Atlus Parent Company Index Investigated For Fraud, Files For Bankruptcy
Atlus has quickly become a powerhouse in the gaming world, bringing unique and clever titles to North American shores. The publisher is largely responsible for a renaissance of interest in traditional roleplaying games. Now, that legacy is in jeopardy.
Atlus' parent company, Index Holdings, has filed for "rehabilitation" (a form of bankruptcy) due to approximately 24.5 billion yen ($249 million) of outstanding debt. All corporate code is complex, but Japan's rehabilitation process is streamlined. Without going to far into the weeds, here are the details:
- Debtor management can stay on to formulate a plan for recovery or liquidation
- An interested party can prove management incompetence, leading to the appointment of a trustee to manage the process
- There is no shareholder vote on a debt management plan(something that can bog down bankruptcies in the United States)
- Creditors do get to vote on the plan
- Rehabilitation typically takes about six months (in comparison to full corporate reorganization which takes approximately two years)
All of this would largely be good news for Atlus (and gamers) if it weren't for allegations of fraud levied against Index Holdings. According to Japan's NHK (via Crunchyroll), the company has been accused of inflating sales figures by way of illegitimate business transactions. This process, known as "window dressing" or round-tripping (selling to another company under an agreement to buy back the exact same number of units at the identical price) made it seem like far more copies were moved.
Additionally, company president and CEO Yoshimi Ochiai and board chairman Masami Ochiai have expressed interest in departing the company. Whether this will necessitate a trustee for the rehabilitation is unknown.
As for Atlus, a sale seems to be a logical assumption. How this will affect the publisher's localization efforts, it's trend of bonuses included in first-run copies, and the general fabric of roleplaying games in the West is a matter that only time will uncover. Atlus topped our list of Japanese RPG publishers to watch, and we hope they continue to have a place on it moving forward.