19 June, 2016

Where in the world is Yoshikatsu Fujita?

Those who follow my blog know for sure that I have an great admiration for Fujita-san who over the years has single-handedly produced some of the best pinballs simulations.  (Well, this is not quite true: the graphics are due to Reiko Nojima, his wife, who is a fabulous graphics artist). When in October 2012 I published my top-ten list of pinballs, LittleWing, Fujita-san's pinball company, appeared in places 3, 5, 9 and 10 with a special mention (imagine this as 10bis) for Tristan. (I realise now that the list has not been updated for almost four years now. This is something that should be remedied at one point). 

Over the years LittleWing released 11 great pinball simulations for the Mac

To the Mac pinballs appearing in the screenshot above one should add the iOS versions of Tristan and of Crystal Caliburn.

Unfortunately towards the end of 2012 Littlewing closed its doors exiting the pinball simulation business. In a 2013 post I offered an explanation of this decision. In a nutshell. Pinball development was a sustainable business when the typical price was at around 30 $. When the prices fell to the 2-4 $ range, Fujita-san could no more make a living out of his pinballs. I wrote a detailed post on the devastating damage of freemium in particular on digital pinballs. However, in the case of Littlewing, the irreparable damage was already done before prices collapsed to zero: once the prices went below some threshold the business was dead in the water.

A few days ago, out of pure nostalgia, I decided to look for Fujita-san. My reasoning was that, since he is a great programmer, once LittleWing shut its doors, he should have sought employment with some internet company. It turned out that my hunch was correct. Looking for Fujita-san I found his Twitter page. With the help of my japanese connection I was able to access the details in his tweets. So, Fujita-san went to work for “Twitter Japan” in January 2013 and then he moved to “Twitter US” in October 2013. He lives in California, in San Mateo and is currently working as software engineer at Google. 

It is my feeling that Fujita-san's pinball days are things of the past. I do not think we are going to see a LittleWing revival in any foreseeable future. Still I felt that it was worth the try to write to Fujita-san and request an interview for the blog. If ever I get an answer rest assured that I will report on this.

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