Earlier this week, PlatinumGames producer Atsushi Inaba not-so-subtly let slip an interesting tidbit: The company’s rocket-boosting action game Vanquish may be coming to PC.
The winking non-announcement happened in an interview with Kotaku during last month’s Bit Summit in Tokyo, where Inaba suggested he could speak more freely off-the-record about any apparent plans to bring Vanquish to Steam.
KOTAKU: It would be a good idea to release Vanquish on PC.
INABA: (smiling) Hrm. I wonder… If you stop recording, I can talk about that. (laughs)
Inaba, of course, is right, and he knows it. Platinum is well known for creating high-octane over-the-top action games like Metal Gear Rising, Bayonetta, and the aforementioned Vanquish — Shinji Mikami’s one-time sci-fi experiment that lets you slow time and slide along the ground in a high-powered futuristic battle suit.
The studio should do all it can to break out of the niche market Japanese games often find themselves in.
Inaba says as much elsewhere in the interview, revealing that Platinum has a surprisingly strong relationship with Valve, thinks often about Steam and fully knows the necessity of appealing to PC players, given its popularity in the global marketplace.
To date, Platinum has had few Steam releases — only Metal Gear Rising and its three licensed games TMNT, Transformers, and Legend of Korra are thus far available on the platform — perhaps because of legal issues between the studio and Sega, who own the rights to Vanquish, Bayonetta, and Anarchy Reigns, among other Platinum-developed titles.
Despite an explicit confirmation for Vanquish, it seems clear that Inaba is prepping for the future, as he well should be. But the prospect of one of Platinum’s biggest (and arguably it’s best — fight me) games gaining the additional attention and sales of a PC port is a good one for Japanese games in general.
Talk to almost any native developer and they’ll express concern or dissatisfaction with the conservative nature of console game making in Japan; apart from fewer companies having the nerve to take risks on original ideas, many have simply migrated primarily to mobile games, leaving smaller numbers of fans buying traditional high production console titles.
The evidence of Japanese decline is, likewise, everywhere. Hideo Kojima is the most prominent example, having gone through a seemingly bitter feud with ex-publisher Konami.
His former publisher appeared to adopt a scorched earth approach when it came to attributing him with Metal Gear Solid, in any way, where the most anticipated series entry was released.
While it may never be clear exactly what sparked the fire, it’s been rumored that concerns over the cost of the game’s development caused Konami to worry MGSV would not sell enough copies back to make a profit. (They were wrong, of course.)
MGSV is also one of the biggest examples of a Japanese game getting PC support in recent memory. While porting games to PC isn’t necessarily a solution to the decline of Japanese gamemakers — that is a global problem tied to a industry that often faces ballooning development costs almost as bad as Hollywood — it could make a significant difference in sales.
As it stands, more developers are considering, if not outright embracing, PC ports. After approaching the series with a less-than-stellar first attempt porting Dark Souls, the FromSoftware PC fanbase has grown to the point where the series arguably wouldn’t necessarily have the same reach without it — the extra word of mouth and exposure which probably hasn’t hurt either. (MGSV had a Steam release of its own, as well.)
Considering Platinum’s position as a leader in third-person action games, Vanquish on PC would be particularly smart, adding more to the cause of getting Japanese games better sales and more exposure. For its part, Platinum has been working with licensed IPs as a reported stopgap measure before diving into its own developer-owned projects.
The company wants to branch out, and as a leader of Japanese development, it definitely should. If that means bringing Vanquish, and hopefully other titles in the future to Steam, there’s no reason not to jump on it.