|Hang on… this isn’t Puzzle & Dragons!|
There was a bit of a stir around some recent comments made by GungHo’s CEO and President, Kazuki Morishita.
“I want to top Nintendo’s sales by the time I retire,” Morishita said in an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek. That same story delves quite deeply into the success of one particular game, Puzzle & Dragons, that helped GungHo’s share value temporarily overtake Nintendo’s earlier this year. That game also helped the company to 30.9 billion yen ($307 million) in revenue in the three months ended March (about a third of Nintendo’s revenue for the same period).
Doing what games journalism is doing best these days, a number of sites did a copy/ paste from that interview. Games Industry, for instance, adds nothing whatsoever to the Bloomberg Report. Nintendo Life even manages to spin things to imply that GungHo is only just now finding success despite being around for over a decade.
But then you look at the comments in the Nintendo Life website, and it quickly becomes evident how dangerous this copy/ paste approach to journalism is. Too many people have the wrong idea about this company, and no one seems to be correcting these assumptions.
The reality is that GungHo is becoming an important developer and publisher in Japan for far more than a single game. For a start (and Businessweek actually mentions this, which should have been a sign that it’s important even if you are copy/ pasting the story), it’s now owned by SoftBank, one of the largest telecommunications companies in Japan. This is important because it means the company will in turn have access to greater resourcing than it did previously to grow its presence and aggressively pursue game projects. GungHo’s games will become bigger productions targeting more and more customers.
That’s a top line view, but one thing that all the media (including Bloomberg) seem to ignore is far more worrying from the point of view that journalism is meant to be about accuracy; GungHo’s success is not due to a single game. Nor is the casual audience that that one game is currently attracting the only audience GungHo has access to. Contrary to a large number of the comments in Nintendo Life seem to believe (and the only reason they would believe that is that they’re reading about it on websites that are reporting on GungHo in this way), GungHo is not, in any way, a casual publisher, the second coming of Zynga or anything else. It has a remarkably wide and diverse portfolio of games, and that is why it is a company worth paying attention to.
In addition to its casual play, it maintains a number of MMO franchises and a popular series called Ragnarok Odyssey. It has been producing these games since 2001. Beyond that, the company owns some significant Japanese developers including Acquire (Tenchu, Way of the Samurai, Wizardry), Game Arts (Grandia, Lunar, and it was a developer on Super Smash Bros Brawl – reading some of the comments made by Nintendo fans on the Nintendo Life story is especially amusing in that light), and Goichi Suda’s Grasshopper Manufacture (Lollipop Chainsaw, Shadows of the Damned and the upcoming Killer is Dead). All GungHo studios, none of them casual.
Grasshopper Manufacture was acquired recently enough that the additional revenue that Goichi Suda’s team would be bringing into GungHo for the first time would be directly responsible for a fair chunk in the increase that GungHo reported.
GungHo represents the future of game development where companies strike a happy balance between successful mobile titles to maintain a regular income, supplemented by “core” game releases to capitalise on consoles and the blockbuster business model.
Why no one – Bloomberg, GamesIndustry.biz nor Nintendo Life even bothered to point out to their readers that GungHo’s business model doesn’t rely on a single game is beyond me. None of the information I’ve outlined here is more than a half hour’s research to figure through, and it’s important information that readers should have access to when analysing the validity of the comments of a guy that aspires to outsell Nintendo.