Atlus Co., Ltd. is a Japanese entertainment brand best known for developing and publishing the role-playing series Shin Megami Tensei and its numerous spin-offs. The brand Atlus was incorporated by three different companies, and as of September 2013, Atlus is a subsidiary of Sega. The corporate mascot is Jack Frost, designed by illustrator Kazuma Kaneko, from Megami Tensei II.
The first company that incorporated the Atlus brand was founded in April 1986 as a video game developer and publisher. Outside of the video game industry, this company was involved in amusement and karaoke equipment. The company created their first arcade game in 1992 called BlaZeon. In 1997, Atlus entered the Tokyo Stock Exchange and acquired Apies from Yubis Corporation in 1999. In 2001, Atlus had to restructure the company through a management buyout because they suffered a deficit during the period of 1999 and 2000. In October 2001, Atlus acquired Career Soft as an established subsidiary for the company. Over time, the brand was eventually dissolved while the Career Soft workforce integrated into Atlus. In October 2003, Japanese toy company Takara acquired Atlus as their video game subsidiary.
The second company to incorporate the Atlus brand was Index Corporation. In October 2006, Index Holdings announced that they would be acquiring Atlus through a share purchase from Takara, with Atlus being subsidized into Index Holdings in November 2006. In August 2010, Index Holdings merged by absorbing the Atlus company, with Index Holdings being the surviving entity, and being renamed as Index Corporation, while Atlus as a legal company was dissolved while its brand remained. From 2010 until 2013, Atlus did not exist as a company, rather, as a label to promote video games by Index Corporation. In June 2013, Index Corporation filed civil rehabilitation proceedings for facing bankruptcy with debt. The Index Corporation video game branding under the name Atlus was legally dissolved after Index Corporation’s business management was taken over.
The third and current company to incorporate the Atlus brand was the shell company called Sega Dream Corporation. In September 2013, Sega acquired Index Corporation to take over the company’s assets and management. Through acquiring Index Corporation, Sega acquired the Atlus brand. Sega created the shell corporation called Sega Dream Corporation in order to absorb all of Index Corporation assets without taking over any of the liabilities of the bankrupt company. Sega Dream Corporation was renamed as Index Corporation (which was legally unaffiliated with the bankrupt company of the same name). In February 2014, Sega executed a corporate spin-off in which Index Corporation’s contents and solutions business was established as a separate subsidiary from the video game company it derived from. The content and solution business was named as Index Corporation, while the former Index Corporation was renamed as Atlus. In April 2017, Sega Sammy Holdings announced that they would be relocating Atlus into Sega Sammy’s headquarters. The purpose of this is to gather all of the key Sega Sammy subsidiaries into a singular building in order to strengthen collaboration between the various subsidiaries, and to have more direct communication with the key figures of each subsidiary.
Atlus USA, Inc.
Atlus USA, Inc. is the North American regional subsidiary for Atlus located in Irvine, California. They publish games from their parent company and also publish games from legally unaffiliated Japanese publishers such as Aquaplus, Quest and Sting Entertainment for the North American market. In August 2017, Atlus opened a European distribution team located in London to publish all its titles for the European market. In 2019 Atlus USA, Inc. changed their public brand name to Atlus West.
Atlus USA was incorporated in January 1991 under the name Atlus Software, however, the company was also known as Asuka Technologies. Eventually, the company used the branding Atlus USA in order to emphasize the entity's distinction between its parent company, and its publishing duties of localizing games not developed or published by Atlus. Once Atlus was dissolved into Index Corporation, Atlus USA was legally rebranded as Index Digital Media as Atlus was only a brand name for video games by Index Corporation from 2010 until 2014. Once Sega acquired Index Corporation’s assets and absorbed them into Sega Dream Corporation, Index Digital Media was acquired alongside Index Corporation, and in February 2014, Index Digital Media was legally renamed back to Atlus USA, as Atlus was re-incorporated as a legal entity through Sega Dream Corporation. Atlus USA was re-organized and currently functions as a subsidiary for Sega of America. Despite the merging of Sega and Atlus publishing operations, Atlus USA operates with a standalone publishing schedule from Sega of America.