Hello again! PG president and CEO Kenichi Sato here again. I hope July finds all of you well.
It’s been about a month since the Japanese government lifted the state of emergency over COVID-19, and we’re all in the process of gradually raising our level of operations back to normal. The message all across Japan is to work towards two goals: Avoiding the further spread of disease, while getting back on solid economic ground. In other words, advance, but cautiously.
PlatinumGames is no exception. We’re taking careful steps back to the office after working from home for so long. July marks the start of our return, but it will be a slow process; we’re aiming to have almost everyone back in our offices by the end of September. (Considering all the machines and materials we need for game development, moving back and forth like this is harder than you might think!)
As I’ve said before, no state of emergency doesn’t mean no coronavirus. As we reopen our offices, we know that it’s as important as ever to take measures to avoid transmission. Those measures include delaying the official opening of PlatinumGames TOKYO – our Tokyo-based development hub that I’ve written about before – until August. Furthermore, as I write this, confirmed coronavirus cases appear to be on the rise again in Tokyo, so we know we must be extremely careful with how we proceed.
Game development calls for connectivity and communication. Thanks to video chat and other modern tools, we’re able to keep some of that connectivity even when working from home, but it’s hard to beat working side-by-side with your colleagues. It’s worth going through the extra trouble of anti-coronavirus measures if we can get back to that sooner.
Coronavirus has caused big changes in how people the world over go about their lives, and it’s had a profound impact on industries like restaurants and tourism. The games industry hasn’t made it out unscathed, either. The direct effects aren’t immediately apparent, but there’s an undeniable impact on long-term game development in the shadow of coronavirus. I hope we’ll be able to make up for some of that lost time as we make our cautious advance.
As people all over the world stay at home to prevent spreading the virus, they’ve become more intimately engaged with games, streaming video, and other “at-home” content. The games marketplace, for both console and smartphone titles, has borne this out. Together with the World Health Organization, the games industry has launched the #PlayApartTogether campaign to encourage people to stay home. Leisure is a vital part of human life, and it’s extremely hard to stay inside with nothing to do. Online games let us connect and play with friends from the safety of our own homes, which gives them a different appeal than that of more passive content, like movies. They’re more valuable than ever when you have to stay home.
But we can’t just focus on this short-term positive, and it goes without saying that we can’t stay home forever – It may prevent the spread of disease, but it would eventually have devastating effects on production, the economy, and society itself. Game development depends on an energized society, so it’s important that we advance, but cautiously. At PlatinumGames, we’re working towards raising our productivity again, while hoping for a safe recovery for the whole world.
I’m looking forward to the day when we can all play together – together – again.
P.S. I hope you’ve been enjoying The Wonderful 101: Remastered as much as I have! I’ve been playing it myself since the physical version came to Japan on June 11.
*The photo was taken in 2018.
|Kenichi Sato President and CEO
Kenichi Sato was born in Tokyo in 1962.
Though he began working for Isetan Department Stores in 1986, he changed careers to work in the video games industry in 1996 when he joined Sega Enterprises (now Sega Games) as a member of the Dreamcast marketing team. In 2000 he was brought on board as a founding member and general manager at Cavia (now Marvelous). In 2006, Sato founded ODD Ltd., the company that would later become PlatinumGames. A key member of PlatinumGames from the very beginning, Sato stepped into the role of president and CEO in April 2016.