Online brawler Babylon’s Fall was widely panned by critics when it launched in March and struggled to attract an audience ever since. Last month Square Enix confirmed the game will officially end service in February 2023, less than a year after its original release.
Speaking to VGC in a new interview, PlatinumGames CEO Atsushi Inaba commented publicly for the first time since the closure news, stating that the developer was “extremely sorry” for any disappointment it might have caused its fans.
Inaba claimed that restrictions around the publishing arrangement prevented him from commenting in detail on Babylon’s Fall. However, he claimed that Platinum had learned from the experience and insisted it hand’t altered the Bayonetta studio’s plans to make more live service games in the future.
“Firstly, the important thing that I want to note is that we’re not able to comment on certain areas of games developed with our partners,” he said.
“And that’s one of the reasons we’re not fond of our current situation that only limits us to game development, to be honest with you… in terms of any concrete reasons or the process that led to this conclusion of the title, you’d have to go ahead and ask Square Enix about the details, unfortunately.”
He continued: “The only thing we can comment on here in terms of the closure of the Babylon’s Fall service itself, is that this unfortunate conclusion might have been something that had triggered some disappointment, perhaps maybe even anger, to our dedicated fans and players.
“And any disappointment that we might have caused for our fan base is something we feel extremely sorry about, the fact that we led our dedicated fans to feel that way as a developer. Providing any sentiment other than enjoyment and fun in our creations to players is something that we’re not very happy about at all as a developer.”
Platinum has made little secret of its ambitions to add live service games to its portfolio in the future.
Inaba told VGC that its experience with Babylon’s Fall hasn’t changed its plans “at all” in this regard, and discussed some of the learnings it will take into the future, such as focusing more on the core game mechanics of these projects.
He also appeared to imply that splitting the workload on such titles with an external company, as Platinum did with Square Enix, was not something he was necessarily keen to try again.
“There’s a lot that we learned from this experience, and it’s not changed our future plans or outlook moving forward regarding doing live service games at all. Live service games are definitely something we do want to do and put our effort in moving forward,” he said.
“There are two pillars, so to speak, that we can look at internally for our development teams, that being the people within the same company. The first is just the sheer fun of the core game mechanics that you have in the live service game and secondly, performing the live service itself.
“I think these two pillars are values that need to be strongly connected internally, and need to be viewed, treasured, and valued by the same people, on the same team, at the very same company.
“Otherwise, if one of these is valued over the other or if they’re not connected, things usually don’t turn out the way we would have wanted them to. We want to focus on keeping that connection and that balance between those two pillars moving forward.”
Over the past several years Platinum has been pushing to regain its independence, after a decade of work-for-hire projects under which it didn’t own its own IPs. As part of that, it’s made recent strives into self-publishing with Sol Cresta, and hired a former Nintendo publishing boss to helm its efforts.
However, Inaba suggested that the issues it experienced with Babylon’s Fall would not have simply disappeared should it have had full control over the project, and implied that the developer needed to be mindful of broader lessons.
“Keeping this answer limited to Babylon’s Fall would skewer the discussion I think, but similar to what I said, if you’re a developer and also the publisher, your role obviously does change. But it doesn’t mean that even if you have ultimate control of the title that you’re not going to have any frustrations in the long run, regardless of whether you are a developer or a publisher.
“If we hypothetically were to do everything on our own to develop the game, with full control, then if we failed it’s pretty much 100% on us and if we succeed it was basically on us. And we are not viewing ourselves as ‘special’ in any kind of way if we were to go ahead and do everything ourselves.
“But I think this whole ‘frustration’ story is something that we should not deny in this interview, but rather admit the fact and make this end result clear, move on, and connect this experience to our efforts moving forward. This is the only way to not feel frustrated in the long run.”