YouTube channel Archipel has published a lengthy discussion between Koji Igarashi, famed Castlevania and Bloodstained designer, and Yohei Kataoka, the creator of Tokyo Jungle. The talk yields many insights from both creators, but Igarashi in particular provides some profound and surprising food for thought. He talks about what it means to be truly “indie,” reveals the awkward problem that arose when he left Konami, and admits that the dream game he wants to make probably wouldn’t sell well.
Koji Igarashi on the meaning of indie
Igarashi feels like he isn’t truly indie because, with Bloodstained, he wasn’t making a game solely from his own money like a typical artist. To him, a game is indie when, “There is what you want to express, where you don’t know whether there will be customers or not. However, you want to express it, so you put it out, not knowing if there will be any customers.” But then he adds that defining indie is “complicated” and open to further interpretation.
Igarashi and Kataoka debate whether it is better to have a good game that sells poorly or a bad game that sells well. They don’t land on a clear answer, in that a bad game that sells well helps a company continue to make games. Although, Kataoka notes that, these days, bad games typically don’t sell well in the first place, so maybe it’s not as big a deal now.
The problem when he left Konami
When Keiji Inafune made a terrific success of raising money for Mighty No. 9 on Kickstarter, Igarashi realized the value of crowdfunding, both as a means of raising money and proving that an audience exists for a product. However, there was another peculiar factor that led to Igarashi ultimately leaving Konami, as well as a problem that immediately arose from it. He explains it:
I understood that this market [for 2D side-scrolling action-adventure games] was still existing; this is a where a foreigner came whispering to me that now was the right time to quit. He told me that there was a big company that could provide funding and that I should quit. Someone was telling me those things; in the end I took a leap and quit. However, the company that [was] to provide the funding had changed approach and couldn’t invest anymore. Around that time, there were other companies that could provide funding, but the condition was to show that the market was existing. Inafune had made it and I thought we could have a shot as well. This is where we thought of showing there is a market via a Kickstarter campaign.
Igarashi made lemons out of lemonade by pivoting into Kickstarter when his first deal fell through.
Igarashi on the game he really wants to make
It turns out that just because Igarashi is great at making Igavanias doesn’t mean it’s the only thing he wants to make. In fact, there is a game he really wants to make — but might not. He says, “I think that the game I want to make honestly cannot sell. I did a presentation for it once, and it came to the conclusion that it wouldn’t sell. … I can’t talk about it here, but it includes all my hobbies.” When pressed for further details by Kataoka, Igarashi just said, “It’s a secret.”
However, the conversation concludes with Koji Igarashi saying, “I never make something that I don’t want to make.” So whatever Igarashi makes next, you can bet he’ll put his whole heart into it.
Watch the Archipel video for many more insights, and if you don’t have 26 minutes to spare, just watch the video at 2x speed!