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Atlus output strategy | Discussion thread

Phantom Thief

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In light of this being an ongoing, popular topic of discussion that often takes over other discussion threads, and in line with the similar thread that exists for Square Enix, I have decided to make a thread to discuss the output strategy for Atlus for this coming generation as well. This is an incredibly interesting topic of discussion because Atlus is traditionally a very Japanese-centric company, but their biggest brand is PlayStation exclusive, and PlayStation is currently as near to being a non-entity in Japan as it ever has been, but also because of the historic high interest in Atlus properties and games over the last few years, given their games finally breaking out in the mainstream globally.

NINTENDO

History:


Atlus is historically one of Nintendo's oldest partners, and there appears to be a relationship of respect and accommodations that goes both ways between the two companies. Atlus' support for Nintendo dates back to the original NES, and even at the time, Nintendo seemingly allowed a lot of leeway to Atlus in terms of content and subject matter for their games that they weren't otherwise big on for games on their systems, even in Japan. Atlus has, since then, supported most Nintendo systems - even Virtual Boy! - and Nintendo holds them in high enough regard that partnered announcements with Atlus were used both to kickstart the Wii U, and to legitimize the Switch (in January 2013with SMTxFE and January 2017 with SMTV respectively). In total, Atlus has supported the NES, SNES, Wii, Wii U, Switch, Gameboy, Gameboy Color, Gameboy Advance, Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS, and Virtual Boy with their games of the Nintendo systems. Every major Atlus IP - Shin Megami Tensei (and all its various variants), Persona, Catherine, Etrian Odyssey, Radiant Historia, Trauma Team - has shown up on Nintendo platforms, and all of those except Persona either have most, or all, of their mainline entries available on Nintendo platforms. Etrian Odyssey, SMT, and Trauma Team are very heavily Nintendo aligned properties - every SMT game except one was a Nintendo exclusive at launch (the one notable exception would eventually get ported to the Switch), every Etrian Odyssey game is a Nintendo exclusive, and every Trauma Team game is a Nintendo exclusive. Catherine skipped Nintendo originally, but ultimately came over, and Persona has received multiple spin offs on Nintendo platforms, but no mainline entry yet. Atlus' support for Nintendo has been exceptionally strong overall, with especially Nintendo handhelds benefiting from a bounty of Atlus games (the DS and 3DS got supported by Atlus longer than by Nintendo, with major new Atlus releases for the 3DS coming as late as 2019), and the Switch seems to be inheriting that strong legacy.

Current Situation:
Atlus was one of the first publishers to announce major Switch support, with SMT5 having been announced as a Switch exclusive during the system's debut presentation. They were, however, slow to follow through after that - Atlus is famously slow in transitioning to new systems (we'll see this in a bit), and for the first three years of the Switch's life, Atlus instead reaped the bounty it had sown by cultivating a fanbase on PlayStation 4, with multiple PlayStation exclusive titles from them releasing in this period. Since 2020, this situation has changed dramatically - Atlus has released five Switch games in this period, every single one of their upcoming games has a Switch version announced, and every game they have announced since mid early 2020 was either a Switch exclusive, or had a Switch version as well. Their efforts are generally paying off too - Nocturne HD performed best on Switch, SMT5 over performed (Atlus expressed satisfaction at the game's sales), with global sales of 800,000 in just six weeks (a 133% increase over the previous series record), and they have begun bringing over formerly PlayStation aligned properties to the Switch too, as evidenced by the announcement of the upcoming Switch port of 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim. They have also announced (teased?) a new Etrian Odyssey game, which is presumed to be a Switch exclusive (though any more information about the game, up to and including its continued existence, is currently unknown).

PLAYSTATION:

History:

Atlus has actually been an early supporter for PlayStation as well! The company seems to have had a characteristic knack of attempting earnest support for every new platform, and then sticking with the ones that work, and with PlayStation, they hit it big very early on. Every single PlayStation platform ever has had some form of Atlus support - that means PlayStation, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation Vita, and even PlayStation VR and PlayStation 4 Pro! Atlus' biggest win on PlayStation was Persona, which hit it big on the PS1 with the first entry, and which has remained PlayStation exclusive for the mainline games ever since. Typically, the PlayStation side of Atlus' support seems to be Persona and VanillaWare stuff, but in the PS2 era especially, Atlus put everything on PlayStation - SMT (Nocturne was a PS2 exclusive!) and the glut of SMT variants they produced in this period (including Digital Devil Saga and Devil Summoner: Raidou); since then, their support has receded to mostly being Persona, Persona spin offs, and VanillaWare on PlayStation platforms (as well as the P-Studio led Catherine), but even so, Atlus seems to support PlayStation platforms longer than even Sony - Persona 4 was famously a PS2 game in 2008, Persona 5 was a PS3 game in 2016, and Atlus seems to be showing no signs of moving on from the PS4 for now either. They were also among the strongest supporters for the PS Vita - the most celebrated Vita game was Persona 4 Golden, and Atlus kept it Vita exclusive until 2020! They continued to support Vita for years after that - Persona 3, 4, and 5 Dancing all got Vita versions (4 Dancing was a Vita exclusive at launch, until a belated PS4 port years later), and their VanillaWare fare, such as Odin Sphere and Dragon's Crown, all had Vita versions simultaneously launching with PS4 versions. Even 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim was originally intended as a Vita game, until the development troubles protracted to the point that by the time it was releasing, the Vita was basically dead.

Current Situation:
PlayStation has been great for Atlus. Atlus' biggest successes ever all have come from PlayStation - Revelations: Persona, Nocturne, Persona 3, Persona 4, Persona 5. There is very little to no chance that Atlus will drop PlayStation, especially given the association between it and their flagship IP. At present, Atlus still has PS4 games in the pipeline (the upcoming port of Persona 4 Arena Ultimax), and if their long term support for PS1, PS2, PS3, PSP, PS Vita, and even non PlayStation platforms such as DS and 3DS, is any indication, then they are in it for the long haul with PS4 too. At the present moment, Atlus has no PS5 games announced. However, as mentioned, it is exceedingly unlikely that Atlus will not support the PS5; Persona 6, in particular, is widely expected to be PlayStation exclusive, so even if it does hit the PS4, the chances of it not having a PS5 version are slim to none. That aside, with Atlus, we are a bit in the dark as far as PlayStation support goes. SMTV had some references to PS4 in the codebase at launch that got scrubbed out, that suggests that a belated PS4 release for the game may be on the cards, and Re:Fantasy can be presumed to, at the very least, also be hitting PlayStation (if not hitting PlayStation exclusively) given the creative team working on it's platform preferences and proclivities, but most of this is speculation and guesswork. As I said, the chances of Atlus not supporting the PS5 are as close to zero as it is possible to be without actually being zero - but for now, we're working in the dark here.

PC:

History:

Atlus has no history for PC support, and has tended to ignore the platform internally (though exceptions such as a PC port of Revelations: Persona, and a Sega of Europe developed port of Catherine Classic, did exist); however, in 2020, they ported Persona 4 Golden to Steam out of nowhere, and enjoyed massive success, expressing, multiple times, happiness at just how extraordinarily well it had performed, and noting that they were going to consider moving to multiplatform development as a result. The jury is out on whether or not that will happen, but since then, Atlus has stepped up PC support by a fair bit - SMT: Nocturne HD, Persona 5 Strikers, and the upcoming Persona 4 Arena Ultimax port all have PC versions, and based on a number of well-placed and well-sourced leaks, a PC port for SMTV is widely considered to be a given at this point too.

Current Situation:
It's really hard to put a finger on where Atlus stands with PC gaming, to be honest. As I mentioned, they did do PC ports for Nocturne and Strikers, and Ultimax is going to get one too - but, for example, 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim did not get any PC version announced alongside the Switch one, and mainline Persona remains absent from the platform in spite of 4 Golden's success, and Atlus' acknowledgement of said success. At the present moment, it is probably best to assume that Atlus' PC support will come down to a smattering of games that are outsourced to external partners (such as Strikers), games that are not in exclusivity arrangements with platform holders (such as Nocturne HD or Persona 4 Arena Ultimax), and late ports of their titles as and when they get to them (such as, presumably, SMT5). For now, we can also assume that at least as far as Atlus' smaller teams go, PC is not the primary priorate for them - so VanillaWare games, or titles such as Etrian Odyssey, may still miss PC, even though they are presumably not in any hard exclusivity arrangements with any platform holder.

XBOX

History:
Believe it or not, Atlus actually jumped headfirst into Xbox support and development originally; presumably because their early support for Nintendo, PlayStation, and Sega (yes, really, Atlus thrived especially on Sega Saturn) paid off so well for them, they were there very early for Xbox. No less than the first new mainline entry for their at the time flagship franchise in almost a decade was going to launch as an Xbox exclusive - Shin Megami Tensei Nine. Yes, Atlus actually decided to bring mainline SMT over to Xbox before PlayStation! It was an ambitious game, that fully leveraged the network capabilities of the platform, but it bombed spectacularly, and it would take the PS2 to bail them out at the time. However, even so, they remained largely undaunted - Catherine, the brand new IP from the makers of Persona, was announced for the Xbox 360 (alongside the PS3), and the Xbox 360 also got both Persona 4 Arena games. However, Atlus' support for the platform has dried up since, and no Atlus developed or partnered game has had a launch on an Xbox platform in over a decade.

Current Situation:
Atlus doesn't really seem to acknowledge Xbox much; its musings on a multiplatform strategy typically seem to centre around Nintendo/PlayStation/PC as the core pillars, and the company's multiplatform releases over the last few years have all pointedly skipped Xbox, including the ones that are developed by external partners; even games such as Persona 4 Arena Ultimax are skipping Xbox with the upcoming re-release, in spite of the original title's Xbox 360 release. Catherine Full Body did not release on the Xbox (even though Xbox 360 was the lead platform for the original Catherine!). Persona 5 Strikers did not release on Xbox. SMT Nocturne HD did not release on Xbox. Atlus hasn't even made the Xbox 360 version of Ultimax backward compatible on the Xbox right now, actually, let alone release the port on there. Atlus' now famous annual surveys quizzing players about what games they would like to see where don't even acknowledge Xbox as a platform choice (they acknowledge Stadia, but not Xbox), though I believe that actually changed with the most recent one. In spite of this, Xbox head Phil Spencer has name dropped Atlus multiple times as a partner he would like back for Xbox, and typically so far, Spencer gets what he says he wants, so there remains a chance that Atlus may put out something on the Xbox at some point in the future. But right now? Atlus' support of Xbox is at an all time low, a nadir so bad that even Stadia gets placed higher by the company than Xbox does.

--

Additionally, given that we just had two new consoles launch, and that at some point in the future, we will see a third new one as well, I feel like the information below is especially pertinent - the time Atlus takes to publicly pledge support for a new system. For this, I've stuck to PlayStation and Nintendo systems only, and I only go as far back as the DS, because information from before then gets harder and harder to find. Nonetheless, I feel like this does a good enough job of demonstrating how slow Atlus is to move to new systems.

Remember, this list is for announcements only, not releases.
  • DS: July 2004, four months before system launch (Trauma Team + 4 other games)
  • PSP: March 2005, three months after system launch (Devil Summoner)
  • Wii: May 2006, six months before system launch (Trauma Team Second Opinion)
  • PS3: August 2010: forty five months after system launch (Catherine)
  • 3DS: June 2010, ten months before system launch (SMT+Persona+Etrian Odyssey)
  • PS Vita: August 2011, four months before system launch (Persona 4 Golden)
  • Wii U: January 2013, two months after system launch (Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE)
  • PS4: September 2014, ten months after system launch (Persona 5)
  • Switch: January 2017, two months before system launch (SMT5)
--

Finally, because this is pertinent when discussing Atlus, here is a list of their last release for every platform:

  • GBA: February 2006, one year and four months after successor launched (Kunio-kun Nekketsu Collection 3)
  • PS2: December 2008, two years and one month after successor launched (Persona 4)
  • DS: March 2012, one year after successor launched (Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2)
  • PSP: May 2012, seven months after system launch (Persona 2: Eternal Punishment)
  • Wii: May 2010, two and a half years before successor launched (Trauma Team)
  • PS3: April 2017, three and a half years after successor launched (Persona 5)
  • 3DS: June 2019, two years and four months after successor launched (Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth)
  • PS Vita: February 2019, two years after system discontinuation (Catherine: Full Body)
  • Wii U: June 2016, nine months before successor launched (Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE)
  • PS4: March 2022, one and a half years after successor launched and counting (Persona 4 Arena Ultimax)*
* Entirely possible they announce more PS4 games after this too - as mentioned, a PS4 version of SMT5 or Persona 6 is not off the table.

--

Anyway, that was a lot of information, but I figure it's pertinent and relevant, and that Install Base can use this to have some informed speculation and discussion about what we expect from Atlus going forward. They're increasingly more high profile and prominent and important, as time goes on, and clearly this is a topic that interests this forum. What future do you see for Atlus? Do they continue putting out various games as exclusives, or do they start going more for multiplatform releases? What will their strategy be like as a Japan-centric developer who have nonetheless found great success globally now? What do we expect from them with regards to Switch (which they are all in on now), PS5 (which they are guaranteed to be all in on eventually), and PC (which they continue to flirt with)? Will they ever fully commit to PC? Will they return to Xbox? Will SMT and Persona "break free" of their exclusivity shackles? I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

At present, Atlus has five new projects in development (ten if we count VanillaWare):

Great job outlining their release strategy.

Back in July Atlus did outline the amount of games they have in some stage of production:

  • “There are currently five or six development lines in effect. Or about 10 when you include Vanillaware and other external companies we’re working with, plus technological research and development.”
  • PROJECT Re FANTASY is progressing little by little, and we hope to deliver it when the timing is right.”
  • “We hope to be able to share more news on Etrian Odyssey to everyone as soon as possible.”

https://www.gematsu.com/2021/07/atl...-big-unannounced-projects-in-development-more

With 5 or so internal development lines going, it's pretty clear they have a lot going on right now.
 
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I think we can chalk most of Atlus decision as old people that have a more stubborn attitude to most common practices that will take either time to mend or financial incentives to change.
Honestly discussing p6 before trailer release is honestly useless since we dont even have a release date makes this a lot of hypothetical.
I hope for some Desu3 though.
 
Good thread!

There's two things I'm curious about Atlus' future, leaving the usual aside:

1) If P6 truly is PS5-exclusive and if that leads to further decline of the series in Japan, will this have consequences for the content of the next entry? That's surely a long time in the future, but as I mentioned in the MC-thread, it must be exceedingly weird to make a game about Japanese school life not for Japanese school students and nostalgic Japanese adults, but Western people. If there's consequences, will it be to pander to Western people? Or will Atlus take steps to regain sales popularity within Japan?

2) I just really would love to see a new Persona-game (mainline) release on Switch same day with PlayStation. My personal feeling is that the sales of the Switch-version would have everyone in awe, including Atlus who would retrospectively eat a lot of crow for not putting the franchise on Nintendo-handhelds earlier. As someone who enjoyed P4G on his PSVita and cannot imagine playing these games on anything but a handheld, it feels like that would be extremely revelatory.
 
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Good thread!

There's two thinks I'm curious about Atlus' future, leaving the usual aside:

1) If P6 truly is PS5-exclusive and if that leads to further decline of the series in Japan, will this have consequences for the content of the next entry? That's surely a long time in the future, but as I mentioned in the MC-thread, it must be exceedingly weird to make a game about Japanese school life not for Japanese school students and nostalgic Japanese adults, but Western people. If there's consequences, will it be to pander to Western people? Or will Atlus take steps to regain sales popularity within Japan?

2) I just really would love to see a new Persona-game (mainline) release on Switch same day with PlayStation. My personal feeling is that the sales of the Switch-version would have everyone in awe, including Atlus who would retrospectively eat a lot of crow for not putting the franchise on Nintendo-handhelds earlier. As someone who enjoyed P4G on his PSVita and cannot imagine playing these games on anything but a handheld, it feels like that would be extremely revelatory.
Thank you!

In the long run, eventually, I think Persona mainline will be fully multiplatform, much like SMT and all other Atlus projects will be. I just don't see it happening any time soon, and certainly not this generation (unless this generation ends up lasting longer than usual ofc). If/when Persona launches on PC and Nintendo alongside PlayStation, I can actually see the sales being stratospherically high. I have said before that a fully multiplatform Persona release would easily end up in the same general echelon of sales as the average Final Fantasy release, and I do stand by that. But again, that's a long way down the line. This generation will be Atlus' first steps at cross-pollination/multiplatform releases; multiplat releases for smaller games, delayed ports for older games, and IP such as SMT and Persona breaking their traditional platform associations. So like, Nocturne was on Switch and PS4 and PC, and I think P4G will eventually hit Switch and PS4 in addition to the already existing PC release too. But SMTV was a Nintendo exclusive at launch, and I think Persona 6 will be a PlayStation exclusive at launch too.
 
Thanks for the thread @Phantom Thief

Persona 6 aside, I'm mostly curious to see what platforms they'll target for Project Re Fantasy.

Wonder if they'll try a multiplatform strategy from day 1 (PC/PS/Switch and mayyyyyyybe Xbox).

1) If P6 truly is PS5-exclusive and if that leads to further decline of the series in Japan, will this have consequences for the content of the next entry? That's surely a long time in the future, but as I mentioned in the MC-thread, it must be exceedingly weird to make a game about Japanese school life not for Japanese school students and nostalgic Japanese adults, but Western people. If there's consequences, will it be to pander to Western people? Or will Atlus take steps to regain sales popularity within Japan?

This continues to make no sense to me.

The games are successful because of what they are, why exactly would they try to change them just because of a possible decline in japanese sales when most of their sales aren't even coming from there in the first place.
 
Great job outlining their release strategy.

Back in July Atlus did outline the amount of games they have in some stage of production:
  • “There are currently five or six development lines in effect. Or about 10 when you include Vanillaware and other external companies we’re working with, plus technological research and development.”
  • PROJECT Re FANTASY is progressing little by little, and we hope to deliver it when the timing is right.”
  • “We hope to be able to share more news on Etrian Odyssey to everyone as soon as possible.”
https://www.gematsu.com/2021/07/atl...-big-unannounced-projects-in-development-more

With 5 or so internal development lines going, it's pretty clear they have a lot going on right now.
 
Thanks for the thread @Phantom Thief

Persona 6 aside, I'm mostly curious to see what platforms they'll target for Project Re Fantasy.

Wonder if they'll try a multiplatform strategy from day 1 (PC/PS/Switch and mayyyyyyybe Xbox).
If I am not wrong, Studio Zero job listings ask for familiarity with PS4 and Nintendo Switch, so I would assume it will hit both of those (Hashino seems to be fine with experimenting with multiplatform releases for his new IP ventures too, judging by Catherine), with a PC version thrown in for the west maybe? Less sure on that last bit though.

Great job outlining their release strategy.

Back in July Atlus did outline the amount of games they have in some stage of production:

https://www.gematsu.com/2021/07/atl...-big-unannounced-projects-in-development-more

With 5 or so internal development lines going, it's pretty clear they have a lot going on right now.
Thank you so much! Is it okay if I put this in the OP?
 
Even Falcom is changing its strategy from PS exclusive to multiplatform now, which is something I didn't expect at all. I wouldn't be surprised if things have changed for Atlus too.

However, one monumental difference between Falcom and Atlus is that a much bigger share of their sales and revenue come from outside Asia, where PlayStation is still a very successful brand. This means they're less reliant on Japan and they can 'afford' to stay focused on PlayStation for a longer time than Falcom. Furthermore, due to the sheer sales volume of Persona 5 and Persona 5 Royal, I would say they're a much more interesting partner for Sony, who could cover a part of the development cost in exchange for (timed) exclusivity or exclusive marketing.

Sony may be less focused on the Japanese market now, but I think they understand that the audience for Japanese games is big enough in the west that they don't want to lose that. Final Fantasy, the different Dragon Ball games, Dark Souls, Tekken and also Persona are important third-party releases for Sony, and I think they're still willing to invest into those series.

The rest of Atlus' pipeline is a bigger question. At least one of their teams has been getting used to Unreal Engine 5 development, thanks to Shin Megami Tensei V. If that becomes their go-to engine, then multiplatform development will become the way to go for them, unless moneyhats are involved.
 
Even Falcom is changing its strategy from PS exclusive to multiplatform now, which is something I didn't expect at all. I wouldn't be surprised if things have changed for Atlus too.

However, one monumental difference between Falcom and Atlus is that a much bigger share of their sales and revenue come from outside Asia, where PlayStation is still a very successful brand. This means they're less reliant on Japan and they can 'afford' to stay focused on PlayStation for a longer time than Falcom. Furthermore, due to the sheer sales volume of Persona 5 and Persona 5 Royal, I would say they're a much more interesting partner for Sony, who could cover a part of the development cost in exchange for (timed) exclusivity or exclusive marketing.

Sony may be less focused on the Japanese market now, but I think they understand that the audience for Japanese games is big enough in the west that they don't want to lose that. Final Fantasy, the different Dragon Ball games, Dark Souls, Tekken and also Persona are important third-party releases for Sony, and I think they're still willing to invest into those series.

The rest of Atlus' pipeline is a bigger question. At least one of their teams has been getting used to Unreal Engine 5 development, thanks to Shin Megami Tensei V. If that becomes their go-to engine, then multiplatform development will become the way to go for them, unless moneyhats are involved.
Well, the thing is, unlike Falcom which was all in on PlayStation and PlayStation only (while avoiding any semblance of a cohesive global release strategy, and so therefore getting the bulk of their sales in Japan), Atlus is more diversified, and their eggs are across Nintendo and PlayStation (and always have been). So Atlus doesn't have to worry as much, particularly since as you noted, they get far more of their sales globally, and they are apparently working on global launches now, and they have already started to dabble with multiplatform launches. I wouldn't compare Atlus to Falcom for a multitude of reasons.

As far as Unreal Engine goes, Team Maniax (and by extension the EO team too) are now on UE4, and P-Studio was hiring for people with Unreal Engine support as well. My assumption would be all teams except Studio Zero will be on UE4; Hashino will want to stick with his own engine.
 
SMTV had some references to PS4 in the codebase at launch that got scrubbed out, that suggests that a belated PS4 release for the game may be on the cards,
I'm not entirely sure I follow this logic. Wouldn't scrubbing the references indicate that a PS version isn't planned? Especially if the PC ones were left in. There are quite a few 3rd parties games that Nintendo has published, from multiple publishers, that are still console exclusive, or at the very least are not on Playstation (Octopath Traveler, Bravely Default 2, Daemon X Machina, etc).
 
I'm not entirely sure I follow this logic. Wouldn't scrubbing the references indicate that a PS version isn't planned? Especially if the PC ones were left in. There are quite a few 3rd parties games that Nintendo has published, from multiple 3rd parties, that are still console exclusive, or at the very least are not on Playstation (Octopath Traveler, Bravely Default 2, Daemon X Machina, etc).
It does, I agree, and I think it will come to PC, but not PS4. But I wanted to mention it for the sake of completion.
 
Unless it's paid for, I'd expect Atlus on Nintendo/PlayStation multiplats (with Steam ports for western launch) from here on out.
 
It does, I agree, and I think it will come to PC, but not PS4. But I wanted to mention it for the sake of completion.
I'm not entirely convinced we'll see a PC port in a timely fashion, but I'm sure it'll make it's way there eventually. In fact, I think as long as Sony keeps Persona under lock, Nintendo will do the same with SMT, especially in light of how involved they were with V.

On a personal level though, I would love a Trauma Team collection for Switch where I can use the touch screen to sew my sutures. I don't think it'll happen though and we'll only see EO return.
 
I'm not entirely convinced we'll see a PC port in a timely fashion, but I'm sure it'll make it's way there eventually. In fact, I think as long as Sony keeps Persona under lock, Nintendo will do the same with SMT, especially in light of how involved they were with V.

On a personal level though, I would love a Trauma Team collection for Switch where I can use the touch screen to sew my sutures. I don't think it'll happen though and we'll only see EO return.
I think Nintendo is far less aggressive about console exclusives going to PC than Sony is, I dunno. Bravely Default, Rune Factory 4, Octopath, Travis Strikes Again + NMH1/2, DxM, all announced and released for PC in under a year after their Switch release; I am sure SMTV will go to PC sooner rather than later.
 
I was considering doing a thread like this that talked about Sega more generally, but didn’t pull the trigger on it. Lots of super-interesting things happening at Sega right now.
However, one monumental difference between Falcom and Atlus is that a much bigger share of their sales and revenue come from outside Asia, where PlayStation is still a very successful brand. This means they're less reliant on Japan and they can 'afford' to stay focused on PlayStation for a longer time than Falcom. Furthermore, due to the sheer sales volume of Persona 5 and Persona 5 Royal, I would say they're a much more interesting partner for Sony, who could cover a part of the development cost in exchange for (timed) exclusivity or exclusive marketing.
The only issue with this line of thinking is that, while PlayStation is more popular outside of Japan, it’s very difficult to suggest it’s the most popular platform holder. NPD paints a picture of a different platform commanding a major sales momentum in North America for nearly the past 3 years, even beating out recently-released next-gen consoles in sales for all but a single month since their release.

So Atlus has 3 choices:
  1. Choose the platform that is flagging in Japan
  2. Choose the best-selling platform in BOTH of the largest sales regions for console games
  3. Choose to have it both ways and pursue a multi-platform strategy
Option 1 only looks enticing if Sony cuts a pretty substantial cheque, as the benefits of options 2 and especially option 3 would have to be completely outweighed by the dollar figure on that cheque.

So the question ultimately becomes: How much is Persona exclusivity actually worth to Sony, when you consider how much NOT being exclusive is worth to Atlus?
 
EO IV was the foundation of about a dozen games on the 3DS. I don't think SMT V after playing it is exactly the same as it would take a ton more effort to make a bunch of psuedo open worlds based on the same tech unless you had Assassin's Creed money. We'll see if and when EO VI comes out if it will lead to a pile of Dungeon Crawlers.

I can basically guarantee an SMT V Apocalypse though.
 
So the question ultimately becomes: How much is Persona exclusivity actually worth to Sony, when you consider how much NOT being exclusive is worth to Atlus?
Is asked that in the other thread and I had really hoped someone might know: what is the ballpark we're talking here when it comes to Sony paying for Persona 5 and now Persona 6 exclusivity? I have no idea honestly. 50 mio? 100 mio? 150? 200? More? Ofc, nobody knows, but I figured some of you might have enough industry experience to gauge it a little.

Would be good for future debate (and nobody who gives an educated guess holds any responsibility, ofc).
 
Sometimes might not just be a direct payment like that, but also involving the share Sony takes from sales (30% for digital if I'm not wrong, not sure about physical if it's even a fixed % in the first place), which could revert back to Atlus. So basically the value would change depending on how much they sell, etc.

I think it was Matt from Era who once mentioned deals like this existing.
 
Regarding P6, I think the franchise staying on PS is a lock. PC release at most. A Switch version would be a pleasant surprise, but it seems unlikely. The one i'm most interest though is Project Re:Fantasy. Will it be a PS4/Switch game? Or just PS4/5?
 
If Persona 6 goes PS5 exclusive then I have to wonder if creative and release strategies change with them to be geared to a western audience like other Japanese IP like Final Fantasy. Right now the series has 6 month to year long gaps before they arrive overseas, and the settings and storylines are built with a Japanese perspective in mind. There's also the multimedia aspect of the series that Atlus will need to be mindful of if their fanbase shrinks domestically.

In a sense, it feels like Persona's devotion to Japan and to Playstation are incongruous to each other and one of them will have to give. Making a Japanese oriented Persona for everywhere but Japan just seems like an oxymoron.

Either way it's interesting to think about. Just like the earlier Nier conversation on this forum, there's definite benefit to Sony to make exclusive such a key 3rd party game of the PS4 generation.
 
Sometimes might not just be a direct payment like that, but also involving the share Sony takes from sales (30% for digital if I'm not wrong, not sure about physical if it's even a fixed % in the first place), which could revert back to Atlus. So basically the value would change depending on how much they sell, etc.

I think it was Matt from Era who once mentioned deals like this existing.
A payment is a payment, be it in the form of a direct payment or, based on your description, a "payment in kind". Still costs Sony money, be it a fixed amount or something variable based on the terms of that payment in kind.
Is asked that in the other thread and I had really hoped someone might know: what is the ballpark we're talking here when it comes to Sony paying for Persona 5 and now Persona 6 exclusivity? I have no idea honestly. 50 mio? 100 mio? 150? 200? More? Ofc, nobody knows, but I figured some of you might have enough industry experience to gauge it a little.

Would be good for future debate (and nobody who gives an educated guess holds any responsibility, ofc).
All we can do is try an estimated calculation of what the other options are valued at, taking the predicted sales they would likely lose if not following a multi-platform strategy or release on a Nintendo platform, multiplied by the typical amount earned per copy sold after royalties, manufacturing, retailer cuts, etc. but BEFORE development costs or marketing are deducted.

But first and foremost, you'd want to at least calculate what Persona's Japanese sales USED to be worth before the recent major decline of PlayStation in Japan (I'd average out the sales of P3 through P5 to get that value, personally), because those are numbers that require far less guessing and outright speculation to get and provides a bare minimum baseline.

So I guess the calculation for that is: E = (A × R) × D%
(where A = the average Japanese sales of a Persona title; R = the revenue generated by each copy sold; D = the average or estimated % decline in software sales across Sony platforms; solving for E to get the rough bare minimum value of exclusivity)

So if anyone's got the numbers to pump into that calculation, we would at least have a decent starting point to work with, in my mind.
 
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When talking about Persona, in particular, any sort of exclusivity agreement would have to factor in Atlus’ multimedia approach: Plays, anime, drama cds, merch, etc. So the loss of potential sales is a piece of the whole. I imagine that this is a concern due to PlayStation’s near erasure from the market. If the software situation doesn’t pick up, I doubt any of big up and coming games are going to do much in this regard, then any sort of exclusive agreement is going to be expensive. There are other incentives to like Sony taking care of the anime and what not. But, if the situation doesn’t pick up then does Atlus try their multimedia in a weakened position or perhaps try their luck overseas with that. Going to be interesting to see what is in store there.
 
Even Falcom is changing its strategy from PS exclusive to multiplatform now, which is something I didn't expect at all. I wouldn't be surprised if things have changed for Atlus too.

However, one monumental difference between Falcom and Atlus is that a much bigger share of their sales and revenue come from outside Asia, where PlayStation is still a very successful brand. This means they're less reliant on Japan and they can 'afford' to stay focused on PlayStation for a longer time than Falcom. Furthermore, due to the sheer sales volume of Persona 5 and Persona 5 Royal, I would say they're a much more interesting partner for Sony, who could cover a part of the development cost in exchange for (timed) exclusivity or exclusive marketing.

Sony may be less focused on the Japanese market now, but I think they understand that the audience for Japanese games is big enough in the west that they don't want to lose that. Final Fantasy, the different Dragon Ball games, Dark Souls, Tekken and also Persona are important third-party releases for Sony, and I think they're still willing to invest into those series.

The rest of Atlus' pipeline is a bigger question. At least one of their teams has been getting used to Unreal Engine 5 development, thanks to Shin Megami Tensei V. If that becomes their go-to engine, then multiplatform development will become the way to go for them, unless moneyhats are involved.
Yeah. Sony might not care about the Japanese market, but they certainly want to lock down Japanese games to differentiate themselves from Microsoft and compete against Nintendo in the west. I would still be annoyed if SMTV goes multiplatform first though
 
Well, the thing is, unlike Falcom which was all in on PlayStation and PlayStation only (while avoiding any semblance of a cohesive global release strategy, and so therefore getting the bulk of their sales in Japan), Atlus is more diversified, and their eggs are across Nintendo and PlayStation (and always have been). So Atlus doesn't have to worry as much, particularly since as you noted, they get far more of their sales globally, and they are apparently working on global launches now, and they have already started to dabble with multiplatform launches. I wouldn't compare Atlus to Falcom for a multitude of reasons.

As far as Unreal Engine goes, Team Maniax (and by extension the EO team too) are now on UE4, and P-Studio was hiring for people with Unreal Engine support as well. My assumption would be all teams except Studio Zero will be on UE4; Hashino will want to stick with his own engine.
Thanks for the clarification. Looks like they're going for a multiplatform strategy with most of their teams then. Like I said, that doesn't rule out timed exclusivity deals in exchange for marketing support and/or minimum revenue guarantees, but it shows that the strict split between Nintendo franchises and PlayStation franchises seems to be fading away.

The only issue with this line of thinking is that, while PlayStation is more popular outside of Japan, it’s very difficult to suggest it’s the most popular platform holder. NPD paints a picture of a different platform commanding a major sales momentum in North America for nearly the past 3 years, even beating out recently-released next-gen consoles in sales for all but a single month since their release.
What I meant to say is that it's easier for them to strike deals with platformholders.
About the market leader thing: does it matter? It only becomes a problem if the negative impact on the business to go (timed) exclusive is too big. But that's what minimum revenue guarantees are for. How else do you think publishers decide to take on deals with Google Stadia and Epic Games Store (and not cancel them) and other platforms that won't have a sufficient audience in a million years? There's a ton of publishers who have timed exclusivity deals with Microsoft, despite them not being the market leader. So I wouldn't say Sony not being the market leader is a huge problem, as long as the benefits of the deal outweigh the negatives. And that's a matter of risk mitigation, for both sides, which is why exclusivity deals are usually not perpetual anymore and also why platformholders love to work with income guarantees instead of lump sums.
 
What I meant to say is that it's easier for them to strike deals with platformholders.
About the market leader thing: does it matter? It only becomes a problem if the negative impact on the business to go (timed) exclusive is too big. But that's what minimum revenue guarantees are for. How else do you think publishers decide to take on deals with Google Stadia and Epic Games Store (and not cancel them) and other platforms that won't have a sufficient audience in a million years? There's a ton of publishers who have timed exclusivity deals with Microsoft, despite them not being the market leader. So I wouldn't say Sony not being the market leader is a huge problem, as long as the benefits of the deal outweigh the negatives. And that's a matter of risk mitigation, for both sides, which is why exclusivity deals are usually not perpetual anymore and also why platformholders love to work with income guarantees instead of lump sums.
It seems highly likely that it could be, that's the point that I made in the rest of the post you quoted and the follow-up I made. The question ultimately becomes whether Sony and Atlus can come to terms with the franchise diminishing in Japan and what they sacrifice by foregoing a multi-platform strategy at a time when the franchise is at an all-time high in its popularity worldwide, especially in places where the market is far more dispersed across multiple platforms.

Also, it's worth noting that minimum revenue guarantees grossly advantage the platform holder over the publisher in some circumstances (because the platform holder could end up walking away without paying a dime for an exclusive unless the revenue guarantee is in addition to a flat-rate payment of some kind), so they aren't a silver bullet in negotiations for anyone.

As it is, should the situation of Persona 5 not coming to Switch be the result of an in-perpetuity exclusivity contract they signed for it, Atlus is probably kicking themselves for signing it because, even with a minimum revenue guarantee, they likely lost out because that guaranteed amount was undoubtedly smaller than it could have been in hindsight, even leaving any other platform out of the picture. Sometimes, a high negotiated flat rate for exclusivity is preferable to publishers.
I have to wonder if they considered the exclusivity of SMTV as a mistake on similar grounds.

All in all, the negative impacts of going into an exclusivity contract for Persona 6, even with timed exclusivity in mind, are going to look awfully large compared to what they were back when P5 was in development. And since we're dealing with projections and not empirically-provable lost revenue opportunities, Atlus can (and very well may) value their flexibility to capitalize on their franchise's most recent dramatic increase in popularity at a higher rate than Sony is willing to pay.
 
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As it is, should the situation of Persona 5 not coming to Switch be the result of an in-perpetuity exclusivity contract they signed for it, Atlus is probably kicking themselves for signing it because, even with a minimum revenue guarantee, they likely lost out because that guaranteed amount was undoubtedly smaller than it could have been in hindsight, even leaving any other platform out of the picture. Sometimes, a high negotiated flat rate for exclusivity is preferable to publishers.
I have to wonder if they considered the exclusivity of SMTV as a mistake on similar grounds.
I agree. While they couldn't have known in advance that the Switch would be such a behemoth, it still doesn't change the fact that they ended up higher opportunity costs. The exclusivity contract was definitely a benefit to both parties, but the problem rests on how long it lasts. Perhaps they learned from that and made adjustments to the SMTV deal, which is why string codes for PC and PS4 (latter later removed) were datamined from the game. The exclusivity window might be a lot shorter for SMTV compared to any mainline Persona games.

Though I do have to wonder if they learned their lessons with Persona 6. Would they try to shorten the exclusivity window or bargain for higher payment? If they did so for SMTV and not Persona 6, then I would consider that bad business practice. I think Atlus should be smart enough to do both, make it only 1 year exclusivity at most and ask for a higher flat rate. Sony's the one with less bargaining power here considering Persona can pretty much succeed on any platform that isn't Xbox (unfortunately). It's still crazy how Persona 4 was pretty much exclusive for 12 years until Golden got released on PC. Feels bad when you think about how Microsoft paid SE 100m for a meager 1 year exclusivity for Tomb Raider, while Sony probably didn't even pay 1/8th the amount for 12 years of exclusivity for Persona 4 (one is AAA, and the other is smaller in scope but the difference is still surprising). It makes me really curious about all these backdoor dealings and how crazy things can get.
 
Actually now that SMTV is done I wonder if 1st Production group will split back into 3 divisions (Team Manix, CareerSoft, SQ Project) or continue on as one larger team the way 2nd Production group (P-Studio) operates?
 
Actually now that SMTV is done I wonder if 1st Production group will split back into 3 divisions (Team Manix, CareerSoft, SQ Project) or continue on as one larger team the way 2nd Production group (P-Studio) operates?
CareerSoft hasn't been a thing for years. I don't see Shinjiro Takada going back to direct anytime soon. He's the manager or producer on everything their 1st Production group does now. Pretty sure it's just the Tokyo Mirage Sessions and Team Maniax teams in 1st production at the moment, with the EO team mostly being absorbed by the latter. But what happen to the TMS team after that was done is the question, I'm sure we'll be seeing their game(s) next.
 
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CareerSoft hasn't been a thing for years. I don't see Shinjiro Takada going back to direct anytime soon. Pretty sure it's just the Tokyo Mirage Sessions and Team Maniax teams in 1st production right now, with the EO team mostly being absorbed by the latter.
I just use the name as shorthand for the DeSu /TMS team, I know Careersoft was formally dissolved like a decade ago when Index sold Atlus. I'm pretty sure the other teams haven't used those names in around a decade too.
 
I just use the name as shorthand for the DeSu /TMS team, I know Careersoft was formally dissolved like a decade ago when Index sold Atlus. I'm pretty sure the other teams haven't used those names in around a decade too.
Team Maniax is definitely still a thing, but CareerSoft is too old to refer back to in a meaningful way at this point imo. I think the question is what are the directors from TMS working on. What are Eiji Ishida (Strange Journey, Tokyo Mirage Sessions) and Mitsuru Hirata (Radiant Historia, Tokyo Mirage Sessions) working on?
 
Team Maniax is definitely still a thing, but CareerSoft is too old to refer back to in a meaningful way at this point imo. I think the question is what are the directors from TMS working on. What are Eiji Ishida (Strange Journey, Tokyo Mirage Sessions) and Mitsuru Hirata (Radiant Historia, Tokyo Mirage Sessions) working on?
I don't believe 1P uses the name internally anymore and haven't really since the PS2/DS era. It's not on any PR, accounts or official releases either afaik, it's mostly just fans (and fansites) using it now.

This is different from 2P (P-Studio) and 3P (Studio Zero) that both use those names and even have official branding.
 
I don't believe 1P uses the name internally anymore and haven't really since the PS2/DS era. It's not on any PR, accounts or official releases either afaik, it's mostly just fans (and fansites) using it now.

This is different from 2P (P-Studio) and 3P (Studio Zero) that both use those names and even have official branding.
You seem to be fixated on this. If you don't wish to refer to the SMT team as Team Maniax as they are still colloquially called (even today) stemming from that internal name that was never used in PR, that's fine. I don't have a problem with whether or not people want to use "Team Maniax". But I will still have to continue to strongly disagree with using CareerSoft as a shorthand for the TMS team, this is what I have an issue with. That may have still been somewhat appropriate for the original Devil Survivor, but when the remnants Shinjiro Takada's old Growlanser team barely make up a fraction of those who worked on TMS it really does not add insightful meaning to the conversation of where this team, as it exists withing the 1st production in recent years, are going.
 
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You seem to be fixated on this. If you don't wish to refer to the SMT team as Team Maniax as they are still colloquially called (even today) stemming from that internal name that was never used in PR, that's fine. I don't have a problem with whether or not people want to use "Team Maniax". But I will still have to continue to strongly disagree with using CareerSoft as a shorthand for the TMS team, this is what I have an issue with. That may have still been somewhat appropriate for the original Devil Survivor, but when the remnants Shinjiro Takada's old Growlanser team barely make up a fraction of those who worked on TMS it really does not add insightful meaning to the conversation of where this team, as it exists withing the 1st production in recent years, are going.
I'm fine with not using the old names, it was just shorthand anyway to refer to the 3DS era divisions. I'm just pointing out they're all basically retired now. I haven't seen SQ Project since the DS days either really.
 
I'm fine with not using the old names, it was just shorthand anyway to refer to the 3DS era divisions. I'm just pointing out they're all basically retired now. I haven't seen SQ Project since the DS days either really.
I agree, but I'm not trying to be pedantic for the sake of it. SQ Project still works for really any team making Etrian Odyssey, the Sekaiju no MeiQ project team. That series has such an interesting development history as well. Anyway, I'm going on a tangent now. Just saying I don't believe saying SQ Project has a negative impact on having an insightful conversation the way saying CareerSoft does. I really never saw CareerSoft being used much since the DS days but beyond that its usage had definitely become archaic.
 
I assume their production pipeline is:

1- Team dedicated to SMT. Currently developing PC, PS4/5 ports and an extension of current SMTV
2- Team dedicated to mainline Persona. Full hands on Persona 6.
3- Team developing Re: Fantasy
4- etrian odyssey team, currently developing next entry
5- team dedicated on porting old persona games (3, 4 and maybe 5?) to current consoles (PS4, Switch, PC).

I assume the first 3 teams are the biggest, while the second two are relative small.

Btw, I assumed their new games will always have long marketing cycles. Can we expect a 2 year gap between their big productions? Like

2023: Re: Fantasy
2024: SMTV Expansion (please this be a DLC)
2025: Persona 6
2026: Re:Fantasy Expansion
2027: SMTVI or their next proyect.
 
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SMT5 over performed (Atlus expressed satisfaction at the game's sales), with global sales of 800,000 in just six weeks (a 133% increase over the previous series record)
Nitpick, but wouldn't that be more like a ~33% increase over previous high?
I.e. 600k => 800k

Also I dunno about "over performed" just yet. I know they said "satisfied", but I want Atlus and Sega to be *super happy* w/ reception 😆

As always, tanks for the efforts with the thread.

If I had to OTOH nutshell Atlus strategy past three console cycles it feels like:

Persona mainline ? => playstation

VanillaWare? => Playstation ... And now switch

Everything else? => Current Nintendo portable
 
Is there significant evidence pointing towards Refantasy being a real video game and not just something they have low resources dedicated to for a long time?
What I find so curious is how both project re:fantasy and Monolith Soft's mysterious medieval ip were "announced" many years ago, both afaik supposed to be big, ambitious projects, both seemingly going for classic fantasy setting with a more serious tone, and even the artwork looks a little similar, especially that heroine from re:fantasy could fit right into the environment art of the Monolith Soft-artworks. And one is now nearing its release, while the other could as well also be close to release or not exist at all.

I don't know where I'm going with that, but it's just ... curios to me :>
 
Is there significant evidence pointing towards Refantasy being a real video game and not just something they have low resources dedicated to for a long time?
I’d say the fact that an entire production unit exists to make it (and is probably the staff that got pinched to assist on SMTV, though I just remember hearing that staff was roped in to finish SMTV), it’s hard to argue it’s got “low resources”. Payroll is expensive to keep paying for vapourware.
 
Thanks for the replies, i'm not familiar with the internal workings of Atlus, but that game had strong Final Fantasy Versus XIII/Bayoneta 3 vibes.
 
These days any new “ambitious” project, unless its a direct sequel, can take +5 years.

Lets say Re: Fantasy started development in 2017 and plans to be released by 2023, 6 years of development isn’t really strange. (This is assuming this is a big scoope game).
 
I've compiled a list of the "major" designers and artists that have worked on SMT games over the past decade in this sheet below. It lists all the Maniax and CareerSoft teams' games, alongside the people that worked on them. If someone didn't work on a particular game, there is a yellow cell that indicates what other stuff they were doing at the same. (I recommend opening the sheet in a new tab.)




A few interesting things to note:

1. It isn't just Komori (director) that worked on SMT5, but a ton of Etrian Odyssey people. A lot of the world design appears to be by the EO folks.

2. A lot of folks that worked on SMT4 and other major SMT games didn't work on SMT5 (at least, not in a major capacity). Eiji Ishida, Yuki Sakamoto, Makoto Miyauchi, Yusuke Miyata, Shinji Yamamoto. A whole lot of map planners that worked on SMT4 didn't return for 5 either.

3. Eiji Ishida (who directed SMT:SJ and TMS#FE said back in 2018 that he wanted to work on a more slice-of-life style game or a game that takes place in hell after SJ Redux. Since he wasn't involved with SMT5 in a major capacity, it's possible he's behind the "pillar title" they're teasing for 2022.

4. With so many Etrian Odyssey veterans having worked on major portions of SMT5, it begs the question of who's working on the next EO game. We know it's still in development because they said as much back in July.
 
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Thank you @Ishaan for compiling the names of these staff, although I don't know if you're just being cheeky by using CareerSoft again. The Devil Survivor games are not officially credited to them and as everyone can see from Devil Survivor 2 they brought on a lot of new staff, so it really doesn't make sense to use this name anymore for them. Takada was the biggest connection and now he's overseeing all 1st production games and TMS is definitely not a CareerSoft game. Anyway, I hope people will finally see how much of the EO team worked on SMTV now, that has been falling on deaf ears sometimes when I bring it up. I am also interested in finding out what Eiji Ishida and the missing SMT4 vets are working on.

Also one thing to note about Shinjiro Takada, he was credited as the Production Manager of SMTV. I don't think there's a 1st Production game you won't find him credited for going forward at this point. I think you just missed that one. I think it's important to note though since the recent aspirations article that everyone has been talking about lately includes a quote from Takada where he spoke about finishing SMTV and he's the one that told us about an announcement coming in 2022.
 
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Thank you @Ishaan for compiling the names of these staff, although I don't know if you're just being cheeky by using CareerSoft again. The Devil Survivor games are not officially credited to them and as everyone can see from Devil Survivor 2 they bought on a lot of new staff, so it really doesn't make sense to use this name anymore for them. Takada was the biggest connection and now he's overseeing all 1st production games and TMS is definitely not a CareerSoft game. Anyway, I hope people will finally see how much of the EO team worked on SMTV now, that has been falling on deaf ears sometimes when I bring it up. I am also interested in finding out what Eiji Ishida and the missing SMT4 vets are working on.

Also one thing to note about Shinjiro Takada, he was credited as the Production Manager of SMTV. I don't think there's a 1st Production game you won't find him credited for going forward at this point. I think you just missed that one. I think it's important to note though since the recent aspirations article that everyone has been talking about lately includes a quote from Takada where he spoke about finishing SMTV and he's the one that told us about an announcement coming in 2022.

Ah, yeah. I just forgot to include the SMTV credit next to Takada's section. Thanks for pointing that out. And yeah, I'm aware Takada is the person that teased the 2022 pillar title. :)
 
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