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Father of PlayStation Ken Kutaragi on Rumors, the Industry, and Nintendo

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ken kutaragi harada's bar

“The Father of PlayStation” Ken Kutaragi sat down with Katsuhiro Harada in the latest episode of his weekly talk show, Harada’s Bar. The two men shared stories on the past, present, and future of the video game industry. Among the topics were personal rumors, working with Nintendo, the importance of free publicity, and accepting change. We have summarized some of the highlights below.

The discussion kicked off with Kutaragi reminiscing over the original PlayStation’s hardware launch. Kutaragi wanted to put together a pre-launch event for multiple companies and developers. However, none of the companies’ higher-ups were interested. Every company refused the invitation, because they didn’t want their developers to get poached. The reason being, in the past, game developers didn’t receive public credit on games because companies didn’t want their developers to get offered positions with competitors. This practice still occurs today in pockets of the industry, with freelance translators often being denied credits. Kutaragi believed that method wasn’t right, and he wanted to change it.

Ken Kutaragi on Rumors

Kutaragi also addressed rumors about him on Harada’s Bar. The host brought up the incident of Kutaragi throwing an ashtray in a fit of anger during a business meeting. He said this was untrue, but stories like these even ended up on Wikipedia. One rumor that might have been true, though, involved the PlayStation 2. When developing the hardware, many departments from Sony joined in after the success of the PS1. According to Kutaragi, these departments did not entirely understand the PS2’s concept, and they viewed the PlayStation as a toy. When going through UI choices, Kutaragi angrily declared that “PlayStation is not a toy.” He also recounted his experiences fighting with upper management who weren’t interested in Sony releasing video games. Kutaragi said those voices didn’t have imagination and only looked at the past, not the future.

Getting Along with Nintendo

Additionally, Kutaragi even discussed working with Nintendo on the Super Famicom leading up to the PlayStation’s creation. He said that he loved working with Nintendo’s Masayuki Uemura and his team, stating that they all got along. Kutaragi claimed the media and outside perspectives have always misregarded them as fighting. However, according to Kutaragi, the companies weren’t fighting at all, and he never considered Nintendo to be a competitor. This era in gaming ended up becoming free publicity for Sony, Nintendo, and Sega. Kutaragi said the media was just making conflict to make things sound interesting. However, he also knew that the industry would grow thanks to how the media reported on it.

Kutaragi ended the guest appearance by talking about the future of the industry. He mentioned that he predicted the concept of cloud gaming back in the mid-2000s, and he stressed the importance of accepting change. Furthermore, he was critical of people who wait for a consensus and do not embrace change, specifically stating that this is the current state in Japan. You can check out the full discussion between the two in the 35-minute-long video on YouTube.

Harada is a very outspoken developer in the gaming industry. His claim to fame is the long-running Tekken series by Bandai Namco. He recently spoke about the difficulties of COVID-19 during development on another Bandai Namco talk show.

Harada runs his own YouTube talk show, Harada’s Bar, releasing episodes weekly.

Oni Dino
Oni Dino is a Japanese-English translator, localization editor, and podcaster. He has several video game credits and regularly translates columns from Masahiro Sakurai and Shigeru Miyamoto. When not knee-deep in a JRPG and wishing games had more environmental story-telling, he's attending industry events and interviewing creative auteurs to share their stories.