As one of the premier 2D fighting games on the market today, Guilty Gear Strive represents the latest addition to a series that initially got its start in 1998. And whilst the series wasn’t given a lot of attention in its early years (mainly due to the overwhelming dominance of Capcom and SNK fighters in the market), this situation has markedly changed in recent years.
Considered to be a “complete reconstruction of the franchise“, Guilty Gear Strive enjoyed a good reception from fighting fans upon its release, with some even going so far as to argue that it’s “THE fighting game of the decade (currently)“. At the same time, the game is also arguably “the most popular at least in terms of tournament sign ups“.
I spoke to Ken Miyauchi (Producer, Arc System Works) about the Guilty Gear series, and was able to ask him as to how he deals with the pressure of having to ensure that the franchise is able to maintain its quality and flagship status. Enjoy!
Arc Systems Works is known for it’s 2D fighting games and Guilty Gear happens to be one of its biggest 2D fighting game franchises. Ken Miyauchi, as the Producer, what sort of challenges do you have in keeping the Guilty Gear series high in terms of quality, but also ensure that since it’s a flagship series for Arc System Works, that you’re able to maintain its flagship status, and also ensure that it’s able to captivate new fans whilst keeping the interest of existing 2D fighting fans?
Ken Miyauchi: So the Guilty Gear series has been going for around 25 years and I believe that it got this big because of the fans and the community. We kind of grew together with the fans and the communities. When we started Guilty Gear, it had very small niche community. And then it became big in Japan, and eventually we really hit it big in the global market with Guilty Gear Strive. So it took us over 20 years to develop this large scale community. And what I believe is that we really want to focus on maintaining this community enthusiasm. The game itself has its own uniqueness, like character designs, the graphics, and also the lore of the Guilty Gear story.
Capcom released Street Fighter 6 and promoted the game very highly, which means that Capcom has a lot of faith in its 2D fighting game, especially in an industry that’s predominantly fixated with 3D visuals. Given that Guilty Gear is one of the Arc System Works’ biggest flagship titles, what sort of pressure does that put on the company where it invests so much into the IP, and at the same time, given that you’re the Producer, what sort of pressure does that put on you, especially where Guilty Gear is one of Arc System Works’ biggest franchises, but unlike Capcom, the company doesn’t have a lot of other big name franchises to fall back on?
Ken Miyauchi: So there is definitely a lot of pressure to it. The fighting game genre is very important to the company, and of course, most of our incomes is based off the fighting game genre. Our CEO has been telling us that maybe we should try different genres, because we don’t just want to be making fighting games. We want to try other video game genres as well, and that could be my future mission, but I can’t say anything about it. It’s not quite my personal mission, but as a corporate mission, to expand our development of games outside the scope of fighting games. That doesn’t mean that we want to quit developing fighting games. We have a lot of employees who joined Arc System Works because they like fighting games, and we still want to continue developing fighting games. So under that kind of pressure, yes, we want to continue making the best fighting games of our own. But at the same time, we want to expand our expertise into action games that look like anime, but are made in 3D. So that’s our next challenge.
Where do you see the Guilty Gear series going from here?
Ken Miyauchi: So Guilty Gear Strive has just had Season 3 released, and we obviously aren’t thinking that this is the end of the game life cycle. We want to continue updating the game. Our team constantly raises a lot of new ideas that they want to implement in the Guilty Gear series. So as long as the team exists, we will continue updating the game. Of course, Guilty Gear Strive is not the end of the Guilty Gear series, and we still want to continue growing the game with the community for the next 5-10 years.
Last question… I know that Guilty Gear Strive is currently being updated via its season DLC, but at what point does a company like Arc System Works turn around and state, “we are done with this version of Guilty Gear, and we are going to start working on a sequel”. How does that work, and how do you decide as to when to move on to the next version of Guilty Gear?
Ken Miyauchi: There’s definitely not a rule that decides the end point, but player support is obviously a very important factor for us. So as long as we can get support from the community, we’d like to continue making the series.
Thank you so much.