Atlus is a developer and publisher in Japan and the U.S. and best known for its Shin Megami Tensei Series and its numerous spin-offs like the Persona-series.
Oprainfall already did a publisher spotlight with regards to the history, their titles, etc. So this article will focus on their localization and publishing. And those are, quite contrary to their great line-up of games, rather poor…
Every time Atlus Japan announces a new title it should be a time to celebrate and to eagerly anticipate the inevitable western release, but regrettably there isn’t any reason for a European JRPG fan to be overjoyed. While most titles make their way to the U.S., it’s a different story for Europe, since Atlus doesn’t have a European branch. That means if a game gets released here, another Publisher has to do the job. But Atlus manages to pick a different publisher for almost every game that actually finds its way to Europe:
- Persona 4 Golden: NIS America
- Persona 4 Arena: Zen United & pQube
- Devil Survivor Overclocked: Ghostlight
- Code of Princess: Agatsuma Entertainment
- King of Fighters XIII: Rising Star Games
- Catherine: Deep Silver
- And so on…
There are several consequences. That Europe doesn’t get any discounts on PSN or bundle-offers of Atlus games very often is just an example for a smaller one. But there are several bigger ones as well which impact all European fans:
- Long waiting times: The games are already completely localized but it often takes months or even years until they are finally coming out in Europe. Additionally some publishers delay those titles multiple times.
- No pre-order bonuses: Pre-ordering King of Fighters XIII would have gotten you a 4-disc Soundtrack, Code of Princess the Soundtrack and an art-book, the same for Etrian Odyssey IV, etc. if you were an U.S.-citizen. Nothing similar for the European market.
- Digital only: While some games also get released in Europe, it doesn’t mean that we’re also necessarily are going to see a retail release. An example for this would be Code of Princess, which is only available as a digital download version in Europe – or a retail release with pre-order bonuses in the U.S.
- Bugs: Despite not getting any of the pre-order bonuses or even a physical copy every now and then and long waiting times, we sometimes get game breaking bugs in our versions which weren’t present in the U.S. version.
- Not all of them: Not every Atlus game published in the U.S. is also getting published in Europe. Examples would be Etrian Odyssey 2-3, probably Devil Survivor 2, etc.
As if it wasn’t bad enough already there are also the following points to consider:
- No dual-audio: Since Atlus’ U.S. branch is entirely focused on the North American market, none of the above mentioned games, with the sole exception of Persona 4 Arena, features dual-audio. But this also means that the European versions won’t feature any dual-audio either since they are based on the U.S. versions.
- Region-locking everywhere: All the points mentioned above about the by far inferior European releases wouldn’t be such a big deal if it were just possible to import and play the North American versions. But many recent Atlus games are 3DS games and those are always region-locked. Furthermore even the usually region-free platforms such as the PS3 get region-locked by Atlus, they were even the first (and so far only ones) to ever do this!
- No European branch: Another easy solution would be an European Atlus branch which releases the same games in the same manner as the U.S. branch. But Atlus has no intention to do this.
In conclusion: If you are an European JRPG fan, save yourself a lot of trouble and disappointments and avoid all Atlus titles at any cost. And if you really want to play Persona 5 one day, wait until it’s in the bargain bin because the European version won’t be worh full price.