The modern Persona series is synonymous with slick, sexy UI design, making games like Persona 4 Golden, Persona 5 Royal, and the recently released Persona 3 Reload instantly recognizable. Atlus' efforts are so far ahead of the curve in this regard, and shockingly, it turns out the secret to this success relies simply upon retaining key staff and paying them appropriately.
Highlighted by UX designer Alex Tokmakchiev on Twitter, Persona 5 director Katsura Hashino spoke about the company's extraordinary UI advantage in an interview with Persona Central in late December when members of HoYoVerse (Genshin Impact, Honkai Star Rail) paid a visit. Originally nfluenced by websites using Flash to create stylish homepages, the developer entrusted UI work to senior designers and paid them appropriately. That's it! Hashino sets the scene:
"In terms of functionality, games that focus on immersion, such as action games, tend to have a very minimal UI. It might have been once considered what's trendy, but it's a common standard now. In JRPGs, you spend a lot of time in menus, so the interface itself is part of the game, rather than being something separate."
Explaining how Atlus differs on this front, Hashino points to specific Japanese development norms, which are flipped entirely when it comes to Persona. Hashino said: "In Japan, UI design is often handled by new employees. Top-level designers are usually in charge of characters and background graphics, with the UI being secondary. I think that's a mistake. That's why Atlus' UI designers are paid so well (laughs)."