'We just happened to release it into the market at the right time': Even after Elden Ring's DLC victory lap, FromSoftware's Hidetaka Miyazaki still wears the 'soulslike' crown with humility

Hidetaka Miyazaki, president of Fromsoftware.
(Image credit: Fromsoft)

It's not an understatement to say that FromSoftware changed the gaming industry with Demon's Souls in 2009 and, later, Dark Souls in 2011—proving that challenging, punishing games can absolutely find mainstream success.

So much success, in fact, that it soon spawned a flood of flattering imitators—and so received the honour of creating a genre named after itself: The soulslike. It's a name so pervasive that any soulslike review will, invariably, still use FromSoftware's games as a measuring stick, which is sometimes unfair, but pretty much unavoidable.

Yet even in the wake of Elden Ring's DLC victory lap, Shadow of the Erdtree, FromSoftware president Hidetaka Miyazaki is still very much humble about the honour of producing an entire genre named after his work, as per a recent interview with Rolling Stone.

As the interview states, Miyazaki doesn't quite consider FromSoftware to be solely responsible for the genre itself: "We just happened to release it into the market at the right time … So as happy as it makes us, I think it’s also very humbling to know that there has been a lot of credit given to us for naming a genre."

It might be easy to see this as a humble auteur, merrily brushing off praise and honours—but he's right, actually. These kinds of naming conventions aren't usually bestowed for the invention of a genre, but rather, they're there as markers for the games that perfected the base formula.

Miyazaki has all the more reason to believe that, because he came to FromSoftware in 2004, a full 10 years after the release of King's Field in 1994. King's Field was an oppressive, mystifying dungeon crawler that often hid even basic mechanics from you. It, itself, has been seeing something of a resurgence as a genre in its own right, with games like Dread Delusion.

So should we be calling them fieldlikes? Not really—here's an archived Gamer's Republic magazine excerpt in which a trio of devs credit 1981's Wizardry for inspiring King's Field: "we really liked a game called Wizardry and we thought that this kind of game would be suited to the PlayStation’s polygon ability", quoteth the ancient texts. Wizardrylikes, then. Well, no—Wizardry itself has its roots in Oubliette.

If you're beginning to notice a pattern, that's wise. Simply put, every single game (and arguably, every single thing made by anyone) has been inspired by something else. Knowing your inspirations, learning from them, and remixing them has been standard practice since we started scrawling paintings on cave walls. Personally, I think Grob should've gotten more credit for Elden Ring after his seminal work, 'Grob poise-breaks great mammoth with large stick'.

Anyway, it's nice—if expected—to see that Miyazaki also plays other soulslike games, but "not so much as a consumer but as research, so to speak … It’s very stimulating for me to be able to see it from many different angles, because we’re all working within the same sandbox, in a way."

Personally, I think FromSoftware will always be the king of its own sandcastle—but other soulslike offerings from 2023 have also been very good in their own ways. I thoroughly enjoyed Lies of P, Lords of the Fallen, and Remnant 2 last year, and I'm excited to see what comes out of the soulslike-fieldlike-wizardrylike-oubliettelike genre next. Jeez, what a mouthful. Sorry Miyazaki, I think I'll be sticking with soulslike for now.

Harvey Randall
Staff Writer

Harvey's history with games started when he first begged his parents for a World of Warcraft subscription aged 12, though he's since been cursed with Final Fantasy 14-brain and a huge crush on G'raha Tia. He made his start as a freelancer, writing for websites like Techradar, The Escapist, Dicebreaker, The Gamer, Into the Spine—and of course, PC Gamer. He'll sink his teeth into anything that looks interesting, though he has a soft spot for RPGs, soulslikes, roguelikes, deckbuilders, MMOs, and weird indie titles. He also plays a shelf load of TTRPGs in his offline time. Don't ask him what his favourite system is, he has too many.