ATLUS: Who Is the Best Bidder Gamers Should Root For?

With Atlus’ mother company Index corporation reportedly starting the auction of its assets in the coming week, speculation is running wild on who should buy the the house of Persona. But who should gamers really root for in order to ensure the best continuity for the Atlus brand in the video game industry and the preservation of its design culture?

Let’s start with who they should not root for:

The most widespread speculation brings up the names of Nintendo and Sony. That’s an easy guess, but that’s also little more than wishful thinking based on personal brand loyalty. Fans of this or that hardware manufacturer always want their beloved consoles to get more exclusives, and the easiest way to achieve that is by the acquisition of more development studios. While that may be a good thing for the brand that does the acquisition and for its less rational fans, it often isn’t a good thing for the brand being purchased and for gamers as a whole.

Nintendo is definitely the least fitting choice. Its development culture and philosophy simply aren’t appropriate to house a developer like Atlus. The historical hardware manufacturer from Kyoto has always been set in its family friendly ways, while Atlus most often includes very controversial, mature and darker themes that would struggle to find a place within Nintendo’s policies.

Nintendo does publish a few games aimed at a mature audience, but those aren’t developed by studios wholly owned by the company, while Monolith Soft dropped a sizable portion of its darkest and most mature themes after the acquisition by the house of Mario and Zelda.

It’s pretty much inevitable that when a company is fully acquired by another, it will at least partly adapt its own policies and development culture and themes to those of the new owner, and the last thing gamers should wish for is a more family friendly, edulcorated Atlus. You really can’t expect a game like Catherine from a Nintendo first party studio.


Sony would probably be a better fit for themes and development culture, but Atlus has a strong multiplatform background, deeply rooted on positioning games perfectly on the machines that best fit them, and being wholly owned by a first party would prevent the studio from exploiting that luxury.

Ultimately, though, if you look at every corporate initiative by Sony and Nintendo in the recent past, both companies seem very focused on saving money, not on spending more to acquire what’s in the end a rather niche developer. The commercial impact of such an acquisition for a first party like Sony or Nintendo is mostly overestimated by gamers that love Atlus’ games or by writers fishing for hits for their websites, as Atlus isn’t exactly a ten ton gorilla in the industry and its games wouldn’t bolster anyone’s first party line-up as radically as some think.

Despite what many seem to naively feel (or write), Atlus’ games aren’t system sellers and having them as exclusives wouldn’t really create any breakthrough either for the PS3/PS Vita team or the Wii U/3DS team. In light of this and of both Sony’s and Nintendo’s recent conservative approach to spending, a solid first party bid for the company is simply unlikely.

We also have to consider the fact that the Civil Rehabilitation process Index Corporation is going through doesn’t work (as many westerners erroneously think) like Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in the United States. There’s no forced auction involved, and the company retains the control on who to sell its assets to. Considering that Atlus already reassured its customers on the fact that the brand  will continue business and support of released and upcoming  games as usual, it’s most likely that Index will select a purchaser that will guarantee  the preservation of Atlus’ development culture and of the company’s multiplatform nature.

There’s also another relevant element that those who root for this or that first party tend to forget: a first party acquisition of Atlus would probably kill off Atlus USA. Both Nintendo and Sony have their own established publishing structures in the west, and have been looking into consolidating and trimming the fat from those divisions. It’s unlikely that they’d be willing to absorb Atlus USA’s smaller publishing structure, and the company would either get sold off separately or closed.


Even if Atlus USA were to be sold off separately, it would lose its strongest asset (Atlus’ games), finding itself in a radically weakened condition in a market that is already unforgiving. Considering how active the company is in localizing and publishing smaller games that would otherwise struggle to find a publisher in the west, western gamers on all platforms have everything to lose from its untimely death or crippling due to a first party acquisition of Atlus.

Becoming a first party studio would also cause Atlus Japan itself to cease its activities as a publisher, leaving several smaller Japanese studios suddenly stranded.

So who should gamers root for in the light of a possible bid for Atlus? Meet Kadokawa Games.

Kadokawa Games is an emerging force in the Japanese video game industry, and has made headlines lately for publishing Grasshopper Manufacture’s Lollipop Chainsaw and Killer is Dead. While they’ve been active for a while, only lately they’ve started to really push the envelope in game publishing and expand very aggressively in the market with high profile titles.

Kadokawa Games’ strongest asset is of course the fact that they’re part of the publishing giant Kadokawa Group, a corporation that, as opposed to Sony and Nintendo, has an extremely solid financial standing despite the current weak economy, and is in the perfect position to further invest to expand its presence in the industry.

Killer is Dead (9)

If we look at the games they published, ranging from Killer is Dead to Demon Gaze to the PS Vita versions of the latest The Legend of Heroes titles, we can easily see that they have no qualms with mature themes and even that little bit of fanservice that is deeply rooted in Atlus’ design culture. As a matter of fact, they seem to be almost perfectly aligned with Atlus’ themes.

The company has made a point not only to grant full creative freedom to its partners, but endorsed and supported such freedom very actively, and extremely peculiar games like Killer is Dead are the perfect example of that philosophy. That’s the perfect position in which a studio with a strong creative flair like Atlus can thrive.

Kadokawa is also in an advantageous position to leverage the credit it has with Index Corporation. Atlus’ Mother company owns Enterbrain and ASCII Corporation (that are both Kadokawa’s subsidiaries) a total of 37 million yen (about $370,000), making Kadokawa the second most relevant creditor within the entertainment industry in the bankruptcy case, behind the animation studio Production IG.

It wouldn’t even be the first time for Kadokawa and Atlus to team up. Back in the early 2000s, before the acquisition of Atlus by Takara, the two companies partnered in a publishing alliance that brought us games like the first Shin Megami Tensei, sealed by the acquisition of 1,231,800 Atlus shares by Kadokawa.

Atlus’ brand and games would benefit massively from being owned by Kadokawa games. Not only Kadokawa would facilitate the conversion into manga and anime series of Atlus’ intellectual properties, contributing to their mainstream visibility, but their extensive partnerships with animation studios would help a lot with the production of Atlus games, that rely on anime cutscenes quite heavily.

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Kadokawa games has also been looking into expanding to the west, and purchasing Atlus USA alongside its Japanese brand would not only give them the base upon which to build a solid Western publishing structure, but would probably also lead to an expansion and strengthening of Atlus USA itself, which is a much more desirable outcome than what would most probably happen if Atlus was to be acquired by a first party.

Ultimately gamers that love the Atlus brand and titles like Persona and Catherine, not to mention all those smaller titles that Atlus publishes, have every reason to root for an acquisition by Kadokawa games. Kadokawa is in the perfect position to purchase both Atlus’ development and the publishing structure, it has the means and the motive to do so, and  the two companies share a common past.

Such an operation would also guarantee Atlus’ independence from particular platforms and in its freedom to pursue the themes that have built the brand up to the recognition it has now. In addition to that it would also preserve the current partnerships with smaller developers that are bringing us lovely games like Dragon’s Crown. 

If Kadokawa Games is interested in acquiring Atlus, we’re probably going to know quite soon. The next earnings release from the Kadokawa group is scheduled for Thursday, July the 25th. That’d be the perfect time to make an announcement on this topic.

Join the Discussion

  • JerkDaNERD7

    And me name is Frobisher!

  • Thomas Crane

    Square Enix is probably the best suitor in terms of size and resources. They could publish games on different platforms as Index is doing now. Although it would be something if SCEA nabbed Index Corp. That would make all games Playstation and Vita exclusives. If Nippon Ichi grabbed them, that’d be fine too.

    • Giuseppe Nelva

      Square already has its own publishing structure, so there would be a lot of redundancy and a damage for gamers that would lose the games published in the west by Atlus USA, same if Sony would do the purchase.

      Appreciating a purchase just because it’d make the games platform exclusive isn’t exactly the best motive.

  • Panda83

    Honestly, I hope it gets picked up by a third party company. I like the fact that Atlus releases games for just about everyone. The DS/3DS (Radiant Historia, Devil Survivor 1 & 2, etc) Atlus games have been top notch for years, and the PS1/PS2 (Persona, Nocturne) games have been amazing as well. I don’t want to see that end.

    • Panda83

      The whole situation with Operation Rainfall left me with a bad taste in my mouth when it comes to Nintendo releasing serious RPGs here in the U.S. Sure, they released them, but it took so much fan petitioning for them to do it. I don’t feel like going through that every time I want an Atlus game to be released on the Wii U.

  • heavenshitman1

    Another article I read prior to this advocated Nintendo as being the winning bidder as a virtual done deal. Nintendo has given Atlus a massive franchise crossover with a major IP. If Atlus were bought by someone else, Nintendo and Atlus could lose a massive title in the works.
    Not that Im overly familiar with Atlus’ software, but this article seems to assume their games can only be good sporting sexual themes and mature ratings.
    Fairly narrow minded perception of what makes games good, fun, or even successful

    • Giuseppe Nelva

      That article was selling nothing else than personal speculation and wishful thinking as fact, with absolutely no backing and an extremely misleading headline that made it indeed (disingenuously) look like it was a virtual done deal. And it isn’t. There’s no concrete sign of an ongoing acquisition by Nintendo.

      It seems you have been misled as well, and it’s a pity.

      If Atlus was bought by any independent third party Nintendo and Atlus would lose nothing, as Atlus would still be free to develop for whoever they wanted, including Nintendo, like they have been doing up until now, which is exactly what this article advocates (without trying to mislead the reader in believing that there’s any “done deal” , because there isn’t).

      Nowhere in this article is assumed that their games can “Only be good” sporting sexual themes or mature ratings, but mature and dark themes are part of Atlus’ DNA and development culture, and being purchased by a company that doesn’t work well with those themes would be damaging for their unique style. Creative freedom is paramount, and important for the variety in the market.

      Bottomline, you should beware of articles that try to sell you wishful thinking and personal speculation as a done deal, like the one you read.

      • heavenshitman1

        I only briefed fairly quickly over this article here because I was on the phone and tight for time on a work break. It seemed to focus a fair point that Sony or Nintendo shouldn’t buy up because they’ll interfere with their traditional game style, being darker , what not themes, and possibly change that direction. Which may or may not be the case if they did own Atlus, but the journo appeared to make that a deep point of concern, almost as if to suggest that it will cripple their game quality or popularity.

        As far as Nintendo buying up Atlus, well, if Atlus is owned outright or by the larger margain by anyone else, that owner would reserve the right to tell Atlus what to do if they wanted wouldn’t it? Or at least persuade them. Putting a certain degree of risk to a game probably costing millions of dollars at least on Nintendo’s behalf due to wasted dev n programming time because of the franchise crossover. Especially if that owner was Sony, Microsoft or anyone else making some kind of competing system, Apple, Ouya founders, NVidia and their Shield etc..,
        I didn’t read this other particular article thinking dead on in the end Nintendo will do it. But they seemed to make a reasonable case about it. It’s not just the Fire Emblem crossover, I’m not up to date in the 3DS world, but accordingly Atlus has done a lot of software for Nintendo systems in recent years including exclusives like the Trauma Center games etc..
        Just an oddly close relationship

        • Giuseppe Nelva

          Atlus has a close relationship with every Japanese console manufacturer, and they have done and do a lot of software for pretty much everyone. That’s because being a third party developer *and publisher* is one of their strengths. It allows them to work with everyone they desire, and to publish games from smaller devs like vanillaware and many others. If they were bought by a first party like Nintendo or Sony their whole publishing structure would go completely lost, and considering that they invested considerable amounts of money and resources in it, that’s very unlikely.

          You don’t seem to be very privy on how the relationship between first parties and third parties works. If the buyer is a third party (like Kadokawa), it means they don’t make any kind of competing system, and they don’t have any reason to stop Atlus from making any game, including the SMTxFire Emblem game. Resources have been already invested in it, and contracts have already been signed. Contracts aren’t made null and void by acquisition, and it’ll be the buyer’s best interest to make sure that Atlus fulfills any contract they have already in place.

          As for the lack of darker themes crippling their game quality or popularity, that’s not the issue. The issue is that Atlus has it’s own very peculiar style, and having that style bent by the policies of a first party would place a restriction on their creativity, therefore removing an instance of variety in the market. Style and quality are two different things, but preserving a company’s own style and creativity is just as important.

          • heavenshitman1

            All fair enough.
            On the initial topic. Did just read another article just now also pointing out that Atlus is already in debt to Nintendo by some odd 15 mil yen. making the notion of Nintendo a possible buyer even more plausible. Quick way to settle the debt. Although Atlus does have larger creditors elsewhere.

  • Learii

    I pray for sony

    • MyBodyIsReady

      Me too. Fingers crossed

  • Nintendo.

    – Started on NES
    – Index Co. Owes Nintendo Money
    – Atlus and Nintendo are collaborating with SMT x FE
    – Atlus SMTIV getting a special deal with Nintendo FE: Awakening
    There has been more Exclusives Atlus Games on Nintendo such as
    Etrian Odyssey, Trauma, Most Recent SMT games such as Devil Summoner, Suvivor,
    IV and Soul Hackers, Radiant Historia, Code of Princess, Trauma Team and the list goes on.
    You sony fans aren’t thinking about what is recently happening.
    Nintendo has more money than PlayStation Division can spend and save.
    vs Sony
    Persona games
    exclusive wise recently

    • Giuseppe Nelva

      Lol at “you Sony fans”. That pretty much identifies you as a nintendo fanboy, considering that this article doesn’t advocate Sony buying Atlus. As a matter of fact it advocates that Sony should *not* buying Atlus.

      – Index owes Kadokawa quite a lot more money than it owes Nintendo. Actually the sum Index owes Nintendo is paltry.

      – Where they started is inconsequential. Almost everyone started on the NES.

      – Atlus collaborates with a whole lot of people.

      – You don’t even know what games are from Atlus and what aren’t. Code of Princess is a game by Agatsuma, it was just puvblished in the west by Atlus USA, but it has otherwise nothing to do with Atlus.

      Kadokawa has and can spend a lot more money than Nintendo does.

      • I own all system. Yes I am Nintendo fan. What the big deal.

        • Giuseppe Nelva

          Because this post has wery to do with Sony, and you bringing them up shows that your standpoint isn’t entirely rational.

          Iif you knew that Code of Princess is not developed by Atlus, you wouldn’t count it between their Nintendo exclusives, since it isn’t theirs.

          • Published by Atlus though
            just not developed by them

            Also there people in this comment saying Sony should do it.

          • Giuseppe Nelva

            Games published by atlus don’t feature in the equation at all. As a matter of fact if Nintendo or Sony would buy Atlus, Atlus USA would die alongside Atlus’ whole publishing structure, because Nintendo and Sony have theirs already. We’d get a lot less smaller Japanese games in the west.

          • Not entirely.
            Nintendo will publish their games.
            All of their upcoming games both Wii U and 3DS are coming worldwide.

            Nintendo systems have more Japanese Product than they do Western while for Sony it quite more Western now.

            Looking at the PS4 launch window.
            Looking at PS Vita in Japan is more Japanese and less western and doing good over there.

            But in the west it not.

            Nintendo buying Atlus would benefit them.
            Even if Nintendo can’t published their games in the US they will just have XSEED do it for Atlus. Like they had XSEED do The Last Story and Pandora’s Tower for them while gearing up Wii U Launch.

            Nintendo and Atlus latest deals and partnership.
            Including Atlus most recents games are 3DS games.

            Atlus being with Nintendo is the most reasonable. Best for them. Why it may not be best for PlayStation Fans but still it not what we Nintendo Fans or PlayStation Fans want. It what best for Atlus to sruvive and remain in gaming. Sony wouldn’t cut it.

            They just got out of a five year loss from 2006-2011 and just pulled a profit in 2012 after selling one of their buildings for 1.2B, closing 3 studios, laying off 10,000 employees and barely made profit from theirs. Journey is probably what gave the a lot money and PSN.

            Nintendo on the others had pulled back in profit a lot quicker.
            I am not thinking Nintendo should buy Atlus to benefit me a gamer. I taking it as a way to keep Atlus afloat which they can with Nintendo because their games won’t get overshadowed by Western games as for being owned by Sony.

            This is my last comment.

          • Giuseppe Nelva

            I’m sorry, but you seem to be pretty clueless. Actually, very clueless.

            If Nintendo or Sony bought Atlus, Atlus USA would go the way of the dodo. This means that we’d get a lot less small games from OTHER developers, that Atlus USA publishes. Xseed can’t publish them all, because their resources are limited.

            Nintendo is not in any way the “best” for Atlus to survive and remain in gaming, as being exclusive to one brand would only serve the purpose to marginalize their games further.The less platforms they can be on, the less their units they will sell. It’s a pretty iron-clad equation.

            You continue talking a lot about Sony, but you seem to continue to ignore that Sony isn’t the issue here (probably you’re too stuck in your console war attitude to understand).

            The best option for Atlus is to be acquired by a third party company with solid finances (much more Solid than Nintendo’s or Sony’s) like Kadokawa, that will allow them to continue publishing their games on whatever consoles they want, reaching more gamers and keeping their design culture, creative freedom and themes intact.

            But it’s pretty obvious that you aren’t advocating Atlus acquisition by Nintendo for Atlus’ sake, but for Nintendo’s sake. This is the difference between a true gamer that cares for the well being of a developer, and a fanboy that cares for the well being of a console brand.

            It’s quite a sad read.

  • theodor70941

    Kadokawa should buy them and if they don’t then I hope that Sony buy them!

  • Robbyfishersora

    Kadokawa seem like a better than fit than nintendo or sony.

  • Nicholas Perry

    I’m just going to say Marvelous AQL. Because they own XSEED too and having Atlus and XSEED combined would be amazing

  • seiya19

    The idea that Atlus games are incompatible with Nintendo’s direction is completely unfunded. The fact that Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem exists should already be enough proof of the opposite, but there’s also the fact that Nintendo has been already publishing some Atlus-developed games in PAL areas in recent years, such as the original Etrian Odyssey, every Trauma Center game released in those regions, and recently Shin Megami Tensei IV, also available in Korea through them.

    And as the article itself acknowledges, Nintendo has funded several “mature” games in recent years such as Pandora’s Tower, Zangeki no Reginleiv, the Zero/Fatal Frame games and the upcoming Bayonetta 2, as well as publishing 3rd party games in some regions like Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge and Dead or Alive Dimensions. Whether these games were created by external developers or not is irrelevant in this context, as funding the game from the start, overseeing its development, marketing them and allowing the use of your brand to present them is more than enough proof of the fact that you’re fine with them.

    There’s also no evidence of Monolith Soft games being limited by them in any way. Actually, everything we’ve heard from Monolith regarding their relationship with Nintendo has been positive so far, and I really doubt that Tetsuya Takahashi would just tolerate negative meddling when he ended up leaving Squaresoft and creating Monolith Soft to get the creative freedom he wanted as a developer in the first place.

    As far as Kadokawa goes, I know little of them as a publisher, but I find it hard to believe that they could offer as much resources in this area as Nintendo, given how they’re not fully dedicated to gaming as Nintendo is, nor do they have even half of their experience. And I know at least that I’m still waiting for them to release Rodea: The Sky Soldier, which according to Yuji Naka was already finished for Wii in 2011…

    • Giuseppe Nelva

      The fact that they can collaborate for *one* game doesn’t make their whole development cultures compatible.

      Publishing the games of a company is a whole different cup of tea than *owning* a company. There has never been a game like for instance catherine developed by a Nintendo first party, and you can pretty much bet that there will never be one. It’s radically opposed to Nintendo’s development culture and themes.

      When a developers gets acquired by another company, it’s inevitable that it partly adapts to its culture and development philosophy. Monolithsoft did. It’s part of the natural process following an acquisition.

      And Kadokawa is one of the biggest and most solid companies in Japan. It can run circles around Nintendo financially.

      • seiya19

        I don’t understand how you can dismiss factual evidence with pure speculation… We know that Nintendo can work with Atlus at a development level because they are, right now. One game is enough, as it shows how Atlus themselves are fine with it. And we know that Nintendo is willing to put their name and money behind said games, because they have done that too. And again, Atlus is fine with that too !

        If Nintendo’s “family-friendly” image were an obstacle for creating M-rated games as you claim, then why is Nintendo fine with using their name in those kind of games as a publisher ? As far as the general market is concerned, any game that has Nintendo as a publisher is a “Nintendo game”. Most people out there are not aware of the differences between 1st Party/2nd Party games and which developers or IPs are owned by who, so Nintendo’s image in the market is just as much affected by those games as they are by their own IPs.

        You keep bringing up Catherine as some sort of “proof” that Nintendo could never publish that, and yet, there’s no evidence of it, just speculation. You could’ve said the same for Killer Instinct, Eternal Darkness, Geist, Conker’s Bad Fur Day or Bayonetta, yet those still happened. Besides, I don’t see how it makes sense to use Catherine as the most representative of Atlus games, yet ignore the fact that Nintendo is publishing 2 Shin Megami Tensei games… If there’s one IP that represents Atlus as a whole, is Megami Tensei. That’s their flagship franchise. The one that represents their whole gaming history, and the one that spawned Persona and many other spinoffs. In comparison, Catherine is more the exception than the rule.

        As far as Monolith Soft and Kadokawa goes, I don’t think you addressed my points… Yes, Monolith Soft probably had to adapt to Nintendo, just like any other developer incorporated to a publisher. We still don’t have any evidence of any “self-censorship” having ocurr though, which is something you seem to imply in your article. And what do we know about Kadokawa Games here exactly ? Who knows, maybe they could end up doing the “opposite” of what you argue Nintendo would, making Atlus limit themselves to pander to the “otaku” audience and no one else. This, of course, is also pure speculation, but it’s just as valid as yours, as it’s also based on their general output as a publisher.

        Regarding Kadokawa’s resources, you’re refering to Kadokawa as a whole, and not just Kadokawa Games. Just because they have the money doesn’t mean that they’re willing to use it all in this new venture, while Nintendo’s resources are fully dedicated to videogames. And Nintendo still has the edge in the gaming area by far in terms of experience and know-how, as well as having an entire global structure for them in place, while, as far as I know, Kadokawa resources are fully focused on Asia. I see far more uncertainties on Kadokawa’s side for Atlus future than with Nintendo because of all this.

        • Giuseppe Nelva

          You should ask yourself “what do I know about Kadokawa games exactly?” and then do some research. Giving developers that work with them maximum creative freedom is between their tenets and part of their philosophy, not only as a game publisher but in the whole business as Kadokawa.

          Atlus doesn’t need nintendo’s “know how”, it has its own. And Kadokawa has already expressed the interest to aggressively expand in the west, which would make them the perfect pairing for Atlus USA as well.

          You continue to put games simply published by Nintendo in the same cauldron as games made by Nintendo first party companies. It’s not the same thing.

          None of the games you mentioned was an IP owned by Nintendo made by a Nintendo first party developer, therefore they have no place in this discussion. Second and third party developers aren’t normally required to adapt to a first party’s theme and design philosophy. First party developers do.

          I never said that Catherine is the most representative game of Atlus’ production, but it definitely represents what they can do, and it’s pretty much safe to assume that nothing like that would be allowed under Nintendo’s first party flag.

          A publisher that would allow Atlus to do even games like Catherine is most certainly preferable to one that wouldn’t (unless one’s a fanboy that just wants more exclusives for his favorite brand of course, but in that case he’s not looking for what’s good for Atlus, but just what’s good for Nintendo), and you need to be pretty detached from reality to think or even hope that Nintendo would not place any limit on Atlus’ more adult oriented themes.

          I don’t dismiss “factual evidence”, because there’s none. The fact that Atlus can collaborate with Nintendo for one title (like they did with plenty other companies) is in no way evidence that they’d thrive as a first party studio.

          I suggest doing some research. To be honest I find quite sad to see people that would very gladly see Atlus have to adapt to a development culture that isn’t theirs and Atlus USA go the way of the dodo in the name of their Nintendo brand loyalty. It’s quite shameful, but that’s what you can expect from those that care more about the console brand that about the single developers.

          • seiya19

            I have an idea of who Kadokawa is as a publisher in manga and films, but I don’t recall hearing anything specific from them as a game publisher, despite the fact that I usually follow game news from Japan closely. I’m aware of their lineup, which mostly consists of games directed at the “otaku” audience (not that there’s anything wrong with it, per se), such as VNs and licensed games, with a few bigger projects such as Lollipop Chainsaw, Metal Max, some Falcom games, and Killer is Dead (and poor Rodea…). Perhaps I should look more into them, but I don’t think there’s much specific info from them as a publisher in relationship with game developers… Care to point me in the right direction ?

            Regarding Nintendo published games (2nd party games), I keep putting them in the same “bag” because as far as Nintendo’s image goes in the market, they are. Most of your argument is rooted on the idea that Nintendo is a “family-friendly” company, therefore being unwilling to create games with certain “mature” themes, which is easily proven false by their history. Just because their focus is on these “family-friendly” games doesn’t mean that they’re unwilling to expand to other types of games, just like they’ve done many times before. Their gaming philosophy has always being inclusive, not exclusive. That’s why they have no problem supporting other types of games other than their own, whether it’s with their own developers like Rare was, collaborations like Pandora’s Tower, or 3rd party games like Shin Megami Tensei IV.

            On a related note, I don’t see the logic behind refering to these externally-developed games by Nintendo (Pandora’s Tower, Zangeki no Reginleiv, Sin and Punishment, etc) as irrelevant in the context of judging their output, when all game publishers regularly engage in this practice. Given how Kadokawa Games doesn’t own Grasshopper Manufacture, Falcom, or Crafts and Meister, should we also exclude Lollipop Chainsaw, Earth Seeker, The Legend of Heroes games, and Killer is Dead in this context ? Seems to me that there’s a clear double-standard here… In fact, how many of Kadokawa Games were developed by internal developers ? What makes Killer is Dead relevant here, but not Pandora’s Tower ?

            Anyway… I remain convinced that Nintendo would be an excellent partner for Atlus, providing them with the stability and support they require to shine. Their full commitment to gaming and resources in this area proves this to me, specially compared to how most big publishers these days treat developers… Unlike most, they don’t close down developers studios when their games fail to sell, and you know they’re here for the long run, as they always have. If recognizing this makes me sound like a “fanboy”, so be it. The arguments are there for anyone to judge by themselves.

          • Giuseppe Nelva

            Rare wasn’t a first party developer, nor is Gambarion. They both are or were second party developers.

            You continue to completely ignore the difference, and that’s a major flaw in your reasoning, as the difference between first party and second party is as big as the difference between owning something and handling something owned by someone else.

            You’re right in the fact that Kadokawa doesn’t own Killer is Dead, but Kadokawa has a much larger history even with their own internal titles, which is rooted in their manga publishing.

            They own magazines that go from the family oriented/friendly to the plain smut, and have worked with any kind of content and themes giving maximum freedom to their mangaka and editors for decades.

            This reflects in the policies of Kadokawa games, including games that are owned by them and internally developed like for instance High School D × D (which is an “erotic battle adventure”, I’ll let you imagine what D x D is), Demon Gaze, Strike Witches and a lot of others. If you want to see their catalogue you can find it here: You can use google translator to distingush between those that are internally developed with those that are just published. You’ll notice that they really have no trouble working with any theme.

            On the other hand we have Nintendo that sure, doesn’t close down studios (but so doesn’t Kadokawa, at least to my knowledge, they have been very supportive with their developers), but goes ahead and censors the buttocks of a lady wearing a bikini that isn’t even that skimpy. And that’s just the latest case of many with their first party games.

            Yeah, dunno about you, but I’d rather that not happen to Atlus’ games, and Atlus does love its fanservice shots.

          • seiya19

            I know very well the difference between 1st party and 2nd party games, or internal developers and external ones. As I explained before, I don’t think this difference is relevant in the context of Nintendo’s image in the market, nor do I see why this practice only becomes an “issue” when Nintendo does it. It’s no different than how Insomniac makes Ratchet and Clank games for Sony for example, yet no one claims those games don’t count as Sony ones. As long as they own the IPs, then it’s the exact same thing, and this is what happens most of the time with Nintendo.

            Nintendo owned half of Rare back in the SNES/N64 days, and they not only funded their games, but also oversaw development of them. You could say that they still were a 2nd party developer, sure, but they were more than some random external developer. For a more in-depth look at that time, there’s Eurogamer’s article on the matter:

            On the other hand, Nintendo does not own Ganbarion, I know this. Still, the fact that Nintendo approved Pandora’s Tower as a project, funded it, and oversaw its development (as they do with all external collaborations) proves to me that they don’t have a problem with this kind of games. If they had an actual problem with them, why would they spend their money and use their name to sell them ? Why would they “risk” their reputation for a game that they know won’t sell that much anyway, according to your logic ?

            As far as the censorship of Fire Emblem Awakening goes, I was just as upset as anyone else regarding it, as I’m completely against said practices. However, the fact that said content was there in the first place proves that Nintendo has no problem with it per se, and the edits were quite minor to make a big deal out of them. And while I do criticize NoA and NoE for these edits, I believe it was an exception to avoid an M rating for a very minor element, and it’s hard to ignore the overall context here. If a game can get to an M rating because of something as minor as this, then it proves how broken the rating system is… Not to mention what it says about the views of sexual content within videogames in the West… Still, I’m sure that when the game really demands it, the M rating won’t be an issue, as it hasn’t been in the past, and like Bayonetta 2 will prove soon enough.

            Furthermore, let’s not forget that many Japanese publishers in the West have examples of censored games in recent times. For example, Namco-Bandai censored all 3 Xenosaga games in order to avoid an M rating, Sony censored Siren: Blood Curse, and NISA censored Mugen Souls. Why should Nintendo be singled out here ? Whether Kadokawa Games is to be trusted on this is still a question mark to me. I don’t think that their history as publishers for other media in Asia is any indication of how will they handle publishing duties in the West. Different market, different media, different situation. And I obviously wasn’t questioning their willingness to publish games that focus on fanservice in Japan…

            PS: Last post from me, unless you have something for me to answer. I think I’ve wrote enough… I’ll read whatever you want to add though, if any. And I already knew about Kadokawa Games official site, but thanks anyway.

          • Giuseppe Nelva

            Eh, if you want to ignore the real and present difference between 1st and 2nd party development, it’s your choice. You’re the one arbitrarily ignoring an element that isn’t convenient for your flawed argument.

            Aside from the fact that Pandora’s Tower and Rare’s games were a LOT less controversial in themes than Atlus’ most extreme titles like Catherine, they weren’t first party titles, and as long as Nintendo can oversee development, the influence they can (and need to) exercise on a second party developer and title is more limited than first party. A lot more. “overseeing” and “owning” are two completely different things.

            Bayonetta 2 demonstrates nothing, as again, it’s not a first party title. The Bayonetta IP isn’t owned by Nintendo nor is Platinum games.

            Also, comparing edits to avoid an M rating with Fire Emblem’s nonsensical edit is out of place.

            Fire Emblem was already rated, and a lady in a bikini does not give you an M rating in any shape or form, so the edit wasn’t made with a practical reason in mind.

            The fact remains: Kadokawa is very willing (and actually encouraging it) to work with all kind of themes in their own first party games as they always did with their own manga. Nintendo isn’t, and there isn’t a single example in their history that shows the contrary. As a matter of fact there are plenty examples of absolutely unjustified censorship that should make you wary, because they are made on elements that Atlus introduces very often in their games, and many times they go way beyond that.

            Again, if you expect a game like Catherine to ever come out from a Nintendo first party studio… well, you place way more trust in Nintendo than you should, IMHO.

          • seiya19

            For the record, I did know that Bayonetta is not a Nintendo IP (Sega owns it, I believe), and about the situation of Platinum Games. I probably should’ve made that clear before. And as far as I know, Pandora’s Tower is a Nintendo-owned IP, just like Sin and Punishment and The Last Story are.

          • Giuseppe Nelva

            The Last Story surely isn’t. Whatever is the status of Pandora’s Tower, it’s still a second party title, and a VERY tame one compared to a lot of Atlus titles.

          • seiya19
          • Giuseppe Nelva

            Eh, doesn’t really change much. Owning the trademark doesn’t mean owning the IP mind you.

          • seiya19

            I’m fine with excluding 2nd party games from Nintendo as long as we do the same for Kadokawa (or any other publisher). As I mentioned before, no double standards. If Pandora’s Tower, The Last Story and Zangeki no Reginleiv don’t count when discussing Nintendo’s output here because of being 2nd party, then neither does anything from Grasshopper Manufacture (which, by the way, are owned by Gung Ho now), Falcom, Prope, Crafts and Meister, etc on Kadokawa’s side. How exactly does it make sense to use Killer is Dead and The Legend of Heroes games as examples of Kadokawa’s output in your article, yet dismiss any 2nd party game from Nintendo ?

            In any case, I already said my piece. I only replied before to clarify how I did consider the fact that Bayonetta was not owned by Nintendo in my arguments. And I don’t have any interest in discussing which game is the most “mature”, or anything of the sort.

            I guess we’re gonna have to agree to disagree.

  • Daniel Ortiz Nieto

    If only Square had the money…

  • Daniel Lawson

    I hope MS comes in a buys them just to piss everyone of you off

  • Koroma

    Good article. I didn’t know about Kadokawa but i think i’m still rooting for NIS.

  • Teyyd1f

    will game

  • Folk Hellfang

    Kadokawa sounds like a good guess, but my money is on Gung Ho. Riding high on all those Puzzle & Dragon Cheds, they seem most likely to pounce.

  • Alexander Conrad

    kadokawa sounds like a interesting proposition

    i like