New pachinko laws pushed SNK back to games

Whatever works

Six years after its last major release, SNK Playmore is getting back to its roots as a game studio.

In 2015, SNK made a surprising about-face. Not only did the Neo Geo company announce a new entry in the King of Fighters series after spending the better part of a decade exploiting its past work, rather than make anything new, it also revealed plans to abandon its pachinko business.  

Speaking with Famitsu in a recent interview, SNK gaming division boss Yutaka Noguchi reiterated the company’s change of course was partially brought on by new pachislot regulations in Japan. According to Noguchi, SNK would have needed to make drastic changes to how it does things no matter what, and ultimately decided a return to game development was for the best.

“Even as of now, we’re better known as a game company than a pachislot company,” said Noguchi. “People still talk about us (as a game company) when we say our name.”

While the company hasn’t put out any big original projects since King of Fighters XIII in 2010, it has re-released a number of classic SNK titles on various digital marketplaces, like Steam and smartphones, in recent years. The sales on these platforms, Noguchi says, helped encourage the company to return to games, rather than double down on pachinko.

To help restore the company to what it once was, Noguchi adds SNK has recently brought back a number of veteran developers who have left the company over the years in addition to reallocating personnel from the pachinko division to game development.

SNKプレイモアがゲーム事業を強化 その真意をキーパーソンに直撃 [Famitsu via MMCafe]

Kyle MacGregor Burleson