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For Toru Kawakatsu, winning a 70-second spot on Nintendo Co.’s popular Direct showcase in March was the culmination of an unusual strategy many dismissed as quixotic.

His four-person game studio, dubbed Petit Depotto, started work on an adventure game called Gnosia for the PlayStation Vita portable console back in 2015. The Vita was already ailing back then, and Sony Corp. had stopped announcing sales numbers for it, but Kawakatsu and his friends didn’t waver.

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