In case you spent the past 39 hours playing GTA5, let me enlighten you on that fact that Sega Sammy (Sega’s parent company) is set to buy Index Corporation (Atlus’ parent company). This comes after months of speculation over who would acquire Atlus, with fans everywhere voicing terror over the idea of Nintendo, Sony, or Microsoft buying up Atlus and holding the Persona, Shin Megami Tensei, and Demon’s Souls franchises hostage.
The news of Sega’s purchase buried that fear while unearthing another one. Fans all over the internet, from IGN to Joystiq, are dreading Sega’s impending purchase. Sega has a reputation for playing it conservative when it comes to localizing niche titles (like the Valkyria Chronicles series), and Atlus specializes in providing American gamers with niche RPGs and games like Trauma Center. Some gamers see the Sega/Atlus combo as a recipe for armageddon, although we’ve yet to learn just how hands-on Sega will be with its new acquisition. It’s entirely possible that Sega will let them run relatively free like Square Enix with Eidos and EA with Bioware.
As for me, I’m not pulling any alarms. Atlus has been self-sufficient for years, having had success in the U.S. with the Persona series and Demon’s Souls. As conservative as Sega is when it comes to localization in the West, I like to believe that Atlus could point to Demon’s Souls and say, “Hey, we took a chance on this in the States and people were demanding reprints in no time. Let us do our thing.” Atlus typically sends over games in small amounts, then follow up by air-dropping reprints everywhere once fans bemoan missing out on the early shipments. It’s a strategy that worked for Demon’s Souls and Radiant Historia, so I see no reason why Sega can’t be open-minded about it.
Now let’s sip at glass that’s half-full. Set the localization worries aside, and note that Atlus now has access to Sega IPs like Skies of Arcadia and Valkyria Chronicles. For those of us out there craving a Skies of Arcadia sequel, Atlus might be our best hope of seeing Vyse and Aika plunder the skies again. As for Valkyria Chronicles, there’s always hope that Atlus could help localize Valkyria Chronicles 3 or future games in the franchise that Sega wouldn’t dare send Stateside.
I’ll be honest, I’m not the biggest Atlus fan–Disgaea was too level-grindy for my tastes, Demon’s Souls felt too clunky, and my Persona 3 save corrupted after six hours of play–but I respect the hell out of them for pushing niche titles into a country that eats, drinks, and inhales FPSs. Here’s hoping Sega shares that respect.