'Just give it a go'
In a new Iwata Asks, Game Freak discusses how an internal policy not unlike Google's "20 percent time" program allowed the studio to come up with its latest original IP, HarmoKnight. "...we decided to change the internal structure of the company so that we could initiate new projects while still being able to give our all on Pokémon titles," said producer Junichi Masuda. "We have structured things so that if you come up with an idea for a game, you can write a proposal for it; if you can then get two other people to support it, you will be given three months to make it.
"Anyone can work on developing a game, as long as you can find two other people prepared to come on board with the project. Then, after three months, we will check on the game’s progress." He continued: "And if we think it’s worth pursuing, we will give the team another three months to work on it. Then, six months after work begins on a game, the management will make a decision as to whether or not to turn it into a full-blown project. HarmoKnight is the first fruit of our company’s new system, which encourages people who have an idea to just give it a go."
That comment got Nintendo president Satoru Iwata to reminisce: "Back when you and I began working in game development, that would very much be the attitude: 'Just give it a go!' That was how projects would get started." He even pulled a "back in my day..." by saying that, back then, "you were expected to come up with a new title every three months. It's unthinkable nowadays!"