It’s not too often that we hear of a Japanese developer closing up shop but apparently such a thing has happened recently. Noted developer Game Republic (Genji 1 & 2, Folklore, Catan) has closed up shop and is officially no more. The news comes from Kotaku who reports that the studio has closed as their website is no longer active and their offices in Japan currently have a for rent sign up. Kotaku’s report on the matter includes a few allegations that Game Republic Founder Yoshiki Okamoto borrowed money from less than reputable people to keep the studio afloat. According to people close to the situation (ex-Game Republic employees) Okamoto may not have gone as far as to borrow money from loan sharks or gangsters, but he did royally screw things up to the point where some people may not to work for him in the future.
Game Republic first arrived on the scene in 2003 with the PlayStation 2 game Genji being their first major project. Over the year’s Game Republic went on to produce quality games such as the slightly underrated if not maligned Genji: Days of the blade for the PS3 along with giving us the cult hit that is Folklore. The quality of Game Republic’s projects did dip recently as two of their last four major projects were absolutely dreadful in the gameplay and overall quality department. I’m of course referring to Clash of the Titans: The Video Game and Knights Contract, both of which were published by Namco Bandai.
A former Game Republic employee who goes by the username KuroNeeko on NeoGAF revealed that a lot of drama went on during the development of Clash of the Titans and Knights Contract which led to both games being less than stellar. What’s even more interesting is that KuroNeeko revealed that Game Republic did in fact submit a proposal to Sony to do a sequel to Folklore. Released in 2007, Folklore was an inventive and beautiful adventure game which to this day still has some of the best use of the SixAxis controller as it involved capturing ghosts. Sadly Folklore didn’t do well at retail and considering that Sony owns the IP the game has been put in hibernation, presumably alongside Syphon Filter and The Getaway. But as KuroNeeko revealed, Game Republic recently submitted a proposal for a Folklore follow-up that would be a digitally distributed title that would utilize the PlayStation Move. Reportedly the Folklore 2 proposal went down well amongst the Sony brass but was still deemed too much of a risk considering the low sales of the first Folklore.
Unlike other studios that close under bad financial circumstances, there appears to be no plans for Okamoto to move on in the video game industry and perhaps open up another studio with a different focus. So far Okamoto has yet to comment on Game Republic’s sudden closure but considering that his blog, which often featured a bevy of depressing posts, has since been closed I doubt we’ll hear from Okamoto anytime soon.
I’ve always appreciated the work of Game Republic as I enjoyed the old-school flair of the two Genji games, appreciated the art of Folklore and even found a few highlights amidst the terribad experience that was Clash of the Titans: The Video Game. It’s not too surprising that Game Republic closed since their last few games didn’t sell that well thus they likely didn’t receive any bonuses based on the overall retail performance. There’s still a lot we don’t know about what exactly went down with Game Republic, KuroNeeko hinted at some things but refused to divulge specifics, so Game Republic’s closure could be attributed to the developer killer that is company mismanagement.
I hope nothing but the best to everyone affected by Game Republic’s closure and I hope all the talented people involved in the studio rebound with new gigs.