A new Kyoto-based indie studio, Denkiworks, has just been announced by former Q-Games developers. In a move to give themselves full creative freedom, Liam Edwards, Taku Arioka and Jan de Graaf have moved on from Q-Games and already started work on their first game.
A love for Japan
The trio come from backgrounds in design and programming, with Edwards and Arioka having worked in the former, and Graaf the latter. They all formerly worked on Pixeljunk Scrappers, a mobile game that was created in handheld form thanks to Apple Arcade.
Edwards is also the game director and creator of Chuhai Labs' Cursed to Golf, and is still actively working on the title.
Already working on its first game, Denkiworks is located in Kyoto as it is the place where the trio first met – back in 2018 during their time with Q-Games. At present, the debut title is only known publicly under its codename Project Tanuki, with a full reveal coming at a later, unspecified date.
As reported by Game Developer, Project Tanuki is being developed in Unity with a key ambition in mind: creating the first of many titles with a "unique feel and East meets West perspective".
While Arioka acknowledged the risk in creating a new studio, the trio clearly finds the creative freedom that comes with it, and demonstrating a love for Japan, to be worth the gamble.
"It's been so stimulating to collaborate with Liam and Jan again, and work on the new project has been progressing so well already. We cannot wait to reveal it to the world," Arioka said.
Edwards added: "We are so excited to finally reveal Denkiworks. We’ve been hard at work on our first title, inspired by our experiences of life in Japan, coming from an expat and native perspective.
"It’s essentially a love letter to this country and its beautiful culture. We all have an idealised vision of what Japan is, especially its stunning countryside, popularised in art and media over centuries. Project Tanuki will be our take on that."
When we reached out to Edwards for further comment, he shared his hopes, goals and ambitions for Denkiworks' future with us: "Honestly, firstly to get funded and be able to work on the projects we are aiming to make. Then make that as sustainable as possible. This is a long term project for us and we really want to aim to make the best games we can for many years.
"Japan is our home and it just is second nature to be here. A big part of our philosophy for making games stems from being here, so to be surrounded by constant inspiration makes it easy."
Basing the studio in Japan may turn out to be a smart move, as Japanese audiences can be eager spenders; in the first week of Harry Potter: Magic Awakened's global release, Japan accounted for only 15.3 percent of installs but a major 41.6 percent of revenue.
At the same time, we would really like Square Enix to release more mobile games in the West...