Volt, Tee, you guys may want to sit down for this one ... the news isn't great.
I wish that I could be writing some good news in regards to what many people think is an excellent company that has been behind a lot of great games, but right now Atlus may be at risk. What's worse, the risk might be originating through absolutely no fault of its own.
The company behind the Persona, and Shin Megami Tensai series has been owned or at least been under the wing of Index Holdings since roughly 2006. And even though Atlus seems to be doing fine as a studio, in this case it's Index that may be threatening to bring the entire thing down.
Index has filed for bankruptcy on top of being accused of fraud and having an investigation which I believe is still ongoing at this point. The parent company has found itself roughly a quarter billion dollars in debt: a staggering $250 million dollars after conversions.
Of course, on top of that, the fraud accusations in and of themselves are very troubling. Index has been accused of "round-tripping" which is selling off assets to other firms with the agreement that they are to be repurchased later. This helps bump up the sales numbers when it comes to crunch time, it's also rather illegal in Japan. The article I linked above also mentions that falsified records have been found, so a concern that even worse problems lurk under the surface is unfortunately quite genuine.
Whether or not the company goes insolvent, it may be seeking to sell of Atlus to either help keep its head above water, or of course as part of the bankruptcy proceedings. The question -- and perhaps also the problem -- is who the game developer may end up going to and calling home.
Certainly Nintendo and Sony are strong contenders; either company would doubtless love to gain an exclusive hold over some of the games and franchises that Atlus could bring to the table. Koei has also been bandied about as a potential buyer. I would like to say that even if Atlus is bought that not much would change, but a lot of gamers, myself included, know there's no such thing as any sort of guarantee in these situations.
Although it does seem that the company is continuing business as usual, thanks to this quote sent through email to Erik Kain:
"Currently, Index Digital Media, Inc. and the ATLUS brand are unaffected
by the Index Corporation proceedings in Japan. We’re carrying on
day-to-day activities, business as usual. Shin Megami Tensei IV and
Dragon’s Crown are still releasing on July 16 and August 6 respectively,
and we’re licensing and publishing third-party titles such as R.I.P.D:
The Game and Daylight. We want to thank all of our fans for their
outpouring of support."
I cannot help but wonder if it may not remain as such for very much longer.