With its finances in peril, the Netherworld might just be up for sale soon. So, who might be interested in purchasing the developer of Disgaea?
Over the weekend, troubling reports of NIS America’s Japanese parent company, Nippon Ichi Software, not being able to pay its employees surfaced. Sure, NIS America has had a rough couple of years critically, but I certainly didn’t expect to be hearing its parent company was in such a dire situation. Especially, since it brings up the question of what would happen to NIS America itself.
I, along with many of you, am still processing the whole situation. However, one thing came to mind. What if someone bought Nippon Ichi Software and NIS America? Then the question turned to who might buy them. And I came up with five possible candidates.
Keep in mind, this is all speculation, but NIS America and by extension Nippon Ichi Software is something I feel is too valuable just to let go into insolvency. There’s a lot of value there. So, let’s quickly run through why these five companies might want to shell out the money to scoop up both Nippon Ichi Software and NIS America.
The Netherworld is a Treasure Trove of Many Possibilities
There’re two very big reasons another company might want to buy Nippon Ichi Software. The first of which is its most iconic series: Disgaea.
The Disgaea franchise is recognizable to even people who haven’t played the games. Part of this is because NIS America has so closely tied its identity to the franchise. Specifically, through the use of Prinnies. Plus, the games are beloved by those who have played them. Nippon Ichi Software has been careful not to overextend the franchise, so whoever bought the company would have a good IP to work with out of the gate. So, what’s the other reason? Simple, for NIS America itself.
I know some of you may disagree with me here. Especially with examples like Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA and more recently The Princess Guide. But, I’m not saying they should buy NIS America for the localization team, but for their Limited Edition team and logistics network. NIS America not only develops LEs for their own products, but also for the likes of Koei Tecmo, Natsume, and SNK. Limited Editions are becoming a bigger business each year. So, why not buy the team that not only possibly started that trend, but is arguably one of the best in the business? The possibilities here are tempting. Especially for our five candidates.
So, without further ado, let’s start discussing Nippon Ichi Software’s possibly saviors. Starting with, what I feel is the most obvious hero and on that NIS America has recently been adventuring with.
The Hero Who Dashes in to Save its New Partner: Nihon Falcom
Yes, Falcom. This to me is the most obvious choice. Falcom seems to have taken a keen interest in the Western market over the last few years. Mainly thanks to both Ys and the Kiseki/Trails franchises have done superbly well under XSEED Games. While the move to NIS America with Ys VIII was painful, one can only hope that Falcom is keeping a close eye on how NIS America is handling Trails of Cold Steel III. Still, why not just buy Nippon Ichi Software and establish your own Western branch of Falcom.
If Falcom bought Nippon Ichi Software I could imagine them taking of NIS America and just rebranding it to Falcom of America or something similar. Business, as usual, could continue, but with (hopefully) the localization quality being improved. It would also give Falcom a foothold in the Western market and allow them to still network with other niche companies. I can see this as a big win for Falcom even in the eyes of fans. All-in-all, I think makes the most sense. However, Falcom isn’t the only out there with eyes on Nippon Ichi Software. No, there’s also a certain factory to consider as well.
The Maker who Strives for Formulaic Efficacy in their Factories: Idea Factory
Idea Factory is the second company I think that might have an eye on Nippon Ichi Software. Which would be ironic as their western branch IFI, was born out of the success of the Neptunia franchise that NIS America localized. In fact, I think that’s the main reason Idea Factory might look at buying Nippon Ichi Software, familiarity.
Idea Factory and Nippon Ichi Software have worked together a few times before. In addition, many early IFI staff came from NIS America. Just looking at the Western branches alone, both companies produce great Limited Editions. It would make sense to just merge the two together. However, I’m not all that keen on the idea of these two becoming one.
Over the last year, I’ve found myself becoming more and more disappointed with IFI’s localization quality. In terms of quality assurance, I don’t see much difference between the two. Especially, since there’s always at least one text overrun in their games. In addition, Idea Factory itself is true to its namesake. A factory of formulaic ideas.
Death end re;Quest was a good example of what I mean. While I can see while people will enjoy it, after playing over ten of their games last year, I can tell you they tend to design their games in a way to spend as little money as possible. Both from reusing assets, but also from writing plot and characters in a fixed way. So, I don’t see the quality of NIS America’s product going up. In addition, I could also see them overextending the Disgaea franchise like they have Neptunia.
Sure, I could be wrong, but I just don’t have confidence in Idea Factory like I used to. Especially, now as they try and deal with PlayStation’s new policies regarding content. Which has hit IFI particularly hard due to fanservice most Compile Heart games contain. So, possible, but I’d rather not see it. Instead let’s talk about a bigger company that might seem like an odd choice but makes sense once you know a few things: SEGA.
The House of the Blue Blur has Come to be a Phantom Thief of the Netherworld’s Heart: SEGA
SEGA. Former console maker. The home of Sonic the Hedgehog, Valkyria Chronicles, Sakura Wars, and owner of Atlus. While on the surface you might be excited at the prospect of Atlus taking the reigns of Nippon Ichi Software, that’s not why SEGA is on this list. It’s for their business connection to NIS America.
You see, in Japanese business culture, connections are everything. And what better show of how close two companies are than the fact that Atlus rents out part of their E3 booth to NIS America and IFI. Yes, if you’re ever at E3 go find the Atlus booth and you’ll more than likely find both NIS America and IFI occupying part of the area. Makes you think, doesn’t it?
In addition, NIS America has localized Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love. So, they’ve also worked directly with SEGA in the past. I could certainly see SEGA making use of Nippon Ichi Software to put out RPGs while Atlus toils away at their latest masterpiece. Or even using NIS America as a localization arm. Will it happen though? Probably not.
SEGA seems perfectly happy with Atlus and does have franchises of their own to promote. Such as the upcoming Sakura Wars game for 2020. In addition, many would argue that SEGA should be focusing more on their own internal projects. Managing another company could distract from that. Still, SEGA wouldn’t be a bad home for the Prinnies.
But, if not SEGA, who else could step in and master the realm of the netherworld? Three words: It’s Bowser time!
The King of the Koopas and Overlord Supreme: Nintendo
There are few companies with the creativity and focus on quality that Nintendo has. While no Nintendo game is perfect, people eagerly await each title from the publisher. Be it Mario, Fire Emblem, or Xenoblade, people love Nintendo and its games. But, in an already crowded stable of franchises, why would they need to add the likes of Disgaea to the mix? Simple, Disgaea is still good.
While Disgaea is certainly different from many of Nintendo’s core franchises, it’s still a quality series with its own brand of humor and style. I could certainly see Nintendo finding room for the netherworld in its collection of titles. Also, there’s the business side of things to consider. NIS America have been major supporters of the Switch.
Yes, from the beginning NIS America has been supporting the Switch with Disgaea 5: Complete being their first title for the system. In fact, the first time I held a Switch was before its release at a NIS America press event. They went all in on the system and it seems to have been a great gamble. Nintendo would be loath to lose that kind of support. In addition, Nintendo could learn from NIS America about how to better manage their Limited Editions.
Sure, the Nintendo LEs are good, but how many times have you been disappointed that you can’t get your hands on one thanks to Nintendo barely producing any? This kind of thing could be solved by NIS America’s LE team. They have experience figuring out how many copies of games they need. In short, when I’ve failed to secure a NIS America LE its because I waited too long. When I try to score any Nintendo LE, I’m annoyed I never got the chance. I think Nippon Ichi Software could be in good hands with the Big N.
However, this is a list of five. So, who could be better than the almighty house of Mario? Well, let’s swing for space with this one and go with a company that has a Spartan’s chest worth of gold.
Securing a Landing Site in the Land of the Rising Sun: Microsoft
Hear me out on this one.
Microsoft has never seen success in Japan. Despite being a major contender in just about every other region, Japan (and arguably Asia) has never been a success story for them. Part of this, I feel, is that they’ve been either unable to or unwilling to embrace some of the smaller Japanese developers. Though exceptions, like CAVE, do exist. So, why not just buy one of Japan’s niche developers and publishers? Sure, there are risks involved, but there are ways to mitigate it.
For one, Microsoft has gotten cozy with Nintendo recently. So, allow Nippon Ichi Software to continue making games for the Switch. Just have them also create an Xbox One port (and, of course, fund said porting). This way Microsoft can not only appeal to both Japanese gamers but also deny PlayStation the same games. In addition, with PlayStation’s recent policy changes, having a new potential home on the Xbox could help convince more companies to develop or port to Microsoft’s console. But you need to start somewhere. Might as well be Nippon Ichi Software. Anyway, let’s wrap up this list.
That dear reader are my five picks for who should buy Nippon Ichi Software. Do you agree? Is there another company I missed that you might think is a better fit? Or would you rather see Nippon Ichi Software and NIS America stay independent? Let us know in the comments below.
Until next time!