One-Year Anniversary of GPTRACK50: Interview with studio President Kobayashi
Joined Capcom on 1995.
Since then, been involved in multiple franchise such as “Resident Evil”, “Devil May Cry”, “Sengoku BASARA”, “Dragon’s Dogma”, etc.
In October 2022, established new game studio named “GPTRACK50” and appointed as studio president. Is now working on a completely new IP to bring another surprise to gamers in global.
As GPTRACK50 marks its one-year anniversary, our President Kobayashi has been interviewed by Katsuhiko Hayashi, the head of Famitsu Group.
Desire to challenge is the reason for establishing new studio.
—GPTRACK50’s establishment was big news in the gaming industry. What was your goal when you decided to start this new journey?
Kobayashi: I turned 50 last year, which is a milestone age. Assuming my retirement will be at 60, I only have 10 years left. When I thought about what’s next in my life as a creator, I felt I wanted to take on “new challenges.”
—So, you started GPTRACK50 to make those new challenges happen.
Kobayashi: It’s not like there weren’t any opportunities at Capcom. Indeed, I was involved in various projects. But I thought I wanted to create new content with more freedom, and that’s when the thought of going independent went into my head. Through a friend, I had a chance to meet people from NetEase Games, and we clicked right away to start a new studio together.
—So you had already decided to go independent before the offer came in, not the other way around.
Kobayashi: Correct. It felt like the perfect opportunity when the offer came, and within about six months, everything fell into place to start the company.
—Why did you decide to accept NetEase Games’ offer?
Kobayashi: I was contemplating not merely focusing on the domestic market but rather extending my efforts in creating new forms of entertainment to a global audience. One of the reasons for collaborating with NetEase Games therefore was their extensive global reach. Another is that industry veterans like Suda51 (※1) and Nagoshi (※2) were also partnering with NetEase Games. Knowing that people I look up to in the industry have had similar experiences with NetEase Games made me feel more comfortable and confident about working with them.
—What was your impression of NetEase Games after you met them?
Kobayashi: My impression was that they genuinely value creative minds, respect opinions, and share a passion for creating new things. They often give positive responses like “that’s a compelling idea”, which creates a very collaborative atmosphere that makes it easier for us to work together.
※1 …… Goichi Suda. President of Grasshopper Manufacture Inc.
※2 …… Toshihiro Nagoshi. President of Nagoshi Studio.
“Game” and “Play” are the keywords of new studio.
―What’s the story behind the company name GPTRACK50?
Kobayashi: I really struggled to find the right name. The “G” in GPTRACK stands for “Game,” but it is also the first letter for words with a positive meaning like “Global” and “Gift.” The “P” stands for “Play.” Trademark issues ruled out straightforward names like “Play___” or “Game___.” So, I ended up with just G and P, and then added “TRACK,” which means recording or trajectory. The name embodies my desire to “record gaming experiences” and “leave a legacy.” The 50 signifies a 50:50 relationship between the players and the creators, and it also reflects my desire to keep the company running for another 50 years.
—Various sentiments are infused into the company name, I see. What kind of games or other entertainments are you planning to create at GPTRACK50?
Kobayashi: The first and foremost aim is to make a great game. While I’ve worked on movies, anime, and stage plays, the works I’m most proud of are in gaming.
—So, you’re focused on games, how exciting! If allowed, can you talk about the kind of games you’re working on?
Kobayashi: People often ask me if I’m going to do horror or historical games based on my past work. But no, it’s not going to be in those genres. All I can say for now is that it’s a 3D action RPG.
—Oh! So, you decided to go with action games, a genre you’re well-versed in, as your first title?
Kobayashi: Yes, both I and many members of GPTRACK50 wanted to work on action games. Therefore our first title will be an action game.
—Will there be any multiplayer gameplay?
Kobayashi: We can’t give an absolute answer yet, but we are thinking about a game that players can enjoy by themselves, which means the game won’t be online-focused. We might include some online elements, but they won’t be the focus.
—So, we can expect a completely new IP then?
Kobayashi: Absolutely. One of the main reasons for founding GPTRACK50 is to create an entirely new IP from scratch. That includes designing brand new characters and setups, as well as delivering an action system that feels fresh. Our studio isn’t huge, so we’re going to focus on creating the best 3D action game we can, one that can uniquely made by us. This is also why the game will be single-player focused.
—What about the difficulty level of your new game? You’ve worked on action games like “Sengoku BASARA” and “Dragon’s Dogma”, which offer a variety of difficulty levels.
Kobayashi: It won’t be an ultra-hard “Soulslike” game. It won’t be a casual action game like “Sengoku BASARA” either. There will be RPG elements such as character growth, which means if you can’t defeat an enemy, you can always get stronger and try again later. We’re also planning to add concepts that are similar to classes, elements, and weapons to the game. If you effectively exploit the enemies’ weaknesses, you can take them down more easily. But it’s not just about having pure mechanical skills to beat the enemies- we also want to offer a kind of fun where you have to think strategically about your approach to the game to overcome challenges.
—This sounds like a culmination of your past work in action games.
Kobayashi: While brute-forcing won’t be an easy option to beat our game, we hope the game’s growth aspects can allow even those who aren’t good at action games to enjoy it.
—How about the art style? Especially for characters and the world setting?
Kobayashi: The overall world concept is already decided, but we’re still contemplating how to visually represent it. As for the plot, we have a writer on board and we’re currently in the middle of intense discussions to flesh it out.
—It sounds like the development is still in the early stages. When can we expect an official announcement?
Kobayashi: We’re planning to have a test version by next spring. The official announcement will follow. We hope to make it by our second anniversary. We’ll do our best to have you back for more interviews next year! (laughs)
—Are you hinting a release by the end of 2024?
Kobayashi: No, it won’t be that soon. It will take 2-3 years to deliver a complete, polished game, and we’re also considering a physical release for consoles.
—Sounds like a new and big challenge for you.
Kobayashi: Development is still in its infancy, and our team is still growing. We appreciate your patience, and we cannot wait to share more with you in the future. So stay tuned！
—We are looking forward to this new game from you and GPTRACK50. Could you share your plans for the future?
Kobayashi: As I mentioned at the beginning, I’m interested in working on various titles, with a focus on games. We have not just one project under development- there’s another one that we’re eager to take on. However, we’re putting our all into the first project for now. In our office, I work closely with the development team which enables easy communication. It feels like we’ve gone back to the old days, and it’s a comforting and enjoyable experience. Starting from scratch is challenging, but it’s also extremely stimulating and rewarding. We’re striving every day to deliver an incredibly entertaining game. Please look forward to future updates from us!
Hints for Kobayashi’s new game
This completely new title Kobayashi is working on is still shrouded in mystery. However, several keywords were mentioned during this interview. Below would be the angles we can assume from items mentioned in the interview and his past works.
(1) 3D Action RPG as genre
Also with skill growth and job elements.
(2) Not too easy but not too hard
Is not a game for easy exhilaration.
(3) Not a horror or war themed.
The taste will be different from his past titles.
(4) Not an online game
More immersive with single play. Casual level online might exist?