A few months ago, times were looking troubled for Atlus thanks to suspicions of fraudulent accounting from its parent company Index. The story went quiet for a while, but it seems its next chapter is about to begin, as Sega confirms it has purchased Index.
Rumors started to circulate earlier today after reports from Nikkei and Bloomberg claimed Sega had won an auction to purchase the bankrupt company for 14 billion yen (nearly $142 million) and that the deal would be completed by November of this year.
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Shortly afterwards, our sister site Eurogamer reported that Sega had indeed purchased the beleaguered company. Specifically, a newly formed part of Sega known as Sega Dream Corporation -- founded at the beginning of this month -- had snapped up Index so that it could "gain access to prominent IPs in home video game software" as well as "expect further facilitation of revenue growth for the PC online game business and content business for smart devices... by exploiting acquired prominent IPs" and "effectively deploying [acquired IPs] in the Pachislot and Pachinko machines segment, amusement machine sales and amusement center operations segments."
In other words, Sega now has its hands on all of Atlus' intellectual property, which includes the Shin Megami Tensei series and its Persona offshoot, old-school RPG series Etrian Odyssey and a number of other smaller titles. Atlus was also set to publish the upcoming new installment in the Tex Murphy FMV adventure series, and also recently published the controversial brawler-RPG Dragon's Crown.
This is the second big purchase Sega has made in the last year -- back in January of this year the company purchased Company of Heroes developer Relic along with the IP rights to the developer's best-known series.
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It remains to be seen whether this will be of benefit to Atlus in the long run. Certainly, it will ease the company's financial difficulties and ensure the security of all confirmed upcoming Atlus releases, but fans of the more peculiar Japanese titles that Atlus has previously brought to the West may have some cause for concern due to Sega's apparent increasing reluctance to localize its own Japanese titles, and dragging their heels somewhat over those demanded by fans. It took a significant period of time for the company to bring over the not-very-text-heavy Hatsune Miku Project Diva F, for example, and it's sounding increasingly like we'll never see Yakuza 5 in the West. As for Phantasy Star Online 2, that's anyone's guess.
Still, with any luck Sega will realize that a big part of Atlus' appeal to the gaming community as a whole was the fact it was willing to take risks and bring us peculiar Japanese games like Catherine -- a title which not one but two of the USgamer team named one of their favorite games of the generation on PS3. Let's hope that continues.