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Sega Acquires Atlus, What Now?

So let’s start this with what happened last night, Sega Sammy Holdings will purchase the bankrupt Index Holdings for 14 billion yen ($141 million), with the deal finalizing in November. If you don’t know, Index Holdings own many different companies such as the anime studio Madhouse and the popular Japanese game publisher Atlus. Atlus stated that nothing would change with their development during the bankruptcy of Index, but it is unsure if that stays true with the Sega buyout.

With Atlus now under Sega’s wing, much like how Company of Heroes 2 developer Relic Entertainment did earlier this year, JRPG fans are nervous that Sega might change how they do business and game development.

What Can Be Good About Sega Owning Atlus

Company of Heroes 2
is a good example of this actually. When Sega acquired Relic and the Company of Heroes IP from a dying THQ back in January, Sega didn't really do a thing to interfere with development (though the game was almost done when Sega took it over). CoH2 released in June on Steam after a beta in April and received positive reviews. Luckily for fans the story ended happily and it was because of Sega in the end. With Sega’s positive track record this year with buyouts, Atlus fans can look at Relic and, hopefully, breathe a sigh of relief.

What Can Be Nerve-racking About Sega Owning Atlus

This can go badly in two ways, and the first is because of Sega’s overambitious expectations with games. Sega is one of those publishers that go a bit overboard with their budget and if they don’t succeed, they suppress or even retire the IP. If it wasn't for Nintendo, Bayonetta 2 would have never existed even though the original sold over a million copies, and Sega would probably forget about the long, costly and infamous development of Aliens: Colonial Marines. JRPGs aren't games that sell a lot of copies and their budgets are green-lighted to reflect that. that means if Sega wants to believe that something like Persona could go “further” thanks to bigger budgets and intense marketing, they are going to be very disappointed with their purchase.

The other way this can go badly can be aimed towards Sega’s current ambition with JRPGs in the West, because there isn't any. Sega, like any other Japanese publisher, has a decent history with the genre with series like Shining Force, Phantasy Star, Skies of Arcadia, and Valkyria Chronicles to name a few. The problem is that many of these IPs haven’t had installments in the West for quite some time, and the future isn’t looking too good either. In 2013, the only JRPG in the US that has Sega’s name to it is Project X Zone for the 3DS, and that was a crossover published by Namco.

Unfortunately, it’s way too early to tell what is going to happen with Atlus. It is also unknown what will happen to current games in development, like the crossover game Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem for the Wii U that was teased last January. Sega’s a much different partner for a publisher like Atlus because Sega’s known for more bigger profile games. However, while it seems that Sega has nothing to do with smaller games, they did recently release the rhythmic Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F for the PS3 last month, and that is as niche as you can get. Until we see some solid news about what will be different within Atlus now (if any), JRPG fans will be waiting with bated breath.


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