GungHo CEO Talks About Picotto Knights, Working With Grasshopper Manufacture

By Spencer . May 24, 2013 . 8:03pm

While Puzzle & Dragons is GungHo Online Entertainment’s breakout hit, they also own a number of other Japanese studios like Game Arts, Acquire, and Grasshopper Manufacture. In this interview Kazuki Morishita talks about the company’s other plans and what happened to Final Fantasy XI producer Hiromichi Tanaka.




How is Picotto Knights doing? [Picotto Knighs is an online enabled belt action RPG from Game Arts.]


Kazuki Morishita, CEO: I’m glad you asked about this. The idea of monetizing through stamina and continues was originally part of Picotto Knights’ gameplay.


Oh, really? It was in development for that long?


We changed the features for Picotto Knights multiple times. Well, sort of. We kept pushing back the release schedule because I wanted to change a lot of stuff in the game.


How has it been doing in Japan? It’s interesting because it’s a free to play game for Vita, a model that’s just starting to emerge for the platform with Picotto Knights and Samurai & Dragons.


As you said, the free to play market for consoles is a different market. We were confident the business model will transition to consoles well. We got enough data as an experiment for this new idea. Since it was on the Vita, we believe if the Vita sold as much as smartphones did it would have done much better.




Acquire is doing more Vita too with MIND≒0 can you tell us more about that game?


MIND≒0 isn’t a game I’m directly involved in so I don’t have much information about it. I’m directly involved with the GungHo titles and Game Arts titles. Acquire is still handling their studio.


The game reminded me of Class of Heroes with a Persona vibe. Will GungHo Online Entertainment America bring this over?


The idea was it’s a fantasy, dungeon crawling RPG and we played with the art style a little bit. No specific plans for now since we haven’t started the localization phase. Since it is a GungHo group title we will talk about it internally and see if it makes sense.


gunfa After acquiring Acquire, you acquired Grasshopper Manufacture.


Yes, I got along very well with Suda-san. That was pretty much the main reason. We connected very strongly on how we create games and have a similar vision. The prospect came from Suda-san himself and initially I was not interested because it would add a lot more creative work for me. I was going to say no, but as we met again and again after the first meeting we started to get along and we started talking about ideas.


It’s interesting when you talk about creativity since Grasshopper Manufacture usually develops games that are quite different from Game Arts and GungHo Online Entertainment. They tend to focus on edgy dark action games or parody action games. Where does Grasshopper Manufacture fit into your overall strategy? Is it to expand further in the West?


Not really. The biggest reason is because Suda-san has his own taste and creative mindset that is very different from my ideas. If we can collaborate together and work off each other’s ideas we can bring new ideas to the world.


Read more about the Grasshopper Manufacture and GungHo Online Entertainment title here.


Will GungHo Online Entertainment America publish Grasshopper Manufacture’s titles in the future?


Generally speaking, yes. As these games come from the GungHo brand it makes sense that GungHo Online Entertainment America releases these titles. However, there is always an opening for partnerships and we will act on what makes sense at that time. While GungHo America will generally release all of GungHo Japan’s titles, there will be different choices sometimes as well.


Can you explain your creative process compared to Suda-san’s?


In terms of how Suda-san comes up with ideas he starts with a general idea of world setting and the storyline. I’m more focused on the game system and rules.


That’s completely different.


For me, it’s very exciting. When I can put my ideas together like the systems or gameplay and put that together with Suda-san’s worlds is something that couldn’t happen if I was working alone.


The CEO of Acquire, Endo-san, has a unique way of developing games too and Suda-san also has a unique process.


[Laughs] Infernally in GungHo Japan, we have unique minded people. For example, people who worked on the Final Fantasy series and ex-Square Enix people as well. Hiromichi Tanaka (the producer on Final Fantasy XI) is part of the GungHo Japan team as well. We are definitely a company is focused on creating new and fun games.


What is one new genre you want to try making?


There are many things I want to try out. One of the things is an open world game.


That is a popular genre here. How would you make something different?


An open world game where you are asynchronously connected is a game I’m interested in. MMORPGs are exhausting. I’m very interested in creating an open world game that you don’t have to rely on other players.

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  • ShadowDivz

    Intresting enough. I always like these interviews but i gotta ask.
    How do you get in touch with them?

    • Public relations or marketing probably

  • Will Grasshopper still be able to collaborate with other publishers, e.g. with Marvelous for another NMH game or Capcom for some kind of re-release/revival of Killer7?

    • Solomon_Kano

      I’d think it’s possible. It’s just that negotiations would have to begin higher up, between GungHo and Capcom rather than between GHM and Capcom.

      I mean, Namco Bandai’s worked with Tecmo Koei, Capcom’s worked with Namdai, Atlus with Nintendo, etc. So there’s certainly precedent for different publishers coming together to make a project happen.

      • I suppose so. I was thinking more along the lines of Monolith Soft and Namco; even after being purchased by Nintendo, they’ve still worked on a handful of Namco-published games and IPs. Though that situation is a little bit different, since Namco Bandai still retains partial ownership of Monolith, while (as far as I know) Capcom and Marvelous have no actual business stake in Grasshopper.

        • Solomon_Kano

          Yea, GHM is wholly owned by GungHo with no involvement from Capcom or Marvelous, so that is a bit different. Monolith’s about the only analogous situation I can recall to what you’re asking. But, yea, certainly no reason Marvelous or Capcom can’t approach GungHo and make it happen.

          Actually, do we know that Marvelous owns the NMH IP? I know K7 is Capcom’s, but there are some cases where the dev’s kept the IP rather than the publisher. I didn’t really follow NMH’s development, so any idea if that’s the case there?

          • Pretty sure Marvelous owns the IP. The “Heroes’ Paradise” port of the first game was made without Grasshopper’s involvement or input.

          • Solomon_Kano

            Ah, you’re right. I forgot all about Heroes Paradise. Yea, I believe feelplus handled that.

    • SeventhEvening

      From Suda’s point of view, he is doing another NMH game and a revival of Killer 7. He considers Killer7, NMH, and Killer is Dead to be one series, at least, that’s how he’s been talking about them since announcing Killer is Dead. As for a re-release of Killer7, Capcom could do it without GHM since they own the IP. But….I wouldn’t hold my breath for that to happen.

  • AnimusVox

    Open world you say? Yes, please.

  • Solomon_Kano

    Infernally in GungHo Japan, we have unique minded people.

    Oh no!

    Jokes aside, I very much enjoyed this. He sounds like a cool guy. It’s interesting that Grasshopper becoming part of GungHo was a proposition made on Suda’s end. I wouldn’t have expected that, but it’s cool that it ended up coming together because the two got on so well.

    And I certainly hope they make that open-world game happen! Would be awesome with all the talent floating around at GungHo.

  • Testsubject909

    Am I the only one who, halfway through the article, got distracted by… um… a white bow?

    • Sylveria

      Yes.. its such a nice.. bow.

  • That Open-World game sounds super awesome! Someday, hopefully~

  • TheExile285

    Wait, did I miss something? Are we still getting PK in NA?

  • The-Beast

    Hopefully someone will bring MIND≒0 over !

    Also, it’s off-topic but how do I get BlazBlue Continuum Shift Extend for free on Ps Plus ? I just got a Vita today and joined the program, but I don’t see BB there, is it not available yet or it was already pulled out from the Instant game collection ?

    • M’iau M’iaut

      If the game is no longer on the free side, that means the window to make the initial ‘purchase’ has passed. Most of the games of note are handled this way.

      In the future, please try not to spam the same post/request across numerous threads. Our community checks out most of our news and is always willing to respond.

  • T-X

    Yuuuuus, please. We need more studios other than Bethesda making quality open-world titles :F

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