By Paul Kainoa Vigil / March 10th, 2015
It wasn’t even a full month ago that we heard that Japanese independent development outfit tri-Ace was acquired by Nepro Japan. Speculation about tri-Ace’s future plans were dim; official statements suggested Nepro Japan hoped to use tri-Ace’s strengths to bolster their mobile game development efforts, with no comment on tri-Ace returning to non-mobile platform development.
Recently, Nepro Japan issued a press statement that offers some hope for fans of tri-Ace’s work thus far. The above diagram articulates Nepro Japan’s thoughts on their two subsidiaries’ strengths (tri-Ace is one, Mobile & Game Studio is the other). The left and right columns under each studio can be used to suggest “up until now” and “in the future.” The three rows beneath stand for three different game development spaces: Arcade, Consumer (this is typically the name assigned to console and handheld development within Japanese game companies), and Mobile divisions. Nepro says that tri-Ace’s current strengths are in the Consumer division, but in the future they want to maintain and strengthen their Consumer division talents, while strengthening their Mobile development capabilities. The rest of the press release does acknowledge tri-Ace’s previous work, like their contributions to the Star Ocean and Valkyrie Profile series and tri-Ace’s development of the multi-platform ASKA engines.
It’s the sort of news that I think warrants cautious optimism. Coming out with this statement is better than not hearing much direct specification on tri-Ace’s future plans. However, the landscape for gaming in Japan is much more hospitable to mobile titles than traditional console or handheld games, especially with RPGs, seeing as they can require a significant investment for development. There was a reason, though very unfortunate, that an experimental studio like tri-Ace ended up being acquired by Nepro Japan.
That being said, it’s worth noting that Mobile & Game Studio, whose strengths previously lie with arcade games, have worked on the arcade franchise Lord of Vermillion — even after being acquired by Nepro Japan in 2011 — and partnered with Square Enix on that franchise. So, tri-Ace acting as a subsidiary to Nepro Japan but still developing for another publisher in the future may not be entirely out of the question.
mobileMobile & Game StudioRole Playing Gametri-Ace