Interview with Hasegawa Hitoshi from Japan

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Hasegawa Hitoshi

Hasegawa Hitoshi, serving as the representative of 91Act Japan and an executive producer for BlazBlue Entropy Effect, found his entry into the gaming industry rooted in his student days. Captivated by CAPCOM's "Final Fight" and "Street Fighter," his passion for creating captivating games became the driving force behind his career trajectory.

Interview With The 2023 NYX Game Awards Winner –
Hasegawa Hitoshi

1Please provide us with a brief bio of yourself and your background.

I am Hasegawa Hitoshi, the representative of 91Act Japan and an executive producer for BlazBlue Entropy Effect. During the NEOGEO era in 1995, I was responsible for designing the fighting games "NINJA MUSTER'S" and "Beast Busters Second Nightmare." While working at TECMO (now KOEI TECMO), I managed character design, art direction, and project management for the "Yomawari" and "Fatal Frame" series. Later, I became the second director of Team NINJA, where I oversaw the development of "NINJA GAIDEN 2-DLC" and "NINJA GAIDEN 2Σ" action game series.

After contributing to the development of various action games, I served as a producer and executive director/development department head at Kadokawa Games. Some of my notable works include the "Yomawari" and "Fatal Frame" series, "Dead or Alive -Online-," and "√Letter ルートレター". My background in the arts allows me to specialize in creating games that blend visuals and action elements. Currently, I am the legal representative of 91Act Japan.

2What led you to become a Game Developer / Marketer?
During my time as a student, I became obsessed with CAPCOM's "Final Fight" and "Street Fighter." This desire to create captivating games led me into the gaming industry.
3What is your role in the company, and what traits should a game developer / marketing professional possess to be successful in their role?

As the representative of 91Act Japan and an executive producer for BlazBlue Entropy Effect, I believe that while success is significant, the journey towards it holds greater importance. It's not about succeeding or failing, but about continuously producing results.

The most crucial aspect of achieving results is taking 'action,' which includes having the courage to embrace challenges. It's important to take action without fear, face the outcomes, and take action once more. This is of utmost importance.

4Tell us more about your studio / company.

We are a game development and operation company that was first established over 10 years. Our development headquarters are located in Chengdu, China with additional offices in Shanghai and Tokyo, Japan.

Previously, 91Act collaborated with ARC SYSTEM WORKS to bring forth “BlazBlue RR”. We also partnered with Sega for “Dengeki Bunko: Crossing Void”. Currently, “BlazBlue Entropy Effect” marks our second collaboration with ARC SYSTEM WORKS.

5What is your own definition of a great game?
Defining what makes a game outstanding can be complex, considering the multiple factors involved. However, in my opinion, the most essential criterion is when a player is immediately drawn to try the game upon seeing its visuals. This attraction goes beyond the enjoyment experienced during gameplay; it encompasses the initial feeling of "This game looks intriguing; I want to give it a try." This is the primary definition required for a game to be considered outstanding.
6Describe the genres of the game(s) your studio / company specializes in, as well as its main characteristics.

At 91Act, we are confident in our expertise within the gaming domain and firmly believe that we can compete with the most elite game studios out there. We have two pivotal pillars that substantiate our conviction.

Firstly, we excel in crafting high-quality action games, which are the cornerstone of our game development prowess. With our innate ability to blend captivating animations, visual effects, and immersive storytelling, we can instantly captivate players and ignite a strong desire for engagement.

Secondly, we possess an exceptional aptitude for shaping Japanese IPs and believe that we can surpass our peers in creating outstanding work. What sets us further apart is our unique capability to foster trusted relationships with IP rights holders, which is a crucial element in realizing our ambitions.

7Tell us more about your ideation process.

Our experience in the ACT genre and history of creating products under the BlazBlue license have equipped us with the necessary skills to introduce new experiences and innovations in our upcoming product. Our primary focus has been Roguelite, and creating a game that surpasses historical masterpieces is an exceptionally challenging task. To achieve this, the BlazBlue Entropy Effect development team has gathered a group of passionate gamers who are enthusiasts of this genre.

We started with experimental in-house demos in 2019 and gradually honed and refined the concept and gameplay until we established a clear vision and direction in 2021 when we began formal development. We have continually collected feedback from users who have experienced the game through various means, recognizing the importance of obtaining user feedback and support to steer the game's development direction and enhance the gaming experience. In essence, this game is a collaborative effort between players and the development team.

8Congratulations! As the winner of the NYX Game Awards, what does it mean for you and your team to receive this distinction?
Thanks a lot! As developers, we always prioritize three aspects: user feedback, market reception (sales) and prizes for our work. These factors are the driving force behind our dedication to the gaming industry. Therefore, awards serve as a significant source of inspiration for all developers of 91Act!
9How has winning an international award help promote your company and game?
We want to emphasize that receiving these awards not only inspires our entire team but also provides us with a tremendous opportunity to showcase our work to a wider audience. This encourages more people to start playing our games, and we are grateful for the chance to do so.
10What are the challenges of developing / marketing your winning entry(ies)?
Releasing our game on Steam was a major challenge for us at 91Act. Since our inception, we have focused primarily on developing mobile games, and this was our first attempt at developing and releasing a game on Steam. Game design is vastly different for mobile games, and it was a significant challenge to blend the IP's characteristics, tendencies of other works, and 91Act's quality standards to a high level. It took us a considerable amount of time to complete this task until we were satisfied with the result.
11What are the current trends in the game industry that you are most excited about?
The idea of "Super Indie Games" is a fascinating concept, which allows independent game developers to maintain their creative freedom and originality while expanding their budgets and scale. By achieving a balance between the market and creativity, it becomes possible to create more extensive and diverse experiences. This development process holds great promise for both creators and players, offering exciting possibilities for growth and innovation.
12What are the top THREE (3) favorite things about the gaming industry?

Partnership, passion, and creativity are three essential elements that are crucial to game development.

The game development is a collaborative effort, and our team has been through a lot together over an extended period. The partnerships we've cultivated within the team are incredibly valuable, both professionally and personally.

Passion plays a significant role in taking the creative output of our partners to its maximum potential. Without passion, game development would be impossible.

The job of creating something that doesn't yet exist in the world is what we engage in, and being able to make it a profession is of utmost importance. This is because the things we create come with a sense of responsibility, and game development allows us to experience the beauty of the creative process, including shouldering this great responsibility.

13What resources would you recommend to someone who is searching to improve their game designs and development ideas / skills?

I believe in the approach of "deconstruction and reconstruction." It is a useful method not only for game development but also for a wide range of entertainment content, such as comics, animations, movies, and high-quality games. The process involves breaking down and analyzing the elements that deeply touch or disappoint the audience, as well as the visually striking effects.

Behind the scenes of all the deeply moving or impressive results, there are reasons and logic that led to them. Instead of just copying the surface form, we aim to dissect and understand how its essence is constructed. This way, we can rebuild the dissected elements based on our own interpretation.

By embracing this habit, we can produce more sophisticated works and find various ways to achieve them.

14Where do you see the evolution of the gaming industry in the next 5-10 years?

Although addressing a nation's affairs is undoubtedly vital, I firmly believe that the future will see a more profound development of cross-border game development and business activities. The main point I wish to convey is that we should not limit problem-solving to narrow fields; instead, adopting a global perspective will increasingly become the standard approach for tackling issues.

I predict that in the next five to ten years, Japan will be more deeply immerse itself in global cross-border collaboration, becoming a major player in the worldwide gaming industry. This, in turn, will give birth to content and business models that were previously unimaginable.

15Who inspired you in your life, and why?

Throughout my time as an art student, many inspirational figures have impacted me, but none more so than Leonardo da Vinci. As I explored the works and life stories of renowned artists, it was da Vinci's early sketches of the natural world that truly left a deep impression on me. In particular, his ability to depict the intangible concept of wind in his drawings shattered my previous perception that art was limited to rendering visible things.

This realization was significant for me, as I began to understand the practical implications of breaking free from conceptual limitations. I developed a deeper interest in da Vinci's teachings and continue to learn from them to this day.

16What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?

Although I have been involved in the production of several best-selling works, I do not consider myself successful yet. My ultimate goal is to achieve greater heights of accomplishment in the gaming industry.

From my experience, I hesitate to speak of a "secret to success," but I believe that resilience and an unwavering commitment to never give up are essential. I think that maintaining an indomitable spirit and an unwavering determination to fulfill one's mission are the most crucial elements.

17Do you have anything else, which we haven’t covered, that you would like to include in this interview?

The award-winning BlazBlue Entropy Effect is the result of an unwavering and persistent journey. This game is firmly rooted in the popular "Roguelite" genre, and we have skillfully integrated numerous innovations and daring experiments, embarking on exciting new ventures. I take great pride in believing that it has made a significant contribution to the ongoing evolution of the gaming industry. I wholeheartedly hope that each one of you reading this interview will have the chance to personally experience the game.

Winning Entry

BlazBlue Entropy Effect | 2023

BlazBlue Entropy Effect | 91Act
BlazBlue Entropy Effect is the latest work by Team 91Act - a veteran Action game development team. As the …
(Read more at NYX Game Awards)

Hasegawa Hitoshi


Hasegawa Hitoshi, serving as the representative of 91Act Japan and an executive producer for BlazBlue Entropy Effect, found his entry into the gaming industry rooted in his student days. Captivated by CAPCOM's "Final Fight" and "Street Fighter," his passion for creating captivating games became the driving force behind his career trajectory.

Read more about this interview with Miles Whittaker from the United States, the Gold Winner of the 2023 NYX Game Awards.