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Keita Takahashi: Why I left Namco

"I didn't belong there any more."

Katamary Damacy and Noby Noby Boy creator Keita Takahashi has for the first time explained his decision to quit publisher Namco Bandai after 11 years working for the company.

In an open and frank admission the Japanese creator expressed sadness and boredom at the videogame industry's obsession with sequels.

"The reason why I quit Namco was because I started to feel like I didn't belong there any more," Takahashi told Eurogamer at the GameCity festival in Nottingham last week.

"The games I was making were not necessarily the best-selling ones. I realised Namco was, as a business, going down a bit.

"Also, my colleagues were leaving to do another project. I started to feel like I didn't belong there any more."

When Takahashi's Namco exit was confirmed he was quoted as describing Namco as a "so-so company".

By that time he had already expressed disinterest in making videogames, and left for Nottingham to design a playground with council funding.

Takahashi directed three games during his time with Namco Bandai: Katamari Damacy, sequel We Love Katamari and Noby Noby Boy, but his original Katamari game spawned the release of five sequels.

"After I started this playground project I felt it was the opportunity for me to start working on other things, not only videogames," he told Eurogamer.

While Takahashi's games have enjoyed critical acclaim they have failed to find commercial success.

Why? "Maybe because they're not so interesting," a downbeat Takahashi replied.

"The reason why is one of the things I'm trying to find out. If I knew, I wouldn't struggle. I don't know."

Takahashi bemoaned publishers' obsession with sequels, and described modern blockbusters as "boring".

"I find it quite boring that if a company creates one thing that sells really well then obviously the company is going to work on almost similar types of things to make more profit," he said.

"I can't deny the fact that people work on sequels. After all, it's a business. But at the same time, in the past decade or so, I've only seen most companies working on the safe side making more sequels.

"I haven't seen anyone trying to make something really new out of the profit they made from those sequels."

Last month Takahashi set up a new company, called uvula, with his composer wife Asuka Sakai.

He will work with his wife on music, but gave his fans hope that he's not done with videogames.

"I'm going to work on more videogames. Firstly for the playground project I feel my role hasn't finished yet. We have to start working in detail about colours and layout with the construction company.

"Also for other things, I have a handful of other projects. My wife is a music composer, so I'm hoping to work on some music thing. Also, if I can come up with a really good idea for new games, then I may approach some companies and say, 'Look, this is my idea.'

"In general, I want to work on lots of different things that I couldn't work on when I was at Namco."

And what's the biggest change in Takahashi's personal life since leaving Namco?

"I have more time to talk to my wife."

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About the Author

Wesley Yin-Poole avatar

Wesley Yin-Poole

Deputy Editorial Director

Wesley is deputy editorial director of ReedPop. He likes news, interviews, and more news. He also likes Street Fighter more than anyone can get him to shut up about it.


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