SNK Playmore staying in the game

Publisher responds to rumors in wake of King of Fighters producer's departure, plans to continue publishing games for years to come.

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Source: A post on French fighting game site Bas Gros Poing reports that SNK Playmore management wants to retreat from game development and instead focus on its pachislot and licensing out its brands and characters for others to use.

What we heard: The Bas Gros Poing article paints a dim picture of SNK Playmore at the moment, but it may not be entirely accurate. According to the site, after a September change in the publisher's executive ranks, the newly appointed president and CEO wants to take the company in a new direction. As part of that direction, the company would essentially close its gaming division except for ports of existing games and would instead focus on pachislot machines, collectible figurines, and the like.

There's still some fight left in this old dog.
There's still some fight left in this old dog.

While the company has been leaning on ports of its NeoGeo catalog of late (like the NeoGeo Station offerings on the PlayStation Network), it still has new projects in the pipeline, most notably King of Fighters XIII, the follow-up to the 2009 franchise refresh. However, to the chagrin of many SNK fans, Bas Gros Poing also reported that King of Fighters series producer Masaaki Kukino has left the company, casting some uncertainty on the franchise's future.

Despite the news, the report of SNK Playmore abandoning game development leaves room for error. The Bas Gros Poing article only states that as a direction that a single person within the company wants to go, not as a company initiative already under way. Additionally, the phrasing of the report seems to indicate that the site's two sources for the news are not actually SNK Playmore employees, but rather people who have their own contacts at the company. If that is the case, such a secondhand report increases the chances of a misunderstanding or miscommunication somewhere along the line.

Fans of the fighting game factory would do well to remember it has faced bleak situations before. For example, SNK Corporation actually shut down entirely in 2001, only to be resurrected in 2003 after company heads went on to find success in the pachislot industry as Playmore. Although the reinvigorated publisher never returned to the hardware market with its iconic NeoGeo system, it did bring back some of its most famous franchises, producing new entries in the King of Fighters and Metal Slug series.

The official story: "In response to Internet rumors from earlier this week, SNK is planning to release a full slate of games in 2011 and expects to continue publishing games worldwide for many years to come."--An SNK Playmore representative.

Bogus or not bogus?: Changes may be afoot at SNK Playmore, but they hopefully aren't as drastic as the rumors make them out to be. Bogus.

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