Mikami discusses ZeniMax deal

Resident Evil creator talks buyout of Tango Gameworks by Bethesda Softworks parent, saying first project will be the last AAA title he directs.

Last week, Bethesda Softworks parent ZeniMax Media made the surprise announcement that it had acquired Tango Gameworks, a game development house helmed by Resident Evil creator and Vanquish director Shinji Mikami. Though terms of the transaction were not disclosed, Mikami's studio focuses on AAA multiplatform game development.

Shinji Mikami

In an interview with Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu (relayed by 1up), Mikami filled in more of the how and why he became evolved with ZeniMax, which is based in Maryland. According to Mikami, he had begun shopping his studio around at the 2010 Electronic Entertainment Expo.

"I had been looking for a new business partner before all this, so I contacted 10 or so companies during E3, both Japanese and elsewhere," he said. "Bethesda was the best match among them because they gave us the most independent development environment to work with as we pursue our goal of producing Japanese games that work worldwide--that, and their track record when it comes to overseas sales."

The reason for he was searching for a business partner, Mikami said, was so that his studio wouldn't have to deal with financial pressure.

"We didn't want to have to live hand to mouth as a studio," he said. "If we did that, we'd have to take on work we weren't interested in just to pay the bills. That would then force us to expand our staff, and before you know it, we'd be thinking 'This isn't how we meant it to go.' I gathered the people around me now in order to create the best worldwide market-driven development studio possible--the independence of that studio is secondary to that goal. I decided that we'd all be happier if we could take this shortcut to creating the great games we want to create."

As for ZeniMax's end of the deal, Bethesda Asia GM Tetsu Takahashi said that Mikami's availability was a windfall. "We've been publishing titles from overseas studios in Japan for a while," he said. "But one of our other goals was to publish Japanese games overseas if we found the right content match. However, it's pretty hard to find creators whose work can really be appreciated around the world."

While neither Takahashi nor Mikami were willing to discuss the studio's first project under the Bethesda label, they did indicate that it will be a big-budget endeavor.

"That's the only sort of title we're interested in," Takahashi said. "Any such project is going to involve tens of millions of dollars either way, so instead of cutting dev time and features and hoping for a million copies sold, it's better to take your time, make something great, and aim for 5 million instead. We believe that there's actually less risk when you do it that way."

Lastly, Mikami noted that this project could be the last big-budget project he'll direct. "That's something I was planning for from the start," he said. "I can only last for so long handling both director and company president duties, and besides, I want to give our younger developers a chance. Knowing that, of course, makes me want to put all of my experience, my energy, and everything else I've got into this game. I'm pretty lucky that [Bethesda] was willing to accept that, too. Too many publishers are only interested in the very near future, after all."

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32 comments
digi-demon
digi-demon

Shinji Mikami is a genius :D This item is over 1wk old and only 30'ish comments... sure are some ignorant gamers out there... for gawed sake this is the creator of RE!

evilross
evilross

This should be sweet. ZeniMax is an awesome publisher, and they do not get in the way of the talent at all. Carmack would have never got on board with Zenimax if that was the case. I'd bet that Mikami will be able to get his hands on IdTech 5 to run his next game, whatever it may be. Gonna be hot... real hot.

pontif6
pontif6

Man i hope the game he is developing is a combination between fallout style free roaming and Dead rising or L4D!!!! That would be friggin sweet. Maby even be able to recruit survivors and build a town with defences like assassins creed 2........I know too much but it would be friggin sweet!!!!!

EchoEcho
EchoEcho

@Kevin-V -- I often find myself correcting people on the difference between publisher and developer in comment threads such as this. It's a little disheartening that so many people can't make the distinction and end up confusing the two; it often leads to blame or praise being directed where it isn't due, or bizarre misconceptions about the interplay between the two. Seems to be a topic that a lot of people could be more informed about. That said, I wish Mikami and Tango the best of luck on their new project. Glad they've found themselves a good partner that understands their needs.

XIntoTheBlue
XIntoTheBlue

"I bet dollars to donuts that he will not be making an RE-style game, much less any game, with Bethesda's creaky technology" As far as I know, New Vegas will be the last to use the Gamebryo engine. They're going over to id's new engine for their upcoming games, and id has a good track record in developing good engines.

Kevin-V
Kevin-V moderator staff

@Jaga_Telesin -- I don't think you need to worry about that happening. It's right there in the news article: "Bethesda was the best match among them because they gave us the most independent development environment to work with." Mikami needs room to make the game he wishes to make, and Bethesda is allowing that creative freedom. I bet dollars to donuts that he will not be making an RE-style game, much less any game, with Bethesda's creaky technology. Be careful not to mistake the role of a developer with the role of a publisher.

brian_13un
brian_13un

Zenimax is really owning ^_^ hehehehe

lightwarrior179
lightwarrior179

Mikami's genius will finally have a solid financial backing of ZeniMax.All we need for some awesome games to come out from him. Can't wait. :D

baderlionheart
baderlionheart

he is really one of the best directors around good luck and looking forward to it

NeonNinja
NeonNinja

Match made in heaven. Bethesda rock, Mikami rocks, let's get a freaking awesome game here! :D

Jaga_Telesin
Jaga_Telesin

That's all we need.. A RE-style game done with the Fallout/Oblivion engine. /shoots self in head

MJ12-Conspiracy
MJ12-Conspiracy

At least it wasn't just Oh he's that Resident Evil guy and he's got all these other game projects going on let's buy his company... Mikami wanted it out of financial security and a stable place to conduct business from.....that's good.

Master_ShakeXXX
Master_ShakeXXX

PLEASE BE VANQUISH 2 PLEASE BE VANQUISH 2 PLEASE BE VANQUISH 2!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

xenogearz88
xenogearz88

Good luck man!!! make a game that'll make Capcom bow their heads in utter shame!!!!

HailToTheGun
HailToTheGun

Fallout: New Vanquish. I'll take 50 copies.

PNoyGamer
PNoyGamer

Work without financial pressure?! Hell just the idea is surreal. Congrats Mikami! You better come up with something great!

Barighm
Barighm

This guy is doing it the right way: no cutting corners, no pressure to do it somebody's else way...just his vision and the time and money needed to do it. Considering this is the same vision responsible for the ultra cool Vanquish, I can't wait to see his next game.

lowkey254
lowkey254

His last game will be a great game. I'm thinking Vanquish, Bayonetta, and Madworld having a minage a trois love child.

chrystofax
chrystofax

Hope everything works out in the future

elbert_b_23
elbert_b_23

we can kiss Tango Gameworks good bye they will be broken by the junk that Bethesda makes

KamuiFei
KamuiFei

Elder Scrolls V, with a bit of eastern flair? Doubtful, but hey, who knows, lol

EPaul
EPaul

I hope their next game becomes a big hit.

lahbitec
lahbitec

i hope they will make excellent games