By Jeff Neuenschwander / June 5th, 2014
THE LITTLE COMPANY THAT CAN
In November of 2004, a small band of former Square Enix USA employees came together to form XSEED JKS, Inc. The purpose of this creation was to… well, I’ll let the about page explain it:
XSEED Games was formed in November 2004 by a small group of industry veterans with a common vision; to cross pollinate the avid gaming culture of Japan and North America. Delivering unique, innovative titles across multiple platforms and genres, XSEED Games is dedicated to publishing products that appeal to and enrich the North American market.
XSEED went to work right away with fulfilling this mission, with Wild Arms 4 and Shadow Hearts: From the New World being the company’s first releases, coming in 2006. That may seem like a long time from formation to first products, but remember: XSEED was (and probably still is) a small team of localizers, with as many as 5 full-time employees working on games at the time. Wild Arms 4 also had an unfortunate problem in the Western versions with two monsters removed from gameplay but not the monster list, keeping players from achieving 100% in the game.
Things did get better after those initial releases… for us. It just got more hectic for XSEED. It peaked in 2009 and 2010 when they released 10 and 11 games in those respective years. As former XSEED localization manager Jessica Chavez stated in our interview with the company last year, there were only 10 people in the office at the time, including PR and marketing.
But we did get some great games during that time, like Retro Game Challenge, Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon, and Ivy the Kiwi?. They also partnered with Nihon Falcom to localize games in the Ys series as well as The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky. It was also during these early years that XSEED was acquired by AQ Interactive.
Originally known as Cavia, Inc. (founded in 2000), AQ Interactive came into existence in 2005 when Cavia changed its name and became a holding company. They would house developers Artoon (Yoshi’s Universal Gravitation, Yoshi’s Island DS, Blue Dragon), feelplus (Lost Odyssey, Star Ocean: The Last Hope, No More Heroes: Heroes’ Paradise), and the new Cavia (Drakengard, Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles, Nier). In 2007, they would purchase a controlling interest in XSEED, eventually raising their share from 55% to 90% in 2009.
And while this helped XSEED get off the ground in their early days, it was their partnership with Marvelous that would solidify them as a publisher.
THE GROWTH OF MARVELOUS
Back in 1996, Pack-In-Video merged with Victor Entertainment to create the Victor Interactive Software division. However, just one year later, their future parent company was formed.
Established in 1997, Marvelous Entertainment wasn’t actually a gaming company. The early days of Marvelous were mostly as a copyright and publishing business. As a matter of fact, one of their first subsidiaries was for music, called Marvelous Music Publishing, Inc. In addition, the MMV logo they had originally stood for Marvelous Music Vibration.
It wasn’t until 2003 that Marvelous jumped into the gaming industry, purchasing Victor Interactive Software. The initial purchase in March was for a 55% stake in the company. By September, Victor Interactive would become a wholly owned subsidiary of Marvelous, becoming Marvelous Interactive. With the purchase came the rights to Victor Interactive’s games, including Bokujō Monogatari/Harvest Moon.
But it wasn’t enough to just have a simple gaming division. Marvelous wanted their games to be released worldwide, and they wanted to do it themselves.
In 2004, Marvelous partnered with Swedish company Bergsala AB to form Rising Star Games. RSG would act as the European distributor for Marvelous until 2010 when the Marvelous shares were sold to Intergrow.
And in 2005, they would purchase an American company and open Marvelous Entertainment USA. In a bit of irony and in no way affiliated with a company in a later merger, the company they purchased was AQ Interactive.
But unlike Rising Star Games, Marvelous Entertainment USA had a mission to scout out American publishers that would help them publish games in the region. They wanted a company with good contacts and strong relationships with retailers.
And that’s where XSEED came in.
By 2008, XSEED had begun to establish itself as a top niche publisher, localizing the last three Wild Arms games, Victorious Boxers: Revolution, Brave Story: New Traveler, and Marvelous’ Valhalla Knights. From what I can tell, Marvelous began eyeing them as a potential western branch. In May of 2008, Marvelous and XSEED entered a partnership where they would co-publish games in the region. From this came the localizations of Valhalla Knights 2, Avalon Code, Flower, Sun, and Rain, Little King’s Story, and Half-Minute Hero, just to name a few.
So, with the partnership being a success, it would make sense that they would want XSEED to be their North American branch. Just one problem: AQ Interactive was the owner of XSEED. If Marvelous was to get the branch they wanted, they needed to do something drastic.
So, in May of 2011, Marvelous Entertainment and AQ Interactive, along with Liveware Inc., announced a merger, in which they would become Marvelous AQL Inc. And with it came XSEED, the western branch that Marvelous coveted.
What happened to Marvelous Entertainment USA? Well, they were eventually sold off to, of all companies, Rising Star Games.
Harvest Moon: The Lost ValleyMarvelous AQLNatsumeStory of SeasonsXSEED Games