2, which sparked controversy for being a Wii U exclusive when its predecessor is a multi-platform title.[50] According to executive producer Atsushi Inaba, the company worked with Sega to create the game's sequel. It was later cancelled in the middle of the game's development until Nintendo offered to work with the company to revive it and fund the project.[51][44] Sega only served as the game's advisor.[52] Inaba added that Nintendo did not actively interfere with the game's development, and compared its role to that of an observer.[53] Kamiya, who originally did not expect a sequel to the game,[52] served as the game's supervisor. Replacing Kamiya as the game's director is Yusuke Hashimoto. Hashimoto focused on refining the original's combat, and extending the game's replay value.[5] Bayonetta 2 received critical acclaim on its launch, with several gaming publications awarding the game a perfect score. Though Nintendo did not comment on the game's sales, the title sold only 38,828 copies in Japan in its first week of release, faring much worse than the original.[54] It became the seventh best-selling retail game in the UK in its first week of release, but sales declined significantly in the second week.[55]

The company gradually developed more and more licensed titles based on existing properties. Their partners grant them creative freedom while creating these games' gameplay.[56] Their first licensed title is The Legend of Korra (2014), based on Nickelodeon's animated series of the same name. Published by Activision, the game's story was written by Tim Hedrick, the show writer.[57] The game received a mixed reception when it was launched.[58][59][58] Following The Legend of Korra is Transformers: Devastation, based on Hasbro's Transformers: Generations. Directed by Saito, the game was designed to look and feel different from previous Transformers games.[60] The title received favorable reviews when it was released in 2015. The third licensed title, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan was released in May 2016. According to game designer Eiro Shirahama, the team watched the TMNT animated series and also played the old TMNT games for the Super Famicom while working on the game so as to understand the universe and the characters.[61] The game garnered mixed reception when it was released.[62]

In 2013, Kamiya revealed that he would like to have an opportunity to continue PlatinumGames' partnership with Nintendo, creating new properties or working on extending the universe of their existing franchises such as the Star Fox.[63] Shigeru Miyamoto who produced Star Fox Zero expressed his desire to work with external developers so that the project can have a shorter development cycle.[64] The team was asked to serve as the game's co-developer after Nintendo saw the Arwing stage of Bayonetta 2.[65][66] Zero, along with its spin-off tower defense game Star Fox Guard, was released in April 2016 to mixed reception.[67][68][69][70][71] By the end of March 2016, Minami stepped down from his position as president and CEO, with executive producer Kenichi Sato succeeded him.[72]

In 2017, Kamiya and his team were working on Scalebound for Microsoft Studios until it was cancelled in January 2017.[73] Shortly after the cancellation, creative producer Jean-Pierre Kellams left the company, while Kamiya stopped working as a director, continuing his work at PlatinumGames as vice president.[74][75] The studio collaborated with Square Enix and released Nier: Automata for Microsoft Windows and PlayStation 4.[76] Directed by Nier creator Yoko Taro, the game received critical acclaim and more than 2 million copies were sold.[77] According to Kamiya, Taro "saved" PlatinumGames after the cancellation of Scalebound and had its reputation blemished due to its licensed games which were poorly received. The positive reception of Nier Automata had sparked public interest in Platinum's work once again.[78][79] In May of the same year, Inaba announced the company was working on a new intellectual property.[80] At The Game Awards 2017, Bayonetta 3 was revealed, which will be released for the Nintendo Switch. It was also announced that ports of the first two Bayonetta games would be released for the same platform two months later.[81] At the ceremony, Nier: Automata also won in the Best Score/Music category.[82]

In April 2018, the company announced a partnership with DeNA for an action game that explores Japanese folklore for Android and iOS devices, titled World of Demons. Its development began in 2015 with 30 employees attached to it, including staff who had worked on Star Fox Zero and Bayonetta 2, and is set for release later in 2018.[83][84]

Philosophy[edit]

"I'm not really interested in working for a studio that isn't kind of a noisy, loud, clanking machine of people bumping into each other and trying to do their best, so if it's just kind of a machine that's there to make money and there to make games efficiently, it's not something that interests me".

Atsushi Inaba, co-founder of PlatinumGames

According to Inaba, the core goal of the company is to make new and original intellectual property, and that taking risks is a crucial part of video game development.[85] However, the company also worked on licensed titles later, as the team considered creating original titles "difficult", sometimes too risky, with sales that were unsatisfactory for the team. According to Minami, working on both licensed properties and original games provides the company with stability. Despite having a new focus, PlatinumGames retains their original vision of making games and the team hopes to become one of "the three top game studios in the world".[86] While PlatinumGames is a Japanese development company, the development team also attempts to add elements to their games that will attract a large global audience. Minami says that the company is keen to work with both Japanese and Western publishers.[7]

According to Inaba, the company values the idea of "change", and that "the people who are not looking for constant change are not necessarily welcome in what I think the company should be".[87] According to Minami, PlatinumGames only made games that the development team were passionate about. Inaba described the studio as "loud", as every one on the development team is allowed to express their opinions on their projects and their visions will not be compromised. The studio also invites employees who are not involved in game design, such as artists and programmers, to provide creative input to their projects.[88] Seito added that every game that company developed has a "Platinum taste". While the company developed an expertise in action games, Saito claimed that the studio learned from every project and will apply this knowledge to their new games and genres.[87] The company also hopes to innovate by introducing new elements in both original titles or licensed games. According to PlatinumGames, a good action game should be "passive" and feature a "unique selling point"; replay value that allows players to hone their skills; a strong leading character; and should not follow conventional design philosophy.[88]

Games developed[edit]

Year Game Publisher(s) Platform(s) Notes
2009 MadWorld Sega, Spike Wii N/A
Infinite Space Sega Nintendo DS Co-developed with Nude Maker
Bayonetta Sega, Nintendo Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 3, Wii U, Xbox 360 N/A
2010 Vanquish Sega Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
2012 Anarchy Reigns PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
2013 Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance Konami Android, Microsoft Windows, OS X, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
The Wonderful 101 Nintendo Wii U
2014 Bayonetta 2 Wii U, Nintendo Switch
The Legend of Korra Activision Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
2015 Transformers: Devastation
8-Bit Bayonetta Sega Browser, Microsoft Windows Co-developed with Bitbaboon
2016 Star Fox Zero Nintendo Wii U Co-developed with Nintendo EPD
Star Fox Guard
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan Activision Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One N/A
2017 Nier: Automata Square Enix Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
2018 World of Demons DeNA Android, iOS
2019 Babylon's Fall Square Enix Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4
TBA Granblue Fantasy Project Re:Link TBA PlayStation 4 Co-developed with Cygames
Lost Order Android, iOS
Bayonetta 3 Nintendo Nintendo Switch N/A
Cancelled Scalebound Microsoft Studios Microsoft Windows, Xbox One Cancelled in 2017

References[edit]

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