Ever since Microsoft announced the bombshell news it’d be acquiring Activision Blizzard, rumors have run rampant about a wealth of other potential acquisitions. Questions arose about what, if anything, Sony would do to respond to the Activision purchase, and countless fans weighed in with the developers they’d like to see under the PlayStation banner. One of the most hotly rumored acquisitions is Sony purchasing FromSoftware, the critically-acclaimed developer behind Elden Ring and Dark Souls. However, while many might like to see that happen, it’s still an unlikely purchase despite the rumors.
FromSoftware is currently riding high on the overwhelming success of Elden Ring, which sold a tremendous 12 million copies only 17 days after release. In just a matter of weeks, Elden Ring has become the developer’s best-selling game of all time, almost beating out Red Dead Redemption 2, which sold 17 million copies in its first two weeks. With the developer’s most successful game ever still going strong, it’s unlikely that FromSoftware would be interested in selling. Acquisitions don’t usually happen when companies are performing better than they ever have.
There’s another major factor that comes into play as well, considering FromSoftware is a subsidiary of Kadokawa Corporation, a major publishing company that works in film, television, manga, and more. This fact was highlighted in a Twitter thread by Dr. Serkan Toto, a consultant and industry analyst at Kantan Games. In the thread, Toto walks through a bit of the weird history of FromSoftware, and how they ended up as a subsidiary of Kadokawa.
For a long time, FromSofware simply wasn’t in the right hands, working on projects that clearly didn’t cater to its strengths. In 2007 a Japanese IT outsourcing company called Transcosmos entered a joint deal with FromSoftware as well as a right-wing paper called Sankei Shimbun. The strange goal of this deal was essentially a metaverse that would feature a digital recreation of Tokyo. Perhaps unsurprisingly the project eventually failed, but FromSoftware became a subsidiary of Transcosmos.
Wanting to get rid of its gaming business, Transcosmos eventually sold FromSoftware to Kadakowa in 2014 for the equivalent of $22.5 million, which is practically nothing in the grand scheme of acquisitions. For comparison, Sony’s acquisition of Insomniac in 2019 cost $229 million. Looking forward, Kadowaka obviously got a killer deal and the company has clearly let FromSoftware flourish.
What all this means is that it’s unlikely Sony could simply purchase FromSoftware by itself, and would rather have to acquire Kadakowa as a whole. Sony is undoubtedly the bigger company, so to speak, but Kadokawa is a massive million-dollar company in its own right.
Toto tells Inverse in a statement “FromSoftware is very likely very high on the list of a lot of companies out there, not only Sony. Kadokawa might be reluctant to sell its prime gaming property, however, as without From, they would not have a meaningful gaming business anymore.\
So it really depends not only on the obvious factor (price) but also Kadokawa's strategic direction over the next years.”
The entire publishing catalog of Kadakowa could appear attractive to Sony, but it’s more likely the two companies will continue the strong relationship they already have. In 2021, Sony and Kadokawa entered into a “capital alliance,” which gave Sony a 1.93 percent stake in the company. The goal of the alliance was to benefit the animation and gaming efforts of both companies, opening up some resources and talent for each.
Sony seems much more interested in developing multiplayer and live-service titles moving forward, evidenced by the company’s purchase of Bungie for $3.6 billion. Bungie remains mostly independent and able to self-publish, so it’s not quite the same as Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision.
FromSoftware, for as beloved as they are, simply doesn’t fit well into this new focus on live service. It’s far more likely Sony would sign some kind of publishing deal with Kadokawa, or co-develop a new exclusive along the lines of Bloodborne.
While FromSoftware is easily one of the most beloved developers in the industry, an acquisition by Sony simply doesn’t line up with the company’s apparent plans for the future. With the bombastic success of Elden Ring, even if there is any kind of deal, no one would want to interfere with the independence and vision of FromSoftware.