Elden Ring maker FromSoftware’s $2bn corporate owner just bought Japanese board game publisher, Tokyo Game Market organiser Arclight

Arclight, one of Japan’s biggest board game publishers and the organiser of Tokyo Game Market, has been bought by multibillion-dollar Japanese entertainment conglomerate Kadokawa Group.

The deal brings Arclight into the same stable as companies including video game maker FromSoftware, famous for video games including Elden Ring, Bloodborne and the Dark Souls series.

Kadokawa, which is currently valued at more than $2bn, boasts a plethora of other businesses across book, manga and magazine publishing, film and anime, and says it specialises in creating new IP and “deploying ideas across different types of media”.

Examples of that mixed-media strategy include the announcement in February that Elden Ring would be adapted into a webcomic, and boosts the chances of FromSoftware titles and other Kadokawa IPs being turned into new tabletop games.

FromSoftware’s titles have already made it to the tabletop through UK-based Steamforged Games, which raised more than $7m through Kickstarter campaigns for adaptations of Dark Souls and Elden Ring, and CMON, which raised over $4m for BloodBorne: The Board Game.

Arclight has a long history in Japan’s tabletop gaming industry, having launched in 1998 to manage what was Japan’s largest tabletop RPG event, Japan Game Convention.

The company runs 32 Hobby Station trading card game retail stores in Japan, having opened its first outlet in 2003. A year later it began importing and selling overseas board games, and in 2005 started a localisation business to convert those games for the Japanese market.

Arclight started hosting and operating Game Market in 2010 – a tabletop gaming event which now runs three times a year in Tokyo and Osaka. The most recent event attracted about 25,000 visitors.

Arclight president Kohsuke Fukumoto said, “Analog games are the best tool for communication between people, which is in high demand in today’s society.

“However, in order for the industry to make a further leap forward, we believe it is necessary to expand overseas and link our business with IPs.

“In discussing our vision for the future with Kadokawa, we were convinced that we could grow our business together.

Masayuki Aoyagi, chief publishing officer at Kadokawa, added, “Kadokawa has been involved in the analog game business since the release of Sword World RPG in 1989.

“This is not simply a game development effort, but we also view games as a source of IP, from which we have created many fascinating characters and stories.

“Light novels, which now have a large readership, can also be said to be derived from analog games. By welcoming Arclight, with whom we have been collaborating for many years, to our group, we aim to accelerate our analog game development business, discover new creators at game markets, and expand our domestic analog games to the world through linkage with overseas game markets.”

BoardGameWire reported last December that Essen Spiel was hoping to launch a co-promotion partnership with Tokyo Game Market, to help boost awareness of both events.

Kadokawa’s Arclight buyout comes just a few days after Zombicide and Blood Rage publisher CMON bought Japon Brand, the collective launched almost 20 years ago to promote Japanese board games around the world.

Japon Brand was instrumental in bringing Japanese games such as Love Letter and Machi Koro to international markets, after being inspired by the surge in novel games from home-grown designers in the early 2000s.


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