Elden Ring was a huge success for FromSoftware and its publisher Bandai Namco. In fact it is Bandai Namco's fastest-selling game of all time and has reached 16.6 million units sold globally as of June. It has bested the likes of FIFA 22 and Pokemon Legends: Arceus in sales across Europe, while Bandai Namco Europe CEO Arnaud Muller is happy with the game's success, which has tipped the Souls genre firmly into the mainstream.

However, in an interview with GamesIndustry, the CEO did point out that Elden Ring wasn't the Japanese publisher's first global success, referencing the international popularity the Tekken series. But Elden Ring was a new series and the publisher has a strategy to introduce new IP for its games.

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"Dark Souls has always been perceived as a difficult [series] and Elden Ring is a difficult game but I think with the work we've done to explain properly to our fans the way they could discover this adventure, this new game has touched a larger audience and has made it more accessible," Muller told GamesIndustry. "It's a combination of the type of game it is and the positioning of it. And I think it worked very well."

Tekken Force minigame, introduced in Tekken 3

Bandai Namco has had the ambition to have half of its games be new IP for several years. However, as the trend in the games industry has been growing towards acquisitions, this can make it hard for the Japanese publisher to find triple-A partners. Examples include when Little Nightmares developer Tarsier Studios was bought out by Embracer Group in 2019, and its partnership with Supermassive, who make the Dark Pictures Anthology series, which was acquired by Nordisk earlier this year. However, Muller said Supermassive's buyout doesn't affect the relationship.

The CEO was also asked to comment on the wave of acquisitions that have been occuring in the industry. Muller said that the "spread of acquisitions" is "affecting some of the smaller publishers in their capacity to access the best studios in the world."

"But we at Bandai Namco have the financial means to secure these partnerships. We work on a number of measures to secure those partnerships – first option rights, IP ownership, minority stakes in those studios. So there are ways to secure the relationships," he continued.

entering the zagros mountains

Muller said the publisher has "always been platform agnostic", after being prompted to comment on the Microsoft and Activitision Blizzard merger, and wants to remain so. "We want our IPs and our games to be accessible to as many players as possible, whatever they're playing on," he said.

It's an important point that Muller makes. As bigger games companies such as Take-Two and Embracer Group buy up more developers – alongside the investments and acquisitions the likes of giants Sony, Microsoft, and Tencent are making – the industry becomes more rigid and less freewheeling. The ability for smaller devs to find publishers is important, and creative teams should be able to find good deals and the right partner.

Similarly, smaller publishers should be able to nimbly locate the studios they want to work with in order to bring fresh ideas and add dynamism to their portfolios. In a world of bigger and bigger fish, those publishers that lack the financial resources of Bandai Namco might find themselves losing this competitive edge and could eventually become buyout targets themselves, exacerbating the problem. As Muller suggests, the more platforms a game is available on means more players are able to access them. Hopefully the increasing consolidation in the industry won't mean the opposite occurs.

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