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Tales Studio's Debt: What It Means For The Series
For those who have been following the Tales news as of late, you likely already know that Namco Tales Studio is in severe debt, barely covering their short-term debts and with long term debts almost four times their current reserves. With all this uncertainty, one question naturally comes to mind --- how will this affect the series from here on out?
According to their balance sheets, Namco Tales Studio's current assets plus their fixed assets are around 6.6 million, with their current liabilities just barely below that amount at 6.5 million Yen. While this might not sound all that bad considering the current lackluster state of RPGs in this next-gen era, the long-term liabilities and the shareholder stakes in the company are around 22-23 million --- almost 400% of what Namco Tales Studio could pay. In effect, if the shareholders were to all cash out at this moment, it would effectively "kill" the developer four times over. While this kind of debt can be expected from a start-up company, it is quite shocking for a long-running company to amass this amount of debt.
It is important to note that after 2006 Namco Bandai fully owns the studio after buying the remaining shares from Telnet Japan, so some of these debts could have been passed on from Namco Bandai to hide some of their own debt, which was widely reported when the publisher announced they would be restructuring the company as well as decreasing its workforce.
Now what could have caused such a massive debt, one may ask? Part of it can be gathered by looking at the raw sales figures below (Japan-only):
Phantasia (SNES): 550,000
Destiny (PSX): 900,000
Eternia (PSX): 660,000
Destiny 2 (PS2): 760,000
Symphonia (GC): 320,000
Symphonia (PS2): 400,000
Rebirth (PS2): 600,000
Legendia (PS2): 400,000
Abyss (PS2): 600,000
Tempest (NDS): 200,000
Innocence (NDS): 230,000
Symphonia: DotNW (Wii): 220,000
Vesperia (360): 200,000
Hearts (DS): 250,000
Graces (Wii): 190,000
With the release of Tales of Symphonia on the Nintendo GameCube, it's clear to see that the series took a huge dive in sales, since up to that point the series (excluding the original Super NES version of Tales of Phantasia) had been solely on Sony's hardware. After Tales of the Abyss the series took a nosedive in sales, with none of the non-escort titles breaking the 300,000 mark --- which can be directly tied into the fact that since Tales of the Abyss, no Tales game had been featured on Sony's hardware. And according to recent sales figures, the escort titles, such as Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology, have sold well beyond the sales of the mothership titles.
Besides shying away from Sony's platforms, part of the reason behind the drop in sales could be attributed to Namco Bandai's decision to release a slew of Tales titles in Japan all together, with the last few years having around four different titles all released in the same year, which no fan base can properly support unless they are as massive as Square Enix's Final Fantasy franchise, which Tales clearly is not.
Thus, Namco Bandai and Namco Tales Studio are faced with a multitude of difficult decisions. They could stop the flow of titles and only release a new main series title each year with a few ports of older titles if time permits, allowing the fan base to properly support each title that is released. They could also follow Square Enix's lead and focus more attention on North America and Japan, namely releasing new HD Tales titles on both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 since they have an engine for both thanks to Tales of Vesperia. The company could also focus mainly in Japan as they have to date, but release titles on Sony's platforms and try to capture the sales they received pre-Abyss. Or they could continue on the path of releasing a plethora of titles each year as the currently are. But at the rate the sales are going, this path would only lead to the complete and utter failure of Namco Tales Studio and the Tales series as a whole.
If Namco Tales Studio was to go bankrupt and was sold off as a result, things might not be all doom and gloom. Much like long-running series such as Mortal Kombat have recently been revived through different publishers, companies such as Atlus could pick up the series in Japan.
As for the North American and European fans, this news could signal less games being brought over, as Namco Bandai would be focused on keeping the series, as well as their own company, afloat in Japan over expanding the series in North America and Europe. On the other hand, this could pressure the company to think about allowing other third-party publishers such as Atlus USA and XSEED to publish the titles, which would only benefit Namco Bandai as they wouldn't have to shoulder any of the costs of localizing the titles.
Whatever Namco Tales Studio and Namco Bandai's decision is, it's clear that things won't be able to continue as they once were if either side cares at all about saving the series in Japan and elsewhere around the world. These series of events are too serious for either side to simply push to the side.
Al parecer el estudio tiene una gran deuda economica debido a las bajas ventas de la serie en estos ultimos años, lo cual podría afectar al futuro de la serie si no logran superarla o Namco Bandai se hace cargo de ella.
Esto cuadra con la falta de anuncios de nuevos Tales of en el reciente Tales of Festival, en el cual cada año se anuncian un par de ellos, y en este no se ha presentado ninguno pese a que se espera un nuevo anuncio sobre el verano.
Quizás esto signifique menos Tales of al año y aún menos en occidente, pues Namco parece muy poco interesada en esta serie, esperemos que el futuro del estudio no esté en excesivo peligro ya que es de los pocos decentes que quedan dentro del género.