Step it up, senpai!
In recent news, Index Corporation has gone bankrupt and Sega has acquired its subsidiary ATLUS for 14 billion yen. What will this mean for the developers of the hit Megami Tensei series and other cult classic series? What’s going to happen to all the A+ games?
Atlus’s president Naoto Hiraoka says he apologizes for any worry concerning the future of the developer, and aptly so with Shin Megami Tensei IV being a hit, Etrian Odyssey getting another hit sequel, and the SMT: Persona spin-offs causing internet wildfires of fandom. The acquisition under Sega could be a very good opportunity for the company.
Atlus was always a smaller niche company, always having a cult-ish take to their games and what developers they pick to publish for. They started small with just MegaTen, a few other games, and purikura booths. Few of the early games ever made it to the US, but thanks to translations by fans, games like Shin Megami Tensei made it into overseas fans’ hands.
As time went on, Atlus picked smart calls on what to publish. NIS let Atlus publish the first Disgaea game which proceeded to become a total hit overseas. The Atlus mentality was not quite for the straight-up mainstream or the moeblob pandering of Idea Factory or Compile Heart, but rather it was for the more obscure deeper games like Sting’s Dept. Heaven series. By playing the cult-classic angle, Atlus gained its faithful so to speak. Since at the time Atlus was not swinging big with the likes of other major publishers, they listened more and more to their fans. Translations got more solid and plenty of goodies were lavished on pre-orders. Piece by piece Atlus had their core fans; fans who trust the Atlus name for dark horse games that are hidden gems.
A lot of seed planting later, Atlus gained even more ground and started expanding to the big leagues. Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 had an interesting connection. For many fans, the streamlined gameplay, stylish aesthetic, and targeting of young adults made a “gateway drug” into the house of Atlus. Now since Atlus fans greatly trust the brand, more of these new fans were guided into naming Atlus as a brand you can trust. As the Persona machine made more money with anime, films, and even a live-stage show, Atlus could publish and develop more and more, allowing many projects to be put into the limelight, and the newest SMT is clear evidence where before it would be just a niche title.
Now that Sega has Atlus, Atlus can really push itself to the forefront using the more extensive resources Sega has. By ad hoc’ing onto Sega, Atlus has access to lavish their fans even more and take the cult-classic name to the major airways. Yes, losing Index was a pity and it caused lots of worry, but it’s time to shine for both companies. I’m sure given the kind of relationship Atlus has, they would retain a lot of their autonomy as a developer. So long as Atlus can do their thing, the connections and the assets Sega brings to the table gives big-name publisher power to the “small business” style publisher, the best of both worlds. I can’t wait for Persona 5 to get back on track and for other hit games on their lineup. Join me next time when I make curry.
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