Gust Corporation is the Japanese developer behind the Ar Tonelico and Atelier franchises, for those of you who might not keep up with small Japanese developers. Today Tecmo Koei announced that they have acquired Gust for a total of 22 million Yen, purchasing all of the company’s stock. This isn’t particularly unusual, considering the larger company has worked closely with Gust in the past to publish their games in Europe.
Now, I’m a fan of Gust and their RPGs, and I’m not quite sure how I feel about this. Typically when a bigger corporation picks up a smaller developer like that, the games change – maybe not immediately, but over time. Gust makes some of the most unique (in my opinion) niche RPGs these days, especially the gorgeous and adorable Atelier titles (the last two of which we’ve given pretty darn good scores to here: Atelier Rorona and Atelier Totori). I also praised Ar Tonelico Qoga as one of my favorite JRPGs of this generation. So, they certainly do have a knack for producing quality content, even if it isn’t appreciated by most Western gamers. I would rather not see that quality – and that spark that makes Gust games unique – disappear now that they’re acquired by a larger international publisher.
I do, however, think there’s a better chance than most that things will stay pretty much the same because Tecmo Koei is one of the partners in Europe that publishes Gust games there, along with NIS America. The only change that we may see down the line is the titles are self-published in North America, so to speak, leaving NIS America out of the loop. That in itself is unfortunate, as I’ve come to respect NIS America, as well as their often superb localization quality, over the last few years.
I suppose only time will tell. Although, with the supposed conclusion of the Ar Tonelico titles and the wrap-up of the latest trio of Atelier games, it will be interesting to see where this merger goes and what direction Tecmo Koei pushes their new acquisition. One report on the acquisition states that Tecmo Koei will be taking the Atelier franchise in more of a social direction (while, it should be noted, nothing was mentioned that that is the only direction they will be using for the franchise going forward, so standard console-based Atelier titles may likely still be produced).
In either case, it seems Tecmo Koei is huge on raising the value of the Atelier franchise specifically, as that is Gust’s most popular series of games. Let’s hope things get better for the developer and not worse in the future.