Atlus Discusses Desire to Grow Within the Industry, Persona 6 Needing to Surpass Persona 5, Studio Overview

Atlus Japan recently posted a recruitment page for new positions through job recruiting website Green. The page includes comments from staff members who were interviewed.

Most of the developer comments revolve around the work environment at Atlus, as well as what the company wishes to achieve in the future.

On Persona 6

When discussing the creative prospects of the company, Atlus director Naoto Hiraoka had the following to say about a sequel to the recently released Persona 5:

Unfortunately, the hurdles to overcome [in game development] increase every year.

Thanks to the large amount of support we received for “Persona 5,” we have gotten a sense of accomplishment. But we can’t stop there. When we created “Persona 4,” there was pressure that it had to exceed “Persona 3.” Now, we will have to create a “6” which exceeds “5.” However, exceeding “5” will be difficult with the current staff. I would like to surpass this tall hurdle with everyone who joins us in this recruitment. The workplace is perfect for those who want a creative challenge when it comes to bringing games to the world.

Previously, Hiraoka responded to a question by GNN Gamer concerning the outlook of Persona 6—considering the Persona 5 creative team’s involvement with Studio Zero—by stating that the Persona series remains Atlus’ most important, and that “the next step” is already in preparation.

On Atlus Company Expansion & Goals

  • Atlus states that, currently, they are a medium sized developer in the 10-12th class range in the games industry. Their brand power is growing dramatically with the expansion of their userbase due to key titles such as PersonaShin Megami Tensei and Etrian Odyssey. The company’s reception in the West is increasing accordingly, as well. Atlus aims to be a 5th class company in the games industry by creating new IP and further growing existing series, with “originality and empathy” as the principle policy.
  • For the time being, Atlus plans to increase the number of major positions at their company such as planners, programmers, and designers in order to achieve a stable sales goal of 1 million units annually.

On Establishing Studio Zero

  • Atlus is currently undergoing a major transformation. Until now, the company’s game development was divided between the first and second production studios; the former responsible for the Shin Megami Tensei series, and the latter for the Persona series. Last autumn, however, a new division called “Studio Zero” was established, specializing in the development of new titles. Hiraoka states that this restructuring is to bring the company to the next level.
  • Persona and Shin Megami Tensei titles are well received, however they are sequels to existing franchises. Atlus has a company policy of “continuation and innovation.” To meet the policy of continuation, they will continue to offer titles in existing series that customers expect of them. On the other hand, “innovation” has been something that they have not been meeting lately. Through this restructuring and recruitment, more resources will be put into “innovation,” to achieve the policy which was the foundation of Atlus.

On Overseas Reception

  • Atlus’ brand power has reached a global stage with the company’s games having surpassed the scope of merely Japan, and they are critically acclaimed abroad. Hiraoka states that, while some other Japanese companies’ titles might sell one or two copies overseas for every 10 sold in Japan, Atlus’ games sell about as much in Japan as they do abroad.
  • Atlus are not specifically aiming to create games that will sell worldwide, however there is a feeling that the overseas audience is seeking the games for their Japanese nature. In Persona 5, the hero is a Japanese high school student, and the game has depictions of Japanese school lunches and school excursions, which might be difficult for the overseas audience to understand. But that has lead to an assessment that Atlus represents Japanese subculture.

First Production (Shin Megami Tensei, Etrian Odyssey, Devil Survivor, Etc.)

First Production – Shinjiro Takada (Joined in February 2004)

 

  • First production is the studio responsible for the development of titles such as Shin Megami Tensei [with an internal team dubbed “Team Maniax”], Etrian Odyssey and Devil Survivor. Takada thinks it is a perfect environment for those who like RPGs and want to impress customers by making high quality games.
  • They have a culture where members are encouraged to voice their opinions, raising the quality of their games. There are no barriers for speaking up, and battle systems, scenarios and other game elements are actively discussed by everyone.
  • The studio will continue to develop new series and new titles in the future, however scenarios in RPGs are voluminous, so development can be long-term, taking two to three years to complete.
  • The company continues to stick to a game’s quality, even when it is no longer possible to continue making a game by thinking only in terms of business. Those who are in love with their work and who want to put their all into it should apply.

Second Production (P Studio)

Second Production – From Left: Naoya Maeda (Joined in March 2002), Daisuke Kaneda (Joined in April 1997), Director Naoto Hiraoka, Kazuhisa Wada (Joined in November 1998), Hirokazu Toyama (Joined in August 2002)

  • Second production is the studio based on Atlus’ flagship series, Persona.
  • Wada: “Although the latest title, Persona 5, had a considerably prolonged production process, fans were still looking forward to it. Those involved with Persona 5 wanted to release a game which would meet these expectations. From now on, I would like to create more and more new titles, and we are recruiting for that. Personally, I would like to gather people who have a ‘sharp’ confidence in their strengths as an asset, even if they might have other weaknesses, in order to create more unique games.”
  • Maeda: We are aiming to create games which will stand out, and not be buried by all the other games in the world. Creating something that people will sympathize with, we give top priority to what we want to express.”
  • Toyama: Our company’s game production has a lot of trial and error. It’s often necessary to point out something that isn’t fun. It’s good to have someone who can analyze that and give a reason for why something isn’t interesting.”
  • Kaneda: I want to work with people who can enjoy creating things. These people need knowledge and can respond flexibly when being advised. Someone who has had experience in something like music or theater in the past, like one who has experienced making something with someone before, who was never self-satisfied in their work, who has been evaluated by others and who has produced results.”

Third Production (Studio Zero)

Third Production – Katsura Hashino (Joined in April 1994)

  • Third production is called “Studio Zero.” Its aim is to develop the future of Atlus and the industry, established as Persona 5‘s development ended. The challenge embarked by the studio is to develop a completely new IP targeted at household game fans.
  • When the world was overflowing with fantasy games, Atlus released strange titles with contemporary drama, mythology and demons as a counter to this trend. In that way, they built the Shin Megami Tensei and Persona series. However, nowadays, all kinds of games are available around the world. So in this situation, what could Atlus do as a counter to this era? Studio Zero was born from this problem.
  • Studio Zero wants to daringly challenge the idea of a fantasy RPG. What makes a fantasy RPG good? Hashino would like to delve into the reason why game players would want a fantasy world in the first place. The project which is currently underway is titled Project Re Fantasy A Fool’s Journey Begins.
  • The fantasy RPG is a challenge returning to Atlus’ policy of “continuation and innovation,” with the perspective of entering an underdeveloped medium and entice a wide variety of customers. It’s starting from zero, hence the name Studio Zero.
  • Studio Zero is recruiting on a large scale as it is a newly formed production studio. They look forward to welcoming people who lend to the “Innovation” which “Studio Zero” aims for.

On Atlus’ History

  • One of the most important games Hiraoka worked on was Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne, as the first title he worked on for the company. It was a game that signified a turning point for Atlus. Before then, their games were critically mixed and there were some bad titles. With the great positive reception of Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne, they decided to focus on quality and going beyond the customers’ expectations from then on.
  • The second most important game for Hiraoka was Persona 3. Until that point, the games Atlus sold were “dark” but, for the first time, they released a title that was “stylish” and “cool.” It was successful, and appealed to a younger generation compared to “Shin Megami Tensei.” This was when fans started to want to buy games for the “Atlus” brand.
  • The turnover rate at Atlus is low, so most of the key members from the time Hiraoka joined the company (in 2002) are still there. Everyone there has an attachment as a team.

On Hiraoka’s Role as Director

Director – Joined Atlus in 2002. Served as project manager for “Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne,” “Persona 3” and “Persona 4.” Became responsible for seeing company development as a whole in 2007.

  • For users, Hiraoka’s director role consists of meeting their expectations. Atlus will not release a game until they are sure they can meet expectations. Even if the planned release dates need to be shifted, they will not release the game until they’re satisfied.
  • For employees, his director role is about protecting their employment. Game development takes many years. In the past, Atlus had a period of unstable business conditions due to changes in capital ties. For game companies, work environments that can function reliably for a long time are indispensable. Atlus has a system where employees will get bonuses if they reach the budget, but if the budget is surpassed, their salary will go down instead. Part of Hiraoka’s role is to properly respect the budgets and give out bonuses.

Jobs Atlus is Currently Looking For

First ProductionSecond ProductionThird ProductionAtlus
System PlannerSystem PlannerSystem PlannerInternal Systems Engineer
Scenario PlannerScenario PlannerScenario PlannerProject Manager
Designer.
Specifically:
1. 3DCG Design
2. Motion Design
3. Technical Designer
4. Concept Art Production
5. Event Scene Production video director)
6. Effects Design
7. Interface Design
Designer.
Specifically:
1. 2D Artwork
2. 3DCG Design
3. Motion Design
4. Event Scene Production (video director)
5. Effects Design
6. Interface Design
Designer.
Specifically:
1. Concept Art Production
2. 3DCG Design
3. Motion Design
4. Event Scene Production (video director)
5. Effects Design
6. Interface Design
Executive Secretary, Human Resources, General Affairs Assistant
ProgrammerProgrammerProgrammer

Atlus Company Details

  • Capital: 10 million yen
  • Founded: September 2013 (acquired by Sega)
  • Number of Employees: 210 people

Green-Japan

The Art of Persona 5
Prima Games Prima Games (2017-06-27)
  • Devil Survivor 3 when???

    • Shitposting Naoto

      2070

  • Valwin Mediaz

    Im sure they will surpass Persona 6, the series does good because it stays true to itself it does not try to add a bunch of unneeded crap just to appeal to everyone. especially on the characters they feel legit .

    • Nicko Valentino

      IKR , this is where SE , especially Final Fantasy failed !

    • Just mix up themes (P3 was very urban, P4 was very rural, P5 is too stylish…that sort of thing) and give us good character arcs and we’re good to go?

      • Patrick Honeyman

        I’m interested in what setting/senario you would be interested in seeing for Persona 6? Director Katsura Hashino mentioned he would like to see the MC go on a journey (probably through Japan but maybe further afield) gaining members for your party along the way. Although he’s moved on to head Studio 0 now, is there a chance a new game director for the next numbered instalment will mean a change of direction for the series?

        I would like to see players take control of someone who isn’t a middle school student. We’ve had that for the last three games now and its time to (I think) make them at least of university student age or in their early 20s. It would allow Atlus to go even further with the maturity of the main and side stories in the game too (the fact that Persona 5 has moved 1.5m units worldwide would suggest the audience is ready for this level of mature and more adutlt-facing content).

        Those are my two cents anyway. Now its down to the dev teams to help Persona emerge as the premium JRPG series from Japan going forwards (the arc isn’t that disimlar to FF and DQ. I hope it continues to rise in popularity).

        • I was actually thinking the same thing…the highschool part IS a reasonable cliche (and gives good excuse for the 1 year period), but it would be nice to broaden it a bit. I do feel however that they also want to keep the highschool teen drama going as well though and that might make it pretty hard to keep if they make the main character too old (imagine a 26 year old for example going after Futaba…mostly the reaction in the west would be table flips and exaggeration).

          Still, I don’t have any theme in mind at this point, as long as they don’t go with western action movie or emo cliches I’m good to go.

        • Shadowriver

          That would be quite of a challenge for Persona format, which have events that can work for whole year, when places changes it would be hard to maintain integrity of those events. Studio 0 is still Atlus so Katsura Hashino can still input to Persona 6.

        • Carl Collier

          I would *LOVE* a Persona game with a more diverse cast, yeah. I mean yeah Japan is all well and good but what about a Japanese student in America, or England or something. That’d be pretty baller.

        • ls. CαⱤєѕχ

          just release it to pc too

          • how ya doin?

            No

  • Thor Mjolnirs

    Atlus needs to make PC versions already. It’s stubborn of them not to do so when companies like Square Enix find success on Steam and Humble Bundle.

    • Dio

      That will happen if SEGA demands it.

    • Shitposting Naoto

      Stop port begging plz

    • Raziel Kõbe

      PCbeggarrace

      • Giant Sloar

        Fuck us for not wanting to buy a giant plastic paperweight with no backward compatibility, right?

        • UNIverse

          Yes. This is how the industry has worked for a very long time. Either adapt or suck it up.

          • Giant Sloar

            Nah, if 2017 is indication, it’s the industry that’s starting to adapt to us.

          • Raziel Kõbe

            They said: “The consoles will die in 2015”. Playstation 4 sold 57,6 million, Switch is a big sucess and obvious the consoles are dead.

          • Giant Sloar

            >Implying Metroid isn’t dead

          • DyingLight

            Dead or not, you still CANNOT play it legally on your super duper rig, period.
            Unless, of course, you pirate it like most of you PC beggars do LMAO.

          • Giant Sloar

            Metroid: Other M isn’t available on PC, I had to settle for AM2R instead, the horror.

        • Raziel Kõbe

          backward compatibility… Lol this excuse is trash. You play old games for all eternity? This is only bonus. We want new games! Tha’ts the XboxOne problem: no new games and all the advertising is about the amazing “backward compatibility”.

        • Multiplataformgamerz

          better than buying a 800 bucks rig to play minecraft, LoL, starbound and roblox

          • Giant Sloar

            Right, but the important part is, you don’t have to keep your old rig to play old games.

        • BabyMagnum

          Fuck us for thinking that Japan actually cares about PC games outside of otomes and dating sims right?

          • Giant Sloar

            What?

          • BabyMagnum

            It’s sarcasm. I hate to point this out but Japan doesn’t get a bloody damn about the PC. It sells really bad in that country, not counting the Xbox.

            When was the last time you heard of a PC game breaking a record of a console or a handheld game in Japan? It rarely happens with the exception of otome and dating sim games. Most of the time Japanese developers sell games on the PC for the West rather than their own country.

            The last Persona game was P1 on the PC.

          • Giant Sloar

            Right, but the article said that Atlus tends to sell as many games overseas as it does in Japan, so they still have plenty of incentive to port. So given the success of games like Nier Automata on PC, who knows what will happen? I don’t think Thor is unreasonable for hoping.

          • BabyMagnum

            But this is where it gets tricky. If they put it on the PC it wouldn’t sell as many games in Japan as it would overseas because PC has no market in Japan outside of what I mentioned. There’s an expected loss of revenue.They would have to sell double the amount overseas to make that up. And Atlus is a broke company who had to deal with hardships in the past. If Atlus put P5 remake on the PC there is no guarantee that fans will buy the game and put their money where their mouth is.

            I would. People are not bloody me though and just like to talk.

      • DyingLight

        ikr?
        and they say console gamers are peasants! We all know who the REAL peasants are. PCbeggarrace4life LMAO!

        • LittleGreen

          You still have an under performing piece of hardware though. If you want to play any FPS, console is the worst way to go.

          • DyingLight

            Guess what?! I don’t like FPS. So it doesn’t concern me at all.

    • Multiplataformgamerz

      so you can piratebay it? hehehe

    • Carl Collier

      Imagine all the mods people would make…

  • HvnlyDaze

    give me my p1/p2 remakes, or i will… continue to support your games. you’ve been warned, atlus

    • Valwin Mediaz

      i want this but im afraid about it

    • P1 and P2 did get PSP remakes, and I’m pretty sure they didn’t do well…mostly because no matter how you look at it, they are just ok, nothing special or amazing about them (try the first 30 minutes of P2, ignoring the existance of later games and then tell me it’s awesome…I actually dare you). If you change them too much, you might as well not remake them and just produce a completely new game right from the start.

      Just close your eyes and imagine that P3 is the start and nothing exists before it…that’s how I went with it and I’m quite happy with that thought, the games are not really tied toghether that much anyway.

      • Kalkano

        Those were enhanced ports, not remakes. What I want is P2 actually remade, in the P5 engine.

        • Technically, P1 can count as a remake since the PS1 version previously released outside of Japan was only half the game, this one includes the missing half.

          Still, if you’re going to “fix the bad story” and also completely remake it in a new engine, why bother to begin with when you’re obviously making a completely new game?

          • Kalkano

            Actually, that content existed in the Japanese release, and was only removed for the western release (no idea why).

            Your second sentence is literally the definition of a remake, so if everyone followed that logic, no game would ever be remade.

          • I did kind’a add “outside of Japan” for a reason there…I already played both versions.

            No, take Resident Evil 1 for example – same story, same cliches, just different engine and one or two tweaks that don’t really matter. That game however was great to begin with, so just graphic improvements were more than enough to carry it over to the present gaming.

            Persona 1 and 2 are mediocre as it is, a graphics upgrade alone will not bring huge sales to justify the ridiculous amount of time to do it. Also again, focus on my point – if you’ll make so many changes to make an old acceptable game great…why not just push forward and make a greater game from the start, leaving the past behind?

          • Kalkano

            Sorry, somehow I glazed over the “outside of Japan” part.

            I also didn’t mean that fixing a story was part of a remake. But, saying that P1 and P2 are “just mediocre” is just an opinion. Personally, I thought P2 was really good, and a remake in P5’s engine could make it fantastic. If there was ever a time to do it, when it would make financial sense to do so, it’s now, after the success of P5.

          • Correct me if I’m wrong, it’s been quite a while, but doesn’t P2 start something along these lines?
            – you’re a really popular guy at school that somehow doesn’t talk with anyone
            – you get sort’ve mugged when you start hearing persona voices in real world
            – principal basically threatens you with death
            – you get a note saying your classmate is kidnapped by Captain Pantsu (I always called him that back then) and she’ll be killed if you don’t fight him
            – turns out it was all an elaborate scheme by Captain Pantsu’s friends to get you to come to a dark alley to ask you to join their band
            – even though Captain Pantsu is supposed to hate you, he is really cool with this
            – stalker girlfriend proposes a really stupid ritual out of nowhere, getting 3 people basically killed
            – they somehow manage to survive and don’t question anything that happened, but immediately get the idea to save the world and get weapons

            I don’t remember that much about further in, but I’m pretty sure that’s more of less what happens in the first 2 hours of the game…and that this quality level was maintained though most of the game.

          • Kalkano

            I definitely don’t remember it like that, but also can’t remember the exact details of how it all started. I know I had no problems with it when I played it (which was only a year or two ago).

      • hng qtr

        Try the first 30 minutes of Persona 3 and 4 and then tell me it’s awesome… at least P5 let you play a bit before dumping four hours of text and cutscenes on you.

        • All Persona games have a generally bad start with things going all over the place for no reason (important rule when writing a story: question everything that is going on).
          P4 and P5 improved a lot on that (P4 was on reails, but it was interesting, P5 was all over the place but made you do stuff to keep you entertained), but yes, P3 was in the same place as P2.

  • Edgar

    Hoping they will release more stuff for PS4. Re Fantasy included, of course!!!

  • Dio

    I just want another P3-P4 case with only 2 years of waiting for the next big experience.

    • Mintos

      considering they said they are already bouncing ideas for the next game I wouldn’t be surprised if that is the case

      • SleemShadyR

        No way will that be the case, i’d guess the next game will be a 5/6 year wait.

        • Patrick Honeyman

          Do you not think they want to ride the wave of Persona 5 and the brand’s current level of popularity? I’d be very surprised if they don’t.

          We’re totally going to get either an updated release or spin-off game announcement at the concert in early August. That lengthy survey I filled in earlier this year asked about all sorts of game types/genres. You know they’ll have analysed that information and taken it under consideration when decided what projects to either continue working on or greenlight.

          My educated guess is they will announce another collaboration with ASW for the next Persona Arena game including the core Persona 5 cast. A re-release of Persona 5 will also get announced too.

    • Amir Paydar

      I agree, I can’t wait that long again for the next game. I’m sure the devlopment for 6 will be much faster since they’ve got all the HD renders of Personas done as well as a finished game engine from 5.

    • Handriawan

      Please watch the gamespot video. Persona 3 is in fact delayed ala Persona 5 so the 2 years gap is not that they worked aggressively… They made Persona 4 while fixing and finishing Persona 3. It’s even said about FES version to fix vanilla’s issue

      • Dio

        I don’t like gamespot. But still I believe you.

    • Hyou Vizer

      if they use the same graphics engine for Persona 6 from P5 then possibly

      that was the main reason Persona 4 came out so shortly after Persona 3

  • Funtime Happysnacks

    I am filled with hope.

  • Shitposting Naoto

    I want to work at atlus :3

  • chaz

    Guys, I’ve only just started to cope with the wait for P5 (and how it was all worth it), pls don’t do this to me already

  • simon askew

    Will Atlus start doing sequels for p3 p4 p5 and pq?

  • Drew Clock

    Please for the love of God Atlus, don’t try to tone down the Japanese-ness of Persona. That’s why I LOVE them.

    • how ya doin?

      They won’t that is for damn sure.

  • LingeringLight

    Maybe adding a gender option for Persona 6? I’ll still buy it either way ofc.

  • Vallen

    Would be cook if P6 was in college

    • Hyou Vizer

      i’d sure as hell hope so too, im sick of the damn teenager party in high school setting also have a college professor be a party member annnnnd possibly be romance option, they did that with your high school teacher in P5 sooo bring it next level yes hehe

  • BabyMagnum

    Date dudes and have someone older on the team.

    A major complaint is that make S. links harder. Not just three options. Make it easier to reverse/in depth.

    Honestly I don’t care but I hear the above a lot in threads and forums.

    • not my real name

      Female protagonists, too. I had thought after P3P that would be a given, but no.

  • Skorm94

    Would actually love for p6 to use the concept they were initially going to use for p5: the road trip.
    They would have to change up the formula and the potential for storytelling is immense.

  • zed grim

    crosspaws idea might do it with a little help.

  • Deal with it…

    I am waiting on Playstation 5 and VR so they can do a “Golden” type version with some sweet goodies. Sony will have to pull a rabbit out of their butt to keep the PC master-race at bay for another generation though.

  • eddnav

    You fucking go Atlus!

  • ls. CαⱤєѕχ

    do you know how much money u are loosing?
    if u wont be hurry rpcs3 will take the lead and then u can say “goodbye” to money

  • Addison “The fallen angel”

    I do kinda have ideas for a persona 6 but that’s not what I am commenting I just want to express how I feelings about the Series in a whole, I really love the game story/ series so far. so I hope that continues to be the case, and even if it doesn’t surpass personsa 5 i’ll still love it.