Exclusive: The former Capcom producer behind Resident Evil and Killer 7 talks about his new studio
After Yakuza series creator Toshihiro Nagoshi and No More Heroes creator Goichi Suda, popularly known as “Suda51”, Capcom veteran Hiroyuki Kobayashi announced his move to NetEase Games in August this year. Today, NetEase unveiled Kobayashi’s new studio as GPTRACK50, located in Osaka. At Capcom, Kobayashi worked as a producer on the Resident Evil series as well as Devil May Cry.
“I was at Capcom for 27 years. During my time the company got a lot bigger and a lot of new employees came in,” Kobayashi told IGN in an exclusive interview.
“I worked on a wide range of titles at Capcom, but I wanted a new challenge,” he explained. “Of course, it’s not like Capcom hasn’t allowed me to try new things, but now that the company is much bigger, things are different than they were when I started. joined the company as a rookie in 1995. Now everything has to be approved and things just take longer to light up. I’m the kind of creator who wants to be able to deliver a new experience while it’s still fresh, and I had thought of creating my own studio to make this possible.
Kobayashi had heard that major Chinese publisher and developer NetEase Games gave its studios a lot of creative freedom. After joining the company, he feels relieved to have the freedom to pursue his ideas without having to take too long to explain himself.
Although he said it was too early to go into specifics, Kobayashi assured us that GPTRACK50’s first game will be something along the lines of the action games he’s worked on in the past.
“After making action games at Capcom for so many years, it would be kind of weird if I made an adventure game or a dating sim now, wouldn’t it?” he joked. “That being said, I also don’t want to do exactly the same thing I did at Capcom. Mixing my expertise with things my new position at NetEase allows me to do should make for an interesting action game. While NetEase is known for mobile games and online games, I must say that I want to continue developing for the console and PC market.
A more global audience
Kobayashi has confirmed that the game will be a new IP. He also said that although in Japan he is best known as series creator Sengoku Basara, he wants GPTRACK50’s first game to have more global appeal, so don’t expect anything to pan out. during the Sengoku period (Warring States).
When we mentioned the worldwide success of Ghost of Tsushima and the popularity of games set in feudal Japan ever since, Kobayashi acknowledged that there might be a possibility in the future.
“As a game about Japan made by non-Japanese developers, Ghost of Tsushima kind of reminded me of how we (at Capcom) as Japanese developers made a horror game set in the United States with Resident Evil at the time,” he mused. “At the time, it might have come as a surprise to people that it was made by Japanese developers.
“I think it shows that it doesn’t matter what country or culture you’re making your game on, as long as you seriously study the subject and put your heart into it, there’s always a chance. In that regard, there’s no It’s not like I’ve had enough of games like Sengoku Basara, and the Sengoku period is definitely a good setting, but for our first game, we’re going for something that will more easily appeal to a global audience,” Kobayashi explained.
While taking a more holistic approach, however, Kobayashi intends to target a specific audience, rather than just everyone who plays video games.
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“I don’t see the need to reach out to the kind of person who only plays one game a year,” he said. “Of course, there are a lot of games that are aimed at more casual gamers, but for our first project, I want to create a new experience for a larger audience that is serious about gaming. Rather than creating something something that everyone can enjoy, I want to have a clear type of player that they will like. Of course, it’s not like I’m trying to eliminate potential players, and anyone who wants to try will make me happy, but the most serious type of gamer is definitely our primary target audience.
Besides working on games, Kobayashi has also contributed as a producer to Capcom IP-based movies, anime, and even stage performances. While GPTRACK50’s first step will be to deliver an exciting new action game, Kobayashi hopes to adapt the studio’s new IP to other forms of entertainment in the future, as it has done at Capcom in the past.
Working with Nagoshi and Suda
Regarding the possibility of working with Nagoshi Studio or Goichi Suda’s Grasshopper Manufacture now that they are all under the NetEase umbrella, Kobayashi said that for years to come, his studio will be too focused on developing its first game, but he does not overlook the possibility in the future.
“Something like that could potentially be discussed in the future. At the very least, I think we can learn a lot from each other,” he said. “Quantic Dream also recently became part of NetEase. Their games are almost like movies, and very different from how I came to make games. I’m interested in connecting with other NetEase studios around the world. hope we can learn from each other.
Kobayashi’s openness to learning from different developers might have something to do with the past. In 2005, he collaborated with Suda on Killer7, a title published by Capcom.
“I think this may be the first time I’ve said this, but if I hadn’t worked on Killer7 with Suda, I might not have incorporated unusual elements into games back then. in Sengoku Basara, like anime and CG cutscenes. Seeing how Suda makes his games, I learned to be more free and creative. It kind of opened me up as a creator,” Kobayashi recalls “Suda is really a charismatic creator, that’s why I constantly shouted ‘Suda51! Suda51!’ as a magic spell when promoting the game in the West.”
He added with a laugh, “You could almost say that we were promoting Suda itself more than the game itself.”
Killer7 was released two years before Suda achieved the success of No More Heroes. It could be said that Kobayashi’s enthusiastic promotion played a small role in Suda’s popularity in the West.
From Resident Evil to Dragon’s Dogma
Kobayashi himself has played key roles in some of Capcom’s most beloved franchises, including Resident Evil, Devil May Cry, and Dragon’s Dogma.
“When I joined Capcom in 1995, the PlayStation and the Sega Saturn had come out a year earlier,” Kobayashi said. “The first title I worked on in freshman year was the first Resident Evil. It was a time of change. 32-bit consoles were new to the market and Sony had just entered the industry. It was a time when a lot of experimentation was possible. A lot of weird games were made, some of which I worked on myself. It was a fun time to start my journey as a developer.
Kobayashi was originally fond of the Super Mario Bros. series, which he had been playing since he was in elementary school. However, he never wanted to work on Mario games himself.
“I was more interested in making 3D games,” he said. “Of course, Mario became 3D later, but at the time I was studying 3DCG in college and was fascinated by games like Virtua Fighter, Tekken, Ridge Racer, and Daytona USA.”
Upon joining Capcom, Kobayashi made it clear that he wanted to work on 3D games right away, which is why he was assigned to the “Horror Team”.
“That’s what the Resident Evil team was called before we had a title. I was very lucky to be assigned there,” he said.
While Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami had previously worked on titles like Aladdin and Disney’s Goof Troop, Kobayashi hadn’t heard of the now-legendary developer before joining the company.
“At the time, Capcom’s most famous designers were Yoshiki Okamoto and Noritaka Funamizu,” Kobayashi recalls. “During my college years, I wasn’t really aware of game developers, but those were two names I had heard of before. Other developers I knew and respected were Sega’s Yu Suzuki and Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto.
“Capcom had a very different image back then. Today, Resident Evil might have been a flagship franchise, but it was still the company of Street Fighter and Mega Man. Compared to those, Resident Evil looked like a Western game and felt like a rare type of action-adventure game.Since then, I’ve worked on many titles for the series on different platforms, ranging from the Dreamcast to PlayStation, GameCube, and Xbox 360. I’ve also been involved in games like Devil May Cry and Dragon’s Dogma From the challenge of developing games for new hardware to the challenge of creating new IP, my 27 years at Capcom are full of memories.
Today marks a new chapter in Kobayashi’s career as a video game developer. While it will likely take a few years for GPTRACK50’s first game to reach gamers’ hands, Kobayashi hopes to be able to announce the project soon.
Thumbnail photo credit: NetEase
Esra Krabbe is an editor at IGN Japan. Follow him on Twitter here.