Parent company of Atlus, Index Corporation, is currently in financial dire straits, posting a 2.45 billion yen debt and ongoing fraud investigations by a Japanese government agency. Index is looking to sell assets within the next month, and Atlus could very well be on the market. The Persona developer is a formidable name in RPG game development, consistently having its games score high. Shin Megami Tensei IV, out this week, continued that hot streak.
If Index was to auction off Atlus, the bidding would be high. The studio has developed and published games on all three consoles and on 3DS and Vita, having a comfortable relationship with the three console manufacturers. It has published an extraordinary number of games on the PS1 and Ps2, a few for Xbox 360, but lately has focused on the Nintendo 3DS.
As soon as the idea gained traction, commenters left and right called for Nintendo to swoop in. Many compared this to when Nintendo bought Bayonetta, aimed at giving Wii U more quality exclusives. Atlus would be a signature acquisition undoubtedly. The studio’s North American and Japanese fan bases would boost Wii U sales dramatically after Persona 5 is announced under the Nintendo banner. Sustained sales, too, of Atlus’ handheld games sweeten the deal more.
Likewise, Sony could make a case for Atlus. And so could Microsoft, though Xbox’s beleaguered history in embracing anything Japan is, well, depressing. (Match Xbox 360 sales with the two native companies. Depressing is putting it mildly.) For Sony though, the debate boils down to if Atlus games would move consoles. In the short, yes. Especially representing another native company. Sony would not only add a valuable name, it would significantly tighten its chokehold on the competition.
If a publisher sensed there was value, a third party could just as well steal Atlus. Publishers lured in by the speculation are unknown at this point, but the state of the industry may force any potential deals out. A Japanese publisher is likeliest to bid, since Atlus is based in Tokyo. Square Enix first comes to mind, which could use its Final Fantasy knowledge. Capcom would be an interesting fit since Persona 4 Arena is a fighting game, the publisher’s specialty.
Whatever the fallout of Index’s reshuffling, Atlus has massive market appeal. If the studio is floated out there, expect a deal quickly. No distractions to derail production of Persona 5.
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