PlatinumGames have denied rumors that Microsoft have offered to buy the company, along with stating such an action would be “the opposite” of their self-publishing objectives.
The news comes via Video Games Chronicle (VGC). While Head of Xbox Phil Spencer expressed interest in acquiring a Japanese studio last year, PlatinumGames executive director and producer Atsushi Inaba told VGC that PlatinumGames would not be one of them.
Speaking to VGC, Inaba reportedly stated that such a buyout would be “the opposite” of what PlatinumGames is trying to achieve with its venture into self-publishing.
“I did read some rumours about Xbox wanting to purchase PlatinumGames,” Inaba said, “and I thought, ‘people on the internet write the craziest stuff’, because that conversation has not come to our doorstep at all.”
“That said, we’re not Microsoft, so we don’t know what happens behind their doors, we don’t know if they had any thoughts about it possibly.
We’ve not had any talks like that, but I think even if it was a possibility, we’re now going into more independent self-publishing.
It’s not that we’re disinterested in Microsoft, but if the relationship were to be us working under their direction, I feel like that would be the opposite of what we’re trying to do now and limit our possibilities. Any opportunities that would limit our freedom I think we would be against.”
The news should not be surprising, considering how Microsoft cancelled PlatinumGames’ Scalebound. “Sorry to bring you such bad news at the start of the year,” game director Hideki Kamiya stated after the cancellation. “All I can do for you is to promise to keep delivering fun games. […] I’ll work extra hard to never have to let you down like this again, so I hope you will keep watching over us in the future too.”
Director and designer Hideki Kamiya reportedly stated to VGC “Maybe somebody reminded them that I’m still at the studio, and they were like, ‘right then, forget that! We’re not going to acquire them!'”
Xbox have been attempting to break into the Japanese market since its inception. Market research company IDC stated (via CNBC) that as of 2019 only 0.3% of Xbox One global sales are made in Japan. Consider the other two of the “Big Three” are Japanese companies- Nintendo and PlayStation- this is hardly a surprise.
Famitsu reported in 2018 that the Xbox One sold an estimated 15,339 units over that year, and 102,931 since launch by that point. For comparison, the Nintendo Switch had sold an estimated 3,482,388 units that year (6,889,546 cumulatively), while the PlayStation 4 sold an estimated 1,695,227 units (7,552,090 cumulatively).
VGC asked Kamiya how Microsoft could improve its position in Japan. He stated Microsoft “could do more to market towards actual Japanese gamers’ tastes.”
“I would say that ever since the Xbox has been introduced to the Japanese market it’s always felt like something foreign and far away. It doesn’t feel like it’s ever been cultivated for Japanese tastes.
It reminds me of the NES and Super NES days when I had to go to these really niche game stores to get foreign games you could only get through import. They weren’t localised to Japan or anything, they were just imports that you were kind of buying just to have this rare token as a gamer.”
Inaba agreed, adding “I agree with the foreign feeling nature of the hardware, but I also admire that Phil wants to try hard in Japan. I would love to give him some advice, but I also feel that the success route into Japan has not always been about having the best hardware.”
“Sometimes it’s about familiarity,” Inaba explained. “The biggest exception is the iPhone, but that was able to break in because it just took the world over – and it’s not easy to make something of that momentum every day. It’s a tough question that I don’t know the answer to.”
We will keep you informed as we learn more.