A portion of a Polygon interview with Tomonobu Itagaki...
P: Let's talk about how Devil's Third ended up on Wii U.
TI: When we were working with Danny at THQ, he said that because this is such a unique game it should be on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC. So Danny and I initially decided that this game should be a multiplatform game. When THQ went bankrupt, Kanematsu approached [Satoru] Iwata-san at Nintendo and they picked up the game. The reason why Nintendo picked up the game is that they don't have enough strong online games. Devil's Third is not a game that Nintendo could make internally, so we came in as their mercenaries to make a strong online game.
P: I heard that Nintendo U.S. was obligated to find a publisher in the U.S., but when they were not able to find a publisher they had to release it as a first-party title. The way they released it, it seemed they only made the minimal effort necessary to satisfy their legal obligation. It was very hard to find physical copies, and there was very low visibility and awareness.
TI: I generally don't like to badmouth people and I have nothing but appreciation toward Nintendo for releasing Devil's Third. However, I don't believe that they gave this game their best effort in promoting and selling the game. At the same time, I also understand their position.
P: Since you're planning on moving the IP forward with sequels, if all goes according to plan, the next game won't take eight years, correct?
TI: Maybe sixteen years [laughs].
P: The reviews for Devil's Third weren't stellar. A lot of reviews were saying that if it had come out in 2008 it would have been fine, but now it seems dated. The general view was that the game was stuck in the late Xbox 360 era. So, since nobody knows about your plans for a Devil's Third trilogy — I'm guessing this interview is the first anyone will learn of them — because of the reviews and the long wait of the release versus the end result, a cynical response to this is that these are the sequels that nobody asked for. How would you respond to that?
TI: Let me explain this in parts. First, the reason the reviews were so poor. I have analyzed the reason. This game was designed to be a massive shooter, so it would be fun if there were at least a thousand players in the game. But Nintendo didn't set up online matches for reviewers. So there was no way for reviewers to experience the online mode as we designed it, and they reviewed the game based mostly on the single-player story mode. If it had been Microsoft that had published the game, they would have given the game to a group of 500 players who had signed an NDA to play for the reviewers to experience the massive online mode. But NOA didn't do that.
So I don't blame the reviewers for underestimating the experience of the online mode. There's no value to the review of someone who's evaluating a piece of art with blindfolds on. That was 95 percent of the negative criticism toward the game. The remaining 5 percent was by people who wanted to build credibility by criticising the game. And this is my assumption, but one person wrote a negative review and NOA didn't do anything to stop or change the review, so others followed suit. So I don't really believe that the reviews were credible. Although I haven't read all the reviews, the reviews I saw were not very objective, more emotional.