Tri-Ace, developer of JRPG classic Star Ocean, has been acquired by Nepro Japan, a mobile device development corporation. Likely, this is driven by an initiative to expand their mobile game creation studios and stable of IPs.
Nepro Japan is liable to use the talent and properties of Tri-Ace to partner with it’s own studio, Mobile & Games Studio, to create cell phone and tablet games to increase sales of their products. The likelihood that the new owners understand or appreciate the console market or the historical value of their conquest, beyond exploitative profiteering, is slim to none.
To anyone who has followed the declining recent history of venerable Japanese development studios, this is not a new tune. From pachinko machines to mobile devices, to the bankruptcy of Index, owner of Atlus, Japanese development has trended toward casual and mobile gaming for years now, and left many revered titles and studios behind. It seems that Star Ocean is the latest victim in this pattern, and as such any western fans can very likely stop hoping for any sequels coming out this side of a Japanese cell phone.
The massive success of the game Puzzle & Dragons, the eastern equivalent to Candy Crush, several years ago has sent profit-minded CEOs scrambling to prioritize their mobile development above all else. Echoes from this trend still reverberate today, with such mobile and ‘social’ game sales and profits overshadowing traditional mobile gaming for the majority of the populace.
Tri-Ace were the developers of Star Ocean and Valkyrie Profile, as well as numerous other less-known titles. Only one of their products have been sold outside of Japan since 2011 though, the much-maligned Lighting Returns: Final Fantasy XIII. Given this, and the news concerning their present state of ownership, it’s likely this is the final nail in the coffin for any anticipated properties showing up in America or Europe.