At Gamescom this year, Tekken 7 producer and co-director Katsuhiro Harada discussed developing the game using Unreal Engine 4 with GameCentral, explaining why it’s such a significant change for the team. In the same interview, Harada also touched on why the next chapter of the Tekken series is poised to launch successfully regardless of the genre’s level of popularity. An excerpt of the interview can be read below, and the entire interview can be read here.
GC: In your presentation you put a great deal of emphasis on the use of Unreal Engine 4, why do you feel that’s so important? I get the impression it’s not just about the better graphics?
KH: I don’t know if you’re familiar with the way Japanese develop games, but in the past they had their own propriety engine. But even more so, at least for Namco, each title developed their own code pretty much from scratch. So obviously it took a lot of time before you could actually start to develop things on-screen. So, especially for Tekken this time, it was a great benefit to have things being displayed immediately. And also the physics being handled by the engine itself, rather than our programmers having to code everything from scratch.
GC: And what do you feel is the current health of the fighting game genre? You may see things slightly differently, but it seemed to me as if the success of Street Fighter IV created a renaissance for all fighters, but that, especially with the failure of Street Fighter V, that new golden era is perhaps coming to an end. Tekken 7 is now one of the few major new fighters on the horizon, and I wonder if you worry about the genre returning to just being a niche concern?
KH: I guess your assessment is accurate, and that maybe Street Fighter IV revived at least that franchise, and so maybe other fighting games gained a bit of popularity as a result. But if you look a little bit further, like at before that, you can go back to the ‘90s and right until 2000. There was a bunch of fighting games out, not just from Japan but people from around the world were making them. And then they just kind of stopped all of a sudden. And even the Street Fighter series, they stopped at III and it took 10 years until IV.
And in that time Tekken had constantly continued to produce new games, first arcade versions and then console/arcade. And there’s never been a gap that long in-between. It’s one of the only fighting games that has managed to do that, because there were some fighting games that disappeared from arcades and some that were halted altogether. So there’s always been a popularity of the genre that ebbs and flows, but Tekken’s been pretty consistent because we continually update the franchise.
You could even say that fighting game popularity affects each other. For example, Street Fighter became popular again and other 2D fighters became popular, to some extent. When Virtua Fighter was strong there was a rivalry with Tekken and that kind of boosted both of the games. But even without the benefit of those, just maintaining [installments] every few years for the Tekken franchise has led to us having a healthy fanbase. So, we haven’t really had any negative effect from the wane of the genre.