Over the last couple of years — and particularly the last several months — there’s been a lot of discussion surrounding PlayStation’s relationship with Japan. It’s no secret that the company has become very westernised, consolidating its efforts across North America and Europe especially. This is also true of PlayStation’s first-party developers; the likes of Naughty Dog, Sony Santa Monica, Guerrilla Games, and Sucker Punch now spearhead the company’s approach to blockbuster software — and all of them are based outside of Japan.
However, head of PlayStation Studios Hermen Hulst stresses that PlayStation hasn’t abandoned the country that it came from. Speaking to the official PlayStation Blog, Hulst says: “I want to be very clear that Japanese games and Japanese talent remain extremely important to PlayStation Studios and to Sony Interactive Entertainment. Japan and Asia are strongly associated with our legacy: the success of Sony, the PlayStation brand, and many of our iconic PlayStation franchises were actually born in that region.”
Of course, it’s also worth bringing up the fact that PlayStation currently has very close ties to some of Japan’s most prominent publishers. It has a number of exclusive deals in place with Square Enix, and it clearly has a strong marketing partnership with Capcom. PlayStation itself may have stepped away from Japan in order to bolster its operations elsewhere, but it obviously still recognises the importance of the Japanese industry.
Hulst continues: “I know the potential from high-quality games from Japan and Asia, and some of the best development talent in the world is found there. They have that history of innovation, of craftsmanship and skill, that pride and team spirit. We very much want to continue those traditions.”
He then goes on to sing the praises of Japanese studios Polyphony Digital (Gran Turismo) and the much more recently assembled Team Asobi (Astro’s Playroom). On the latter, Hulst reiterates that the developer is still in the process of being expanded: “We’re building Team Asobi in Tokyo, a world-class studio that are developing a franchise for all ages with global appeal. Such a creative team.”
What are your thoughts on PlayStation’s current relationship with Japan and the Japanese gaming industry? Consider playing through Astro’s Playroom again in the comments section below.