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Atlus Parent Company Filing for Bankruptcy

by Justin Baker - June 28, 2013, 6:54 am EDT
Total comments: 35 Source: (NeoGAF), http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=60556..., (Kotaku), http://kotaku.com/atlus-parent-company-is-under-in..., http://kotaku.com/atlus-usa-says-theyre-currently-...

UPDATE: Things are "business as usual" at Atlus.

Index, the parent company of Atlus, has announced that they are filing for bankruptcy.

While it's still too early to know exactly what's going to happen to Atlus, it does appear that Index is looking for a company to purchase it.

This is after recent news that Index has been under fire from authorities for "fabricated and inflated business practices," earlier this month.

Atlus has developed many franchises for Nintendo platforms including Trauma Center and Etrian Odyssey. Their most recent game, Shin Megami Tensei IV, is set to release next month on the 3DS. They have, among other things, been instrumental in bringing many Japanese RPGs to Western shores.

There has currently been no official word from Atlus, but we will update this story as new information is revealed.

UPDATE: Atlus has released a statement to Kotaku that their day-to-day operations are unaffected by the financial troubles of their parent company, Index.

They also told fans that Shin Megami Tensei IV will still release on time, and that things are still "business as usual."

Talkback

broodwarsJune 27, 2013

Nintendo purchasing Atlus would make perfect sense for Nintendo, given Atlus' pretty strong support of the 3DS and the decent working history the two companies have had. However, I just don't see Nintendo being a good fit for Atlus, given Atlus' history of creative risks and Nintendo's history of not taking risks. Plus, for the Atlus we know to be retained, whoever buys Atlus Japan would also have to purchase Atlus USA as well, and I don't see Nintendo buying what's essentially just a localization/distributor they don't need.  Also, Atlus on both sides of the ocean has a talent for appealing directly to their fanbase, whereas Nintendo has no ****ing idea how to market anything anymore. Nintendo would just be a poor fit for that company.

azekeJune 27, 2013

Quote from: broodwars

given Atlus' history of creative risks

That's why they are releasing Etrian Odyssey IV, SMT IV and have re-re-released Persona 4.

nothing against Atlus or their games

broodwarsJune 27, 2013

It's also worth noting that Atlus makes their money off targeted marketing of niche games with smaller and/or extremely limited print runs. Nintendo makes their money off large print runs of mass-market games. If Nintendo (or Sony and Square-Enix, for that matter) were to acquire Atlus, would they push Atlus to make mass-market games that they could make money off of large print runs? That's what troubles me about any large company picking up a company like Atlus.

If Nintendo were to buy Atlus, the best way to go about it would be to leave them largely autonomous. They could only develop for Nintendo hardware, but would be free of Nintendo micromanagement. Atlus USA's marketing team could be absorbed into the company and used for their games, or even for others as well.

I'm not sure Nintendo would be okay with that arrangement, but I think it would be in the best interests of both companies.

broodwarsJune 27, 2013

Quote from: NWR_insanolord

If Nintendo were to buy Atlus, the best way to go about it would be to leave them largely autonomous. They could only develop for Nintendo hardware, but would be free of Nintendo micromanagement. Atlus USA's marketing team could be absorbed into the company and used for their games, or even for others as well.

I'm not sure Nintendo would be okay with that arrangement, but I think it would be in the best interests of both companies.

Agreed. Buying Atlus but leaving them free to do their own thing would be in everyone's best interests. However, given Nintendo's history of micromanagement and tea table-flipping, I just don't trust Nintendo to do that.

The company that releases a lot of sequels to niche RPGs and scales the releases of those games to fit for those niche markets takes risks? Maybe like 10 years ago, but Atlus has been a well-oiled machine in recent years.

They do their occasionally weird funded projects like Zeno Clash, but mostly, they just make their niche RPGs for their niche markets. And they do very well for themselves (this entire bankruptcy thing is, as far as I know, more Index failing than Atlus failing).

I keep hearing people say Atlus takes risks, but their recent games have been sequels to established niche franchises, and they're safely adding new features to make all those games more accessible (and it's working. EOIV sold way better than previous EO games). Games like Catherine seem to be the exception not the rule.

CericJune 27, 2013

I think Atlus has a skill set that Nintendo really needs.  They need to be appealing to the Niche Crowd.  They really need to be the Niche machine.  That is a market Nintendo could carve out for itself.  The Monster Hunter Niche is a good start but if they could expand to the Atlus Niche, cool.  Then I would focus on a European or American derived Niche.  I think RTS would could work for Wii U but, I'm sure there is some others, like Rogue likes (think FTL).  Since Nintendo makes money for every box sold be the platform that has the games Niche players want.  Nintendo has their own properties to be the Million sellers.

Jasae BushaeJune 27, 2013

Umm...While Atlus has worked with Nintendo in the past, the company honestly has more history with Sony. That said though, I cannot quite see either company necessarily buying them up.

Yes Nintendo talked about wanting to expand upon their third parties but I doubt they would wish to invest and buy up another second party for them to play with. Especially since while Atlus dos have a bit of a history, their not really known for success after success. Frankly, their games have a bit of a niche audience which Nintendo might find to be a bit of a risk given how careful Nintendo tends to be about quality.

Personally, I would like to see Nippon Ichi buy up atlus. Nippon originated from people leaving Atlus and they have a good sense of what sells and the two companies have been on pretty good terms in recent years. (Atlus actually outsourced their european distribution rights to Nippon Ichi so that the creators of Disgaea could get thee Atlus games into Europe)
However...Im really not sure Nippon Ichi has the finances to manage such a thing.

Supposing that Nintendo did buy up Atlus, im not sure exactly what would happen since the only really notable nintendo exclusives I can think of are Trauma Center and that fire emblemXshin megami game in the works...
Still, if by some lucky break Nintendo did buy up all of Atlus stock lock and barrel, and were sensible enough to just let Atlus do its own thing, I could see it benifitting both companies. Nintendo has talked about wanting to broaden the appeal of Nintendo and Atlus is one of the big wigs in the strategy and rpg genres.

The real hurdle which I don't know enough to give a proper opinion on however, is that alot of Atlus's games are actually things they publish which are developed by other companies. I worry for Vanillaware, Sting Entertainment and Careersoft and wonder if they would continue to have games published by Atlus or if Nintendo would pick them up or whether they would just die out.

Atlus holds a large chunk of my favorite games and franchises under its belt and I dearly hope that it doesn't suffer the fate of Hudsonsoft. Bought up by a greedy company like Konami who are simply trying to weed out the competition by liquidizing the company and retiring all of the franchises that they picked up.

So may a bright future greet Atlus!

azekeJune 27, 2013

Quote from: Jasae

Umm...While Atlus has worked with Nintendo in the past, the company honestly has more history with Sony. That said though, I cannot quite see either company necessarily buying them up.

The overwhelming majority of Atlus games are released on Nintendo portables. That's how it was for many, many, many years now.

Jasae BushaeJune 27, 2013

Quote from: azeke

Quote from: Jasae

Umm...While Atlus has worked with Nintendo in the past, the company honestly has more history with Sony. That said though, I cannot quite see either company necessarily buying them up.

The overwhelming majority of Atlus games are released on Nintendo portables. That's how it was for many, many, many years now.

It depends on how you define recent.

3 nintendo 64
2 gamecube
9 wii
1 wii u (in the works)
36 gameboy advance
40 ds
6 3ds

66 playstation
54 ps2
8 ps3
24 psp
2 psvita

Totals-
97 nintendo
144 Playstation

Even if you were to ignore every other console but the very most recent, they have released nearly the same number of games on wii and ps3 and while there are twenty more titles on the DS/3ds over the PSP/psvita, that is still out of a 46 to 26 difference.

So while you can say its a majority, it only applies when factoring the most recent generations. Hardly 'many many years'

Luigi DudeJune 27, 2013

I like how some people say Nintendo would take away Atlus freedom but completely ignore that hasn't happened to Monolith Soft.  Hell, Monolith Soft is still allowed to work on some of their Namco series for fucks sake as long as they're on a Nintendo console.

Like Iwata said back in 2007, they bought Monolith Soft so they could make the kind of games Nintendo doesn't make.  If Nintendo was to buy Atlus it'd be for the same reasons as Monolith Soft, meaning they still be allowed to do their own thing because that's why Nintendo would buy them in the first place.

ejamerJune 27, 2013

Quote from: Luigi

... so they could make the kind of games Nintendo doesn't make.  ...

Agree that this would be the ideal scenario, if it were to happen. Letting Atlus just "do their thing" on Nintendo systems would be pretty cool - filling in some pretty notable gaps (RPG and strategy gaming). Not going to hold my breath though.


I wonder if being restricted to a single platform (Sony/Nintendo/MS) would hurt the profitability of their current publishing strategy? Going digital might help, but would mean losing out on the sweet Atlus special edition goodies.

OblivionJune 27, 2013

I would much rather have Sony buy them out. Nintendo would destroy them.

Luigi Dude's comparison to Nintendo purchasing Monolith Soft is a good example of Nintendo acquiring a very different company and largely leaving them alone. And I'd really love to see what Atlus could do with the Disaster: Day of Crisis franchise.

broodwarsJune 27, 2013

Quote from: NWR_insanolord

Luigi Dude's comparison to Nintendo purchasing Monolith Soft is a good example of Nintendo acquiring a very different company and largely leaving them alone. And I'd really love to see what Atlus could do with the Disaster: Day of Crisis franchise.

Disaster: Day of Crisis x Persona! MAKE THIS HAPPEN!  :P:

I was thinking MarvelousAQL would be a more likely acquirer.

Kytim89June 27, 2013

As long as Atlus remains friendly towards Nintendo then I am happy.

Quote from: MegaByte

I was thinking MarvelousAQL would be a more likely acquirer.

Would they be able to outbid the larger players, or are you suggesting that Nintendo/Sony/Square/whoever won't pursue it?

Square's a reasonable possibility since they could have interest in both games and their related anime (same as MarvelousAQL, but less niche). It didn't seem like Nintendo would have an interest -- Have they ever done an acquisition of a failing company? Usually, they just hire the employees away or just support a specific franchise. The Monolith Soft example isn't really relevant because the eventual acquisition was a collaborative and incremental process. Not sure about Sony; they have their own troubles.

broodwarsJune 27, 2013

Quote from: MegaByte

Square's a reasonable possibility since they could have interest in both games and their related anime (same as MarvelousAQL, but less niche). It didn't seem like Nintendo would have an interest -- Have they ever done an acquisition of a failing company? Usually, they just hire the employees away or just support a specific franchise. The Monolith Soft example isn't really relevant because the eventual acquisition was a collaborative and incremental process. Not sure about Sony; they have their own troubles.

Sony's already lost Monster Hunter and Dragon Quest, and Shin Megami Tensei has been good to the PlayStation brand. Sony will probably try to get Atlus just to keep Nintendo from getting them.

The worst case scenarios are if Square-Enix or Microsoft acquires them. Square-Enix would do to Atlus what they've done to every other company they've acquired: release a handful of games from their IPs, and then lock the franchises in a drawer, never to be seen again. And with Square-Enix's transition into the mobile space, at best that handful of games would be on iOS rather than handheld or console devices. As for Microsoft, they've been making stabs at getting into Japan for several console generations. It's unlikely, but they could purchase Atlus to establish a strong Japanese foothold for the Xbone.

AdrockJune 27, 2013

Microsoft already tried to get their foot in the door in Japan with Mistwalker. Lost Odyssey and Blue Dragon were pretty good attempts. They get some established IPs, but are they enough to convince Japanese gamers to care about Xbox. Ehh...

Quote from: MegaByte

Square's a reasonable possibility since they could have interest in both games and their related anime (same as MarvelousAQL, but less niche). It didn't seem like Nintendo would have an interest -- Have they ever done an acquisition of a failing company? Usually, they just hire the employees away or just support a specific franchise. The Monolith Soft example isn't really relevant because the eventual acquisition was a collaborative and incremental process. Not sure about Sony; they have their own troubles.

From the sounds of it, the parent company's failure didn't have anything to do with Atlus, so I wouldn't consider Atlus a failing company. This is kind of a unique opportunity, where a relatively well known, Japanese developer, who very much fills a niche Nintendo has historically been weak in, is explicitly up for sale, apparently through no fault of their own. I agree that this normally isn't Nintendo's kind of thing, but it seems like it might be enough of an exception and too appealing to them to pass up.

Kytim89June 27, 2013

Quote from: broodwars

Quote from: MegaByte

Square's a reasonable possibility since they could have interest in both games and their related anime (same as MarvelousAQL, but less niche). It didn't seem like Nintendo would have an interest -- Have they ever done an acquisition of a failing company? Usually, they just hire the employees away or just support a specific franchise. The Monolith Soft example isn't really relevant because the eventual acquisition was a collaborative and incremental process. Not sure about Sony; they have their own troubles.

Sony's already lost Monster Hunter and Dragon Quest, and Shin Megami Tensei has been good to the PlayStation brand. Sony will probably try to get Atlus just to keep Nintendo from getting them.

The worst case scenarios are if Square-Enix or Microsoft acquires them. Square-Enix would do to Atlus what they've done to every other company they've acquired: release a handful of games from their IPs, and then lock the franchises in a drawer, never to be seen again. And with Square-Enix's transition into the mobile space, at best that handful of games would be on iOS rather than handheld or console devices. As for Microsoft, they've been making stabs at getting into Japan for several console generations. It's unlikely, but they could purchase Atlus to establish a strong Japanese foothold for the Xbone.

What's to stop the gamers of Japan from turning their back on Atlus if Microsoft were to buy them?

broodwarsJune 27, 2013

Quote from: Kytim89

Quote from: broodwars

Quote from: MegaByte

Square's a reasonable possibility since they could have interest in both games and their related anime (same as MarvelousAQL, but less niche). It didn't seem like Nintendo would have an interest -- Have they ever done an acquisition of a failing company? Usually, they just hire the employees away or just support a specific franchise. The Monolith Soft example isn't really relevant because the eventual acquisition was a collaborative and incremental process. Not sure about Sony; they have their own troubles.

Sony's already lost Monster Hunter and Dragon Quest, and Shin Megami Tensei has been good to the PlayStation brand. Sony will probably try to get Atlus just to keep Nintendo from getting them.

The worst case scenarios are if Square-Enix or Microsoft acquires them. Square-Enix would do to Atlus what they've done to every other company they've acquired: release a handful of games from their IPs, and then lock the franchises in a drawer, never to be seen again. And with Square-Enix's transition into the mobile space, at best that handful of games would be on iOS rather than handheld or console devices. As for Microsoft, they've been making stabs at getting into Japan for several console generations. It's unlikely, but they could purchase Atlus to establish a strong Japanese foothold for the Xbone.

What's to stop the gamers of Japan from turning their back on Atlus if Microsoft were to buy them?

Absolutely nothing, but Atlus is one of the big 3 producers of RPGs in Japan, one of the most (if not THE most) popular gaming genre in that country. It would be highly unlikely that Japan would just boycott Atlus games from that point forward. Just see what happened when Microsoft paid for Blue Dragon, Tales of Vesperia, and Lost Odyssey on the 360. While Vesperia at least did not remain exclusive, those games were 360 system sellers for a very short time. Microsoft only paid for a handful of games, so when that was up the companies went back to making PS3 games, but I'd imagine Microsoft theoretically could have had  fairly stable presence there if they had kept paying for the exclusives. It just wasn't worth the money Microsoft was showering on Square-Enix and Mistwalker.

I honestly don't think Microsoft cares about Japan at this point. Steve Ballmer may be an idiot (he is) but he seems to get that the only reason MS could have any serious interest in the country is if they simply wanted to prove that a Western company could have real success there. In terms of money, they'd have to spend nearly as much on exclusive games as they'd end up making off it.

Evan_BJune 27, 2013

I doubt Sony will bite on this one- the company has enough financial woes as it is, bidding against others just seems like a risky move.

That being said, I think that Nintendo needs, NEEDS a strong JRPG presence on their consoles to compete with the other two on any level and regain some semblance of the "core", even if Atlus has always been a bit niche. The 3DS has seen success in supporting Atlus titles (in fact, I believe the system got SMTIV because of its hardware limitations, perhaps an attempt to evoke the series' last mainline installment from what, ten years ago?, and the SMTxFE crossover is another key sign- I'm sure that deal was made with this eventual act in mind.

There's a possibility that GungHo, who makes enough money in a month off Puzzle and Dragons to buy Atlus, could make a bid... though I wonder if that would take out Atlus USA in the process.

SarailJune 28, 2013

I've said this on for those of you NWR friends who follow me on there, but for those that don't...

Nintendo NEED to buy Atlus. With every fibre of their being, they should be approaching a buyout of that company. As others have stated, Nintendo need a stronger "core" presence, and having Atlus on-board would definitely fill any niche-type games the core gamer crowd so heavily demands.

Do it, Nintendo. I dare you.

Kytim89June 28, 2013

I do not see Nintendo biting for 250 million for Atlus. However, considering that the Atlus portion of the company is profitable I could see Nintendo buying them for a smaller fee and let the mother use that cut to pay off some of its debts. How much do you think Nintendo would pay for Atlus?

AdrockJune 28, 2013

Acquiring Atlus would only really help Nintendo in Japan which is the territory they care most about. However, Nintendo does well in Japan with their own IPs so this would only really pad their performance there rather than make any sweeping changes. Nintendo would be picking up Atlus so their competitors couldn't which isn't something Nintendo does and probably isn't worth trouble.

Nintendo doesn't need to buy another company to fill holes in their lineup. They can do that themselves. Nintendo can hire the people and fund the development of new IPs in genres they don't currently have a foot in. They can use their own teams. They really just don't want to. Nintendo could have just made Retro Studios develop a new IP and the team down in Texas would have to. I believe Retro Studios chose to make a new Donkey Kong instead and Nintendo obliged. Retro Studios has gained a reputation where anything they touch turns to gold as far as Nintendo fans are concerned so I get the impression Nintendo just lets them do what they want since they're confident whatever Retro Studios makes will sell reasonably well.

Think of all the talented designers who have left their companies. Nintendo could have stepped in and made an offer. "Tell us what you need." Maybe that happened and the offer was refused. You'd think at one point someone would take it though. With that in mind, I don't think it's ever happened. I wish Nintendo was more proactive. It's just not something they seem interested in doing themselves, even through an acquisition.

Jasae BushaeJune 28, 2013

Im a tad confused why people think this would fill a niche for Nintendo. ^^; Looking at it from the Nintendo side of things, they have Fire Emblem and Advance wars. Paper Mario and Golden Sun. Since we are not talking about convincing a 3rd party to work exclusivly on a console and instead are toying with the idea of Nintendo buying up a 2nd party to make games exclusivly on their console, we need to consider whether Nintendo wants to invest its own money in something they are already making a fair amount of return on. Heck, from comments made in Nintendo and given the approach's they take with their current 2nd parties, they might be known for being hands off and not giving pressure but they seem more for tried and true yet working with new ideas which is slightly different from Atlus's approach.

One thing  I don't really understand that I am hoping someone can clarify regarding, is what would happen to Atlus's second parties and the smaller developers who rely on Atlus as an exclusive publisher.  While Atlus USA's fate is up in the air, I don't have any idea how those smaller surrounding properties would fare regardless of who purchases them. Like Vanillaware who did Odin Sphere and Dragon Crown.

If they made a Radiant Historia sequel, I think they'd save the company and/or world. Just my two cents.

Jasae BushaeJune 28, 2013

Oh and one thing I just thought of.
It isn't like Nintendo doesn't already have a number of franchises in these genres. They are sitting on Earthbound, not doing anything with it just yet. They have new franchises like Pushmo and Harmoknight to play with. They have numerous franchises new and filling niche's and old franchises gathering dust and just waiting for Nintendo to find the time and money to get around to working on them.

Would Nintendo really want to buy up Atlus just for the franchises it would add? Because it seems like they have quite alot already.

AdrockJune 28, 2013

Nintendo is sitting on Earthbound because Shigesato Itoi doesn't want to make any more Mother games.

If Atlus is profitable, it might just get spun off--its stock sold to various investors or a holding company.

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