Tetris Effect studio targeting next-gen consoles

PSVR PlayStation 5 compatibility is “great news,” says Mizuguchi

Tetsuya Mizuguchi, CEO of Tetris Effect studio Enhance, is targeting next-generation consoles for his next game release.

Speaking to VGC in a recent interview, the Rez and Lumines creator said fresh hardware has always been a source of inspiration for him.

And with PlayStation 5 recently announced and Microsoft expected to reveal the next Xbox at E3 in June, Mizuguchi said that Enhance is well positioned to take advantage of whatever new consoles have to offer.

We want to make a game on the next consoles, which will offer much higher resolution I hope,” Mizuguchi said when asked about plans for his next game.

Business-wise you always need to be careful – transitions can be tough, depending on where you are in projects and how you’ve allocated your resources – but in our case, right now Enhance is really well positioned to take full advantage of whatever next-gen offers once it comes out.

“And new hardware and new technology in general has always been a huge source of inspiration for me, from my days back in the arcade to most recently VR and AR. So yeah, I’m definitely really excited for what’s next.”

Mizuguchi’s latest release, Tetris Effect, was nominated for two BAFTA video game awards and praised for its implementation of PlayStation VR.

Mizuguchi welcomed the recent news that PS VR will be compatible with PlayStation 5 and backwards compatible with PS4 games, commenting that he’s found it frustrating in the past whenever new hardware has “walled off” his past games.

“I think it’s great news, both as a developer and as someone who plays games,” he said.

“One frustration for me personally has always been seeing games I worked on walled off behind old hardware, so if you don’t have some pieces of plastic and silicon from 10 or 20 years ago – and all in good working condition – you can’t play it any more.

“I hate that! Especially as I try to make games that are not just fun at the time they are released but also years later. I hope this becomes a new standard across all the platforms.”

“New hardware and new technology in general has always been a huge source of inspiration for me, from my days back in the arcade to most recently VR and AR.”

‘So much space to explore’

Enhance has made a name for itself as a creator of premium VR titles, with both Tetris Effect and Rez Infinite garnering praise for their virtual reality modes.

However, according to the company’s business development head Mark MacDonald, “even with what we’ve done already, there’s always talk about needing more power”.

“From Tetris Effect we know that even physics pushes the hardware,” he said. “Using real physics for things to be able to react to sound is actually surprisingly hardware intensive.

“More power would let us do more. Things like graphical changes actually affect everything, because if the graphics are reacting and changing to the sound, it’s not just a better-looking game — at some point it goes over a tipping point and becomes a new experience.

“Power to make things look better ends up affecting the whole game. It might sound shallow to say more power for better graphics, but with the kind of games that we make it would affect the whole experience.”

In terms of VR hardware, MacDonald said he still feels like current offerings are very primitive compared to what’s likely to come.

“We feel like current VR hardware, without insulting anybody, is basically like Pong was to 2D,” he said. “It’s in its infancy and we’re excited to be hopefully at the forefront of what people are doing. But there’s still so much space left to explore.”

He added: “We think we will look back on these [early] experiences like we would look back on old NES games or something — timeless games but within these really big limitations.

“We’re very conscious of those limitations. For example, Rez Area X is mostly a black background which is so that people who aren’t used to VR don’t get sick. With Tetris Effect as well, we designed with those limitations in mind. As those limitations get broader, the types of genres that we can do gets broader as well.

“From what I hear in terms of the future, I think it’s going to be bigger, better and more genres.”