Speaking to VGC following his recent promotion to president and CEO, Atsushi Inaba was asked about recent consolidation in the games industry, most significantly marked by Microsoft’s $70bn buyout of Activision Blizzard, and if Platinum would be open to offers.
“The most important thing for us is to have the freedom to make the games that we want to make,” he said. “What I hear about the recent acquisitions, I don’t think Microsoft is going to start micromanaging Activision to where they take away all their freedom… I don’t think it’s going to be a relationship like that.
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“I think there’s going to be a lot of mutual respect there and I think Activision will be able to continue doing what they do best. That’s also what’s most important to us at the end of the day, whatever form that takes for us and our company. So I would not turn anything down, as long as our freedom was still respected.”
Inaba previously suggested that Platinum would not be interested in a sale to Microsoft – which has publicly stated its desire to add Japanese studio to its first-party roster – should such a theoretical arrangement limit its independence.
Platinum is one of Japan’s most prominent independent game developers, known for its enviable track record of creating original games such as Bayonetta, The Wonderful 101, Vanquish and Astral Chain, as well as high-profile collaborations on titles such as Metal Gear Rising, NieR Automata and Star Fox Zero.
In 2020, Platinum received investment from Chinese conglomerate Tencent (as did Activision Blizzard before the Microsoft deal).
M&A activity in the games industry hit a record $85 billion in 2021 and has been forecast to reach $150 billion this year, but the recent growth in M&A activity has seemingly yet to reach Japan.
The country’s developers have consolidated in the past – including Koei Tecmo, Bandai Namco, Sega Sammy and Square Enix – but we’re yet to see anything at the level of PlayStation’s $3.6bn purchase of Bungie, let alone Microsoft’s $70bn Activision deal.
Asked why Japan’s biggest companies don’t seem to consolidate as frequently as Western companies, Inaba said he was surprised there weren’t more mergers and acquisitions.
“I agree, you don’t see that a lot in Japan and personally, I think it’s weird,” he said. “For some of these big companies with all their money you sometimes think, ‘come on! Buy some companies up already!’ It does feel strange to see Japanese companies being passive all of the time.”
Japan-based analyst Dr. Serkan Toto recently said he believed Western corporations such as Microsoft will find it very difficult to acquire major Japanese studios due to cultural issues.
“Nothing can be ruled out in this day and age,” said Toto. “But in some ways, Microsoft taking over a big Japanese publisher would be bigger news than the Activision deal. So far no foreign game company has been able to acquire a [big] Japanese studio — and I can guarantee you there have been attempts, from both western and Asian players.”
VGC’s full PlatinumGames interview will be published this week.