Hiroaki Yura previously worked on titles such as Valkyria Chronicles and Diablo III before starting an ambitious project called Project Phoenix. The project was quickly funded on Kickstarter, but not much has been heard about it since December 2015 when the indie JRPG was delayed to 2018. Speaking at PlayStation Experience 2017, Siliconera got a chance to catch up with the Yura-san, the CEO of Creative Intelligence Arts, who updated us on Project Phoenix.
First, to give you a little background info on Project Phoenix, it raised $1,014,600 from 15,802 backers in its Kickstarter campaign, but unfortunately didn’t make its Mid-2015 deadline for the game’s release. Since then, Yura-san has been busy on another project, Tiny Metal, that is being developed under his other studio Area 35 and published by Sony’s new game label Unties.
What has been the biggest obstacle for Project Phoenix?
Hiroaki Yura, Director/Producer: We could actually deliver with a bit more programming, but the fact is, if you read my updates, we aren’t happy with what Airborne Studios (an art outsourcing company used by CIA) delivered. We aren’t happy at all, it looks too cheaply made.
Tiny Metal is about to launch. What was its biggest obstacle during development?
Hiroaki Yura: We wanted to have multiplayer on release in Tiny Metal, but we couldn’t so we’re going to put it in a free patch a few months afterwards. To me a game is done, when we have multiplayer. This is a situation I don’t like.
If Tiny Metal doesn’t live up to your standards why are you releasing it now?
Hiroaki Yura: Well, we have a relationship with our publisher, Sony, and we have our promises with our investors. That’s why we need to put it out.
How do you feel about the relationship to the Project Phoenix backers? Aren’t the backers similar to investors, to some extent?
Hiroaki Yura: Not really, they are not investing. Another thing, what is not acceptable is we have not delivered what the artists wanted. They are lending me their name and their strength and I need to make sure I deliver on the part they want it to be portrayed.
I used to be a violinist. And if someone is selling a CD of my performance, I expect it to be properly mixed, properly recorded, I have proper arrangements, and I have music. If these criteria are not met, I will be very angry and say this is horrible you haven’t prepared anything. It’s the same thing with this. We felt, although we did our best with Airborne, it’s not their fault. In terms of the pipeline, it’s nobody’s fault. It’s my fault because I did not prepare enough money for that failure. I did not prepare enough time for that failure. I accept that. I would never blame the artists or the pipeline.
Look what happened to Inafune-san, he’s a friend by the way. We have lunch every few months. We talk about his experience with Mighty No. 9 and I talk about mine with Project Phoenix. He is regretting what happened because he got it done with the budget he had and a lot of people are disappointed. He didn’t deliver what he wanted to and is full of regret.
How many units of Tiny Metal need to sell to resurrect Project Phoenix?
Hiroaki Yura: 150,000 units, worldwide on all consoles.
How reasonable is that goal?
Hiroaki Yura: I think it is a lot of units.
What do you think is a reasonable amount of units for Tiny Metal to sell?
Hiroaki Yura: Probably 50,000.
How many units do you think Tiny Metal will sell?
Hiroaki Yura: Probably 100,000.
If you think you will be short 50,000 units, what do you plan to do next as a company?
Hiroaki Yura: We don’t need to discuss our internal business decisions. There are a lot of things I can’t tell you about. What I can tell you, in general, is this is not the only thing we do. We have other jobs that will basically feed us. That 50,000 [units] would be nice to concentrate on this, but if we can’t do that we can do recordings. We can do other work. We can do programming work for other companies. If we make the right game we hope, it will sell. If we don’t, it won’t sell. Then it will be another challenge to get Project Phoenix’s budget.
Project Phoenix is being made for PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, PC, iPhone, and Android. Tiny Metal releases on December 21, 2017 for PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC.