Dark Souls Dev Acquired by Kadokawa

Japanese multi-media publisher Kadokawa will acquire an 80 per cent stake in From Software in a deal set to complete next month.

News by Pete Davison, .

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.

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Comments 11

  • Avatar for brionfoulke91 #1 brionfoulke91 4 years ago
    It's always sounds scary when stuff like this happens. But in reality, it's probably not as bad as it sounds. Probably.

    I'm more worried about whether Miyazaki will come back for the next Souls game.
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  • Avatar for docexe #2 docexe 4 years ago
    @nimzy Whether or not a corporate acquisition is beneficial or a sign of doom depends entirely on who makes the acquisition and how much they interfere with the studio/developer in question.

    Now, in some respects, I think this could be a good fit for From given how Kadokawa has assisted in the publishing of “outlier” niche Japanese games like the recent output from Suda 51. But overall, is probably better to wait and see what effect this acquisition will have rather than go into panic mode.
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  • Avatar for Funny_Colour_Blue #3 Funny_Colour_Blue 4 years ago
    @nimzy Always, always!

    He's right! There's never been a "good" corporate acquisition! I can't even think of one! Someone prove me wrong please:

    Has there ever been a "good" corporate acquisition that still exists today?

    Does it involve the merging of two companies over a particular fruit flavoured candy that I just don't know about? Cause, I really can't think of one. This is sort of troubling.
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  • Avatar for docexe #4 docexe 4 years ago
    @Funny_Colour_Blue Sigh… The most obvious example of “good” corporate acquisitions is Nintendo and their first and second party partners. They acquiring RetroStudios and Monolith Soft resulted in the excellent Metroid Prime Trilogy, DKC Returns duology, Xenoblade Chronicles, etc.

    Note as well the quality of the output from Rare and Silicon Knights when they were partially owned by Nintendo as to what happened when the studios separated from them, and what happened when Rare was acquired by Microsoft. That’s why I say this kind of things being beneficial or a sign of doom depends on who the acquiring partner is and how much (and what type) of control they exert over the studio.
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  • Avatar for renatocosta90 #5 renatocosta90 4 years ago
    Not that it is really related, but it's nice and refreshing to see the same faces commenting here all the time.@nimzy,@brionfoulke91,@docexe and@Funny_colour_blue are always around to provide some thoughts or questions. Procrastination, HO!

    But seriously, I dread that From should be forced to develop mobile games or focus some of their manpower on DLC, as a larger company would demand larger profits (fans be damned). We can just cross our fingers and pray, for now. Also, got Dark Souls 2 friday for PC, and couldn't play over the weekend. My work day couldn't go slower than this >.
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  • Avatar for Critical_Hit #6 Critical_Hit 4 years ago
    I like Kadokawa. They're young, but "hungry", and they've worked on some very interesting stuff. When other Japanese devs & publishers push more towards mobile and handheld, they are making console games with Grasshopper. They're one of the first devs on PS4 with Natural Doctrine. They're a good match for From Software, and they're not a big enough publisher to eff everything up for them.

    I'm hopeful this will all work out for the best. FROM Software being added to their other deverlopers will just strengthen the group overall. I haven't seen too many (actually any, so far) Japanese acquisitions go down like, say, when EA acquires a developer. This should be good.
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  • Avatar for Blackcompany #7 Blackcompany 4 years ago
    Dear Publisher:

    From fans love From because they refuse to 'mainstream' their games. To mess with their formula at all is to throw away the entirety of your investment.

    If you force them to simplify their games, you have wasted your money. If you force them to mainstream their games, you have wasted your money. If you force them to utilize heavy handed narrative structures or hand holding techniques such as quest markers, you have wasted your money. Adding regenerating health, save scumming, mini maps, mission structures/areas, and NPC escorts means you have wasted your money.

    In short: Forcing From - and their games - to become more like everyone else means you will have wasted your money. When From come to you and say, 'We have another idea for a game based on the core principles we believe our games should feature and developed along similar lines, and all we need from you is X amount for funding,' the only right answer from you is, simply, "Yes."
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