Elden Ring, The Dark Pictures publisher says studio acquisitions can hurt “smaller publishers”

Smaller publishers are facing the most problems.

Image via FromSoftware

Studio acquisitions have become the power play for many publishers over the last few years. Recently, Embracer Group scooped up Crystal Dynamics, Eidos-Montreal, and Square Enix Montreal when Square Enix sold off its western studios. Xbox’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard for nearly $70 billion is still a landmark deal. These business moves are commonplace, but according to Bandai Namco, they can also cause problems.

Arnaud Muller, COO of Bandai Namco Europe, spoke to GI.Biz about these concerns. Essentially, publishers need to protect the games they are working on with developers, lest they lose ownership when acquisitions happen. “When we invest in IP creation, we also have to keep in mind that we have to get some sort of security towards the future of the studio that develops this IP, if the IP doesn’t belong to us,” Muller explained. “This spread of acquisition that we’re seeing is affecting some of the smaller publishers in their capacity to access the best studios in the world.” That makes sense: for example, no one but Microsoft can publish a Bethesda game now that it’s a first-party Xbox studio.

Bandai Namco isn’t as small as some other publishers out there. After all, it has Elden Ring, one of the best-selling games of all time. But it’s not immune to complications caused by acquisitions. Bandai Namco is publishing The Dark Pictures Anthology, but developer Supermassive Games was acquired by Nordisk earlier this year. Bandai Namco’s publishing deal is unaffected by this, but it’s easy to see how a smaller company could have gotten screwed.

Speaking of The Dark Pictures, the next game to be published by Namco Bandai is The Devil in Me, the latest entry in the franchise. It’s releasing on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, and PC on November 18. It looks to be the series’ most fully featured game in the latest Gamescom trailer.