The name "Kadokawa" may not be hugely familiar to you as a Western gamer, but the company is a successful multi-media publishing company in its native Japan.
Kadokawa's work in its homeland encompasses not only video games, but also books, magazines, movies and manga. Popular Japanese anime and manga magazine Newtype is a Kadokawa publication, for example, and its manga offerings include a diverse range from Black Rock Shooter to Lucky Star via classics such as Neon Genesis Evangelion and Tenchi Muyo.
Here in the West, you're most likely to have come across Kadokawa through its video games publishing division Kadokawa Games, which co-published the English version of Grasshopper Manufacture title Lollipop Chainsaw, co-developed the recent Vita dungeon crawler Demon Gaze and helped bring us the highly accessible game development tool RPG Maker VX Ace, the work of Kadokawa subsidiary Enterbrain.
Earlier today, Gamebiz (via Siliconera) reported that Kadokawa had acquired From Software, best known these days as the creators of the Souls series. According to the report, the acquisition will be finalized on May 21 and will see Kadokawa holding 80 per cent of the stock in the company. It sounds as if From Software will remain as an independent entity rather than being absorbed into the Kadokawa Games brand -- probably a wise decision, since the Souls series in particular has helped to put the developer on the map for a lot of gamers in recent years.
Prior to the acquisition, From Software acted as an independent developer partnering with publishers to bring their games to market. The PS3-only Demon's Souls was brought to players with the help of Sony, Atlus and Bandai Namco; meanwhile, the multiplatform Dark Souls and its sequel came to store shelves via Bandai Namco alone, as did the most recent installments in the giant robot-themed Armored Core series, the other franchise for which From Software is most widely known.
The reasons for the acquisition were threefold according to From Software CEO Naotoshi Zin, as reported by Famitsu. Firstly, the need to "further expand platforms; everything from simple hardware to cloud network." Secondly, the "requirement to better correspond to regions (more global, more local)." Thirdly, the "coalescence between content." These phrases are all rather vague in themselves, but taken together it looks as if Kadokawa is keen to expand its video games division significantly, and intends to make use of From Software to help make that a reality.
"With a new system, from this point on, I believe we'll be able to make newer and more in-depth games," said Zin.
It's not clear what effect -- if any -- the new deal will have on From Software at this time. It will likely have a positive impact on Kadokawa's games output as a whole, though; while Kadokawa's previous internally developed games are often seen as being developed somewhat "on the cheap," From Software has built up a good record of putting together highly polished, extremely well put together games that will doubtless in the future help to bolster Kadokawa's video games portfolio considerably.
Maybe don't hold your breath for a new Souls game starring doe-eyed anime girls, though.