Indie Spotlight: G.rev Feature - The Next Level

Indie Spotlight: G.rev

GotNext talks with the head of one of Japan's hottest independent arcade developers.

Article by Travis Fahs (Email)
April 17th 2006, 11:24PM

GotNext: I understand that many of you are former Taito employees. What inspired you to leave a large, successful company like Taito to form your own company?

Hiroyuki Maruyama: There were many reasons, but the biggest one was that Taito had halted its internal arcade development, except for games designed for large cabinets. We held out hope for a comeback, and pressed onward for about 2 years, but after speaking with the higher-ups, we were told it wouldn't happen. So we resigned, and decided to take on the responsibilities of making arcade games ourselves.

GN: So what exactly does "G.rev" mean?

HM: Officially it's an abbreviation of "Game Revolution", but it actually comes from somewhere else... Its true origin remains a secret.

GN: What was the biggest challenge you faced in trying to start your own company?

HM: Definitely finances. We are entirely self-financed, so we were only able to gather limited funds to start, which made creating a game quite impossible. To that effect, our hardest time was before we finished our first game. Of course, we're still struggling. [laughs]

GN: Your first arcade title, Star Seeker, was decidedly different from your subsequent titles. Why was this chosen as your first project?

HM: To continue what I was saying before, we took on subcontracted work at first in order to raise capital. With the money we got from this work, we could only put together something small, like a puzzle game. Considering that our strongest suit was our real time games, we decided to go with an action-puzzle with real-time elements. We were able to complete it in only 3 months, but even now I still think we did well, all things considered. [laughs]

GN: All of your titles began life in the arcade. What is it about the arcade format that you find so appealing?

HM: I don't think there's such a huge difference between computer and console games, but there are many real-time-dependent games (action, shooting, etc.) in the arcades. Unlike consumer games, one can easily enjoy the game for as little as 1 coin without having to buy an expensive package. So if an arcade game is good, it's easier to get recognized and praised.

Alternatively, a small company like ours that can't really spend money on advertising might not even be looked at by mainstream consumers in Japan. [laughs]

Also, you can watch people enjoy your games, which makes it very rewarding as a game creator.

GN: Where do you see the arcade market in 5 or 10 years? What do you think G.rev will be doing at this time?

HM: I don't think the arcade market will disappear, but I think it's likely we'll see a big change, with the trend of oversized/novelty game cabinets entering the mainstream. There is the chance that interchangeable arcade games with standard cabinets like the NAOMI system that has been G.rev's main platform, will cease to exist.

As long as arcade games are around, we will be supporting the arcade market. But if it dries up, then we'll have to search for a new medium.

GN: How would you feel about making a console-exclusive title without any arcade release?

HM: It's not out of the question at some point, but for the time being, we don't intend to. If Under Defeat was a console original, and it weren't billed as "the last game for the Dreamcast", it's probably safe to say that in Japan, few people would've noticed it, and it would've quietly disappeared.

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