Shooting Games Are At A Difficult Crossroad, Says Shmup Developer G.Rev’s CEO

By Spencer . August 22, 2013 . 2:51am

"While we have seen more shoot ’em ups developed on consoles this generation, the market for shooters has been shrinking. Cave, makers of Akai Katana and Deathsmiles, is going through a transition. G.rev recently released Kokuga in the West and Siliconera asked Hiroyuki Maruyama, the CEO of G.rev, his thoughts about the state of the shooting game market.




"Yes, the current shooting market in Japan is at a very difficult crossroads. I am certain that the genre will not fade away at the dojin level, but in terms of an incorporated studio, to put it bluntly – you are not able to make a living on just making shooters," Maruyama said. G.rev’s history is in arcade games and shooters. The company co-developed Ikaruga with Treasure and also made Under Defeat HD and Mamorukun Curse! which were also released here.


"With that in mind, you can say that we made Kokuga to target a more general audience. Since you can play with up to four people with only one copy of the game, we hope that established shmup fans will use the game to promote the genre to new gamers," Maruyama added.


G.rev’s next project is developing a new Game Center CX or Retro Game Challenge title with Namco Bandai. I asked Maruyama about transitioning to other genres and what kind of game he would like G.rev to try. "Actually, we have developed quite a few titles outside of the shooting genre. Most of those projects were contracted work, so the G.rev name was not featured on those games. So, as in the past, we will continue to develop games across a variety of genres in the future," said Maruyama. "We would be interested in developing games in a number of genres. Personally, I would like to try to make a multiplayer action title. We will, of course, continue to make shooters as well."


We will have more discussion about G.rev’s shooters on Siliconera soon.

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  • FetusZero

    I have the solution.. G.Rev and Cave shmups can become doujins and release their games on PC. Which means they will survive, can concentrate on more popular genres on consoles, and we will finally never have to worry about the stupid region locking ever again.

    • Tincho D

      Steam exists, the western market exists, etc.

      • TrevHead

        ATM Steam is a no go for anything doujin, I don’t believe a single doujin has been released since Greenlight came out, never mind a STG.

        • FetusZero

          You mark a very good point even though I wouldn’t want them on Steam. If there HAD to be a digital “client”, I’d pick Desura anytime over it. But my favorite option would be a physical release that we can import or a digital download available directly from them on their official websites.

          I do feel like Greenlight literally killed the indie side of Steam..

          • Shady Shariest

            It’s sad, because i actively vote there…

            Seeing just random shooters and nigh-excactly the same first- person-horror-adventure-unity games most of the time -_-‘

            I kinda wish Steam-people would actually watch over the Greenlight… I swear to god there must be more games at the required votes…

      • M’iau M’iaut

        The fight there is going to be getting the Steam community or someone at Valve directly to pay attention. The animosity towards just about anything with an anime feel shows up time and again on a games greenlight page. The folks at the top cannot be unaware of the doujin scene but so far have made no attempt to give that side of the ocean much of a chance.

        • pekikuubik

          Then partner with a publisher that can bypass Greenlight… which they’ll probably have to do anyway if they want a localisation. Or put the game on other digital outlets. GOG, for example, unveiled a new program for indie games just the other day. There’s Desura. There’s Humble Bundle. There are many other indie game stores and bundles.

          It’s not like options are limited in the Western PC market.

          • M’iau M’iaut

            Sadly it really is still limited. The GOG news is very welcome but Kongregate hasn’t shown itself willing to go after other targets and AMZN uses Valve as its backbone for games. The JP indies and the ELVN market pretty much has had to do everything through their own storefronts, at price points that will not get new folks to try an unknown product.

        • TrevHead

          Valve did go to that Bitsummit to teach Japanese indies about Steamworks and common dev tools.

          So that’s not to say that Valve doesn’t want japanese games the problem is that Valve has gotten quite greedy recently and want’s every game they allow onto Steam to be sure fire hits, anything else is thrown into greenlight were the dev must do the leg work into making the game popular.

          Such a scheme is no good for anything underground like traditional STG and doujin genres unless it’s something on par with the quirky Recettear.

          The fact that the greenlight system is catching on elsewhere is very troubling for me.

          • M’iau M’iaut

            Sad that, since the cost to leave what are tiny games size wise just up to grab a download here or there should be darn near nil to Steam by this time.

    • pekikuubik

      Seriously. I’d imagine Cave’s games would print money if they were on Steam/GOG at a reasonable price point.

  • pimpalicious

    I really like Under Defeat and Mamorukun Curse(still have plenty to do on this one), fun games. I didn’t G.Rev was working on a RGC title, too bad it won’t release in the west most likely. I loved the one for the DS.

    • Aoshi00

      Yeah under defeat was great and mamorukun curse was cute but a very deep game. There’s definitely a lot to do, I bought from PSN even though I alrdy have the 360 ver. I haven’t gotten kokuga from eshop yet, too bad we didn’t get a physical copy as I collect shmups. I liked both senko no ronde too.

  • landlock

    I love to know how other genres make a profit as well sometimes. Genres like VN in Japan and Point’n’click adventures in Europe. They seem to pump out so many at such a rate. People can’t buy them all. There rather niche genres as well.

    • TrevHead

      That’s true as there is alot of STGs on the 360, but unlike other genres STG’s are hard and have many hours worth of gameplay making it so that even if the genre died off, players could keep themselves busy with the existing catalogue.

      I guess one such avenue devs could take is to double down on their existing fanbase. Release less full priced STGs but make Black Label / arrange mode DLC and release them at staggered intervals to keep their playerbase happy. Also learning an arrange mode is alot quicker to do than learning a completly new STG, making it so the fanbase won’t be playing catch up all the time.

      For example

      Mushihimisama 3 £50 std ed (has one novice mode and an arrange free on disk)
      week 2 Arrange A mode DLC 800MSP
      Week 6 Arrange B mode DLC 800MSP
      Week 12 Mushi 3 Black label DLC 1600MSP
      Week 18 Muchi 3 Black label arrange 600MSP
      Week 22 Mushi 3 arrange mode collectors Ed (disk) £40 (like DDP Resurrection Black Label) has an extra arrange mode added like Ketsuipatchi

    • 60hz

      Profit margins is key, shmups take a bit more resources & time (thus more money) to make than a VN…

  • Tincho D

    I wish Cave localized more of its games. Fuck having to depend on ebay and the such.

  • zferolie

    Um… Touhou seems to be doing perfectly well… maybe these other shooters are doing something wrong?

    • BlueTree

      Awkward, bro.

      • zferolie

        Well, I didn’t mean to be awkward, I just find it interested that they are saying SHMUPS are struggling in japan, yet Touhou still does amazing, despite it being made by just one guy.

        I think they should look at touhou and see what keeps drawing them in(music, characters, difficulty, LOL ZUn art)

        • Brandonmkii

          A small team has a wider margin for profit when compared to a studio dedicated to it. Touhou is a special case because the fandom is huge, so it’s no surprise it’s doing well, but other small teams probably don’t enjoy that level of success.

          • zferolie

            Yeah, and just a 1 man team well really turn a profit(Off topic, but I wonder if Dust and Elysian Tail made a profit because it was made by 1 guy almost fully, though there were VA’s to pay)

            But something drew those fans to touhou in the first place. I mean, touhou wasn’t always such a big name. Sure, having a 1 man studio makes it cheaper to produce, and those automatically making it easier to turn a profit, touhou didn’t become huge because of that.

          • Brandonmkii

            Ironically, most touhou fans I’ve met got into the music and the characters first, then the games, and I still know a lot of fans who don’t play/don’t know about the games.

          • zferolie

            I admit, I first got introduced to the series due to the flash, Marisa Stole the Precious Thing” I had no idea what it was, so I started to look it up, and got hooked into the series. I suck at the games, but I love the characters, the spell cards, and the music.

            I guess that shows how powerful the world ZUN made is. Not sure if it is feasible for another company to do something like ZUN did, but maybe if they can create an interesting narrative, characters, and story, that it may grab some more people.

          • Yause

            Touhou emulates what’s done within anime and manga subculture (mixed media view of a franchise encompassing games, music, fan works, character merchandise, etc.), only with a special emphasis on derivative works, so what they do isn’t extraordinary. These things are often derided as “character games” or “character shows” since popularity hinges more on the appeal of the characters are than on the product itself.

            The strategy isn’t as effective for products that aren’t aimed at a “moe otaku” (or “fujoshi”) audience.

            Veteran developers tend to play it straight, focusing solely on the game. Some companies have begun pushing the character/mixed media agenda (for example, Index and their commercialization of Persona. And of course, otaku-oriented companies like Aquaplus have done it for years), but this still isn’t something that most are accustomed to.

          • zferolie

            I see. I can see the pluses and minuses for both methods. I suppose not every SHMUP would be able to use Touhou’s method.

            Still, I am wondering what these companies to do to help sells/make more people interested?

        • BlueTree

          Touhou games target a very specific, niche market. Developers like G.Rev are trying to make games that work under a larger, business oriented model. They are at odds with that model in that their genre is struggling to maintain relevance in a market where arcades are fading from existence. Touhou can exist because it doesn’t depend on turning huge swaths of capital.

          • zferolie

            hmm, that is a good point you make. It is true that those arcade style games are become more and more niche every year.

            Perhaps the current business model that works for other genres doesn’t work with SHMUPS. Heck, it doesn’t seem to work with a lot of niche games, and heck, even some JRPG’s.

            I wonder if ZUN wanted to make a lot of money, could he? Is the reason why Touhou is so huge because he rejects that model, and is very humble? If somehow he started release the games on consoles, but nothing else about the games changed(price to make excluded due to the rights needed to put the game on said consoles), would it be a success?

          • BlueTree

            I’m no business man, but it is clear that there are options in terms of a digital market. I’m not sure if those are the kind of games that these developers want to make, it’s clear that Maruyama distinguishes his company from smaller, fan digital released games because of the very fundamentally different ways in which they approach creating and then releasing their work.

            What they feel is feasible or where they’d want to be ideally isn’t something I can pretend to know. I just know that what works for one won’t work for the other, in this case.

          • zferolie

            Yeah, I can;t say I am an expert in the field. I am sure they have people working for them that have done the research and everything. Though I do wonder if they have a bit too much pride to do full digital.

            Don’t get me wrong, I would prefer a physical copy of digital any day, but it it’s the difference of getting the game made or not, I would go to digital.

          • Yause

            Digital still hasn’t flown off in Japan. North America is a different matter, but I get the impression that these companies see the region as a secondary market (a nice addition to pad one’s bottom line but not a market to depend on) at best. Consequently, product strategy revolves around what works with Japanese customers.

            As for Maruyama, I think his point on doujin vs commericial developers is a matter of cost. Incorporated studios have overheads and must pay a permanent staff. However, doujin devs work out of their homes (many being hobbyists who don’t depend on development as their main source of income) and may not even be paid during development. Furthermore, doujin games attract a following that isn’t as concerned with production values or polish.

          • BlueTree

            I mean, you’re preaching to the choir here. I’m kind of slighted that you feel my comment somehow invites an explanation of all that, heh.


      touhou games are in a totally diferent situation from shmups that are on the consoles and arcade market, dude. Touhou has spread to alot of things that isn’t SHMUP related and don’t have the same budget as say Akai Katana on the 360

      • zferolie

        It’s true that Touhou has spread also into fighting games. I am curious what the Budget of a touhou game is. Must be pretty small, at least the main number ones.

        As for it being a different market, I guess that is true, though I wonder if ZUN ever put touhou onto the console market and made it main stream, would it get a lot more popular, or just struggle as much as the other SHMUP’s(If we don’t count the current fanbase as part of sells, because that fanbase alone will make them lots of money)


          ZUN already stated that he won’t put touhou into the mainstream market. he already refused alot of deals that wanted to do a touhou game for a console from some high profiles companies. The only touhou in a console that i ever had seen was for the psp and this one is a fanmade game

          • zferolie

            Oh yeah, I know ZUN would never do it. My what if is just a hypothetical one that I know won’t happen, but wanted to wonder how it would do if somehow it did.

            Touhou was technically in 2 consoles. That PSP Nendoroid one(which I want to play), and Grafiti kingdom for the PS2, though no actual touhou names were used. See, ZUN worked on that game, and actually included a character called, FLying Shrine Maiden, who looks like Reimu.

          • I’m sorry to sound blunt, but it can seem rude to compare Touhou to other more mainstream companies.

            What ZUN has achieved is incomparable to other companies, as it stretches both beyond being just a shmup, and is so popular that people have even argued Touhou to move to dedicated cons to give other non-touhou doujin artists an opportunity to shine.

            I understand you’re just speculating, but it will not happen, and I also feel that a more accurate comparison is the mainstream company, Cave.

            This is not a question of making a particular franchise popular, but maintaining the health of an entire genre. It would take more than one franchise to maintain that balance.

            For a long time, Cave have been the leading runners, but after Saidaijoujou, things started to just become… quiet? Hopefully the shmup market can witness another technical boom to raise its awareness.

          • zferolie

            Funny you should say that, because Touhou actually does have it’s very own convention Reitaisai.

            But yeah, I wasn’t trying to be rude or a jerk by making this comparison. I’m sorry if it came out that way.

            Speaking of Cave, I haven’t sadly palyed many of their stuff, but I know of them and watched some videos, and I do like how it looks. Heck, they even got into Neptunia, so it shows they are a major player.

            I really hope the SHMUP market gets a boom somehow. I hate to see any game genre die out, because we miss out of great games an experiences that way.

    • Chris Cruz

      It’d be.. absolutely impossible to properly localize the Touhou Franchise.

      • zferolie

        I wasn’t talking about localizing…

    • 60hz

      logic… FAIL

  • drproton

    It doesn’t bother me whether a game is indie or from a publisher.

    Touhou is plenty fun for me.

  • Mentioning GCCX’s third foray into the gaming world, did you ask if there would be a chance to see the title stateside? I’d put some cash down on it, easily.


    I hope that Senko no Ronde is doing good for them

  • Brion Valkerion

    It seriously boggles my mind that the shump devs are STILL not on digital services. Steam, PSN, XBL ect. are the perfect areas to release these games.

    • TrevHead

      There is a good number of STG’s on XBLA, Steam (dunno about PS3) most were flops or had so-so sales. As there simply isn’t enough ppl into the genre to support it.

      The only viable option is to sell STG at a premium to make as much $ from each STG fan as possible. And even that way is becoming unviable for STG devs.

      • TheHolypopeofgaming

        PS3 has alot of classic and Indie Shmups.

    • 60hz

      Tons of shmups on both xbl, and psn – where have you been?

  • TrevHead

    I was pinning my hopes on STG moving to the WIIU and using the touchpad to convert iphone STG players onto the bigscreen.

    STG is in trouble though as unlike 5-10 years ago when the genre was underground devs could rely on the arcade. Nowadays arcades aren’t so popular in Japan for that to happen. Infact Japan moving to handhelds / phones has made big screen arcade games harder to do.

  • Logan Moll

    Wouldn’t not region locking their games and making them more easily importable to the West help these companies make more money? That seems like an extremely easy first step. That’s money on the table that they choose to not grab.

    • 60hz

      marginal increase at the most.

      • Logan Moll

        An increase is an increase. It would take no extra work. It’s just a matter of not region locking. Also, look at how much importers are willing to pay for these games via import shops and eBay. Why not just get that money for themselves? Bottom line is, it’s money left on the table.

        • TrevHead

          Generally with STGs on the 360 if the Japanese original is region locked it dooms any chance of it been picked up by western localisers. That’s why Grev and a couple of CAVE STGs are localised and Qute’s STG’s are not.

          That said the bubble seems to have burst in the west and I doubt we will be seeing any new STG localisations, which is a shame as I’d love to play Mushi HD and Caladarious as they are locked.

  • benhofb

    This is pretty sad, but of course, I can see where they are coming from. Shmups don’t have a following that big anymore, which is a crying shame. The thing I loved about shmups was that they were so easy to play and continue playing – sometimes mindlessly. I still like going into something like Ibara for PS2 and turning bullets off, just to go around shooting…

  • TheHolypopeofgaming

    Time for G.Rev to make a fighter

    • TrevHead

      They have, Senko No Ronde 1 & 2 (wartech on western 360s)

      • TheHolypopeofgaming

        That isn’t even close to a fighting game it’s more confusing impossible to control Virtual on

  • xxx128

    Well shooters were a lot more classy and fun before bullet hell and polygons.
    *hint* *hint*

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