LOS ANGELES — Nier’s new partnership with Platinum made it happen.
Square Enix announced a Nier sequel yesterday at its Electronic Entertainment Expo press briefing, surprising fans that has been left waiting for some kind of response from the company after the role-playing game series debut more than five years ago. Given that the original title didn’t sell well, it makes sense that a return to the franchise would be under some scrutiny. The company tapped Bayonetta developer Platinum Games to head up development for the relaunch. But executive producer Yosuke Saito and game director Taro Yoko revealed to GamesBeat yesterday (through a translator) that he put the project on a trial basis, and that it would have been canceled if it didn’t meet expectations.
After being asked about how Square Enix is balancing a new partner, a passionate fan base, and a new approach for the game, Saito admitted that he was a bit worried about Nier’s return.
“From my perspective as a producer, Mr. Yoko is a very unique individual with a unique world view in his games and his designs,” Saito told GamesBeat. “I was a little worried about whether we could bring that about properly through this collaboration. We spent six months on pre-production with Platinum, talking with them and preparing. We were lucky, because some of their younger staff are fans of Nier. That helped out a lot. They understood the vision we had. Once we were able to talk about that and come to an understanding with each other, it felt like the right fit.”
Yoko would have pulled the plug on the game if it didn’t work out after six months of preproduction, he said.
“That pre-production, those six months, I told Mr. Saito, let’s give it six months and if it doesn’t jell, scrap it,” said Yoko. “But I got along great with the people at Platinum Games, so I decided to take the next step into production.”
Yoko admits that he’s not confident in creating games that draw in new players, but he hopes that the new partnership with Platinum will address that issue.
“As far as your question about new and core gamers, with core gamers it’s very difficult,” Yoko told GamesBeat. “It’s such a unique vision, a unique world view. It’s a pretty niche sort of core, in a sense. As far as garnering new players, I’m not great at making games that draw new players. If I were, the last game would have done amazingly well. As far as that kind of stuff, I don’t spend much time thinking about it. I just try to make my vision come true.”
I joked that series fans would have rioted after finding out a Nier sequel was canceled after half a year of development.
“I probably would have been fired if word got out, too,” said Saito.