Entertainment Software Publishing

Entertainment Software Publishing, Inc.[a] (ESP) was a Japanese video game publisher headquartered in Shibuya, Tokyo. It was founded in 1997 as a publisher for games developed by the Game Developers Network (GD-NET). GD-NET, which included companies such as Treasure and Game Arts, was established due to concerns over smaller developers not having the same financial backing like larger game companies did, as production of console games was beginning to rise. ESP was best known for publishing shoot 'em ups and role-playing games. While primarily a publisher, ESP also developed a handful of games internally.

Entertainment Software Publishing, Inc.
Native name
株式会社エンターテインメント ソフトウェア パブリッシング
Kabushiki-gaisha Entāteinmento Sofutō~ea Paburisshingu
Subsidiary
IndustryVideo games
FateMerged with D3 Publisher
FoundedNovember 1997; 22 years ago (1997-11)
Defunct1 April 2010; 10 years ago (2010-04-01)
Headquarters
Shibuya, Tokyo
,
Japan
Key people
Youichi Miyaji (president)
Products
Parent
Websiteesp-web.co.jp (archived)

ESP primarily published games for the Sega Saturn and Dreamcast. When both systems met their demise, the company began struggling financially as it started shifting operations towards consoles such as the PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, and Nintendo DS. ESP was purchased by Game Arts in 2001 and became its publishing division. In 2004, ESP was sold to D3 Publisher, which had noticed ESP's track record and lineup of well-received titles. ESP was merged into the video game operations of D3 in 2010.

Many games that were published by ESP, including Grandia, Radiant Silvergun, and the Bangai-O series, have received praise from critics. Several have sold well and have been ranked among the best in their genres. In the past, ESP helped co-publish several Japanese massively multiplayer online video games, and also collaborated with other game companies on various projects.

HistoryEdit

 
ESP was established to publish games by smaller developers for consoles such as the Sega Saturn (pictured above).

In the late 1990s in Japan, several Japanese video game developers, including Treasure, Quintet, Sting Entertainment, and Game Arts, joined forces and established Game Developers Network (GD-NET). The purpose of GD-NET was to establish mutual assistance with one another.[1] As the video game market in Japan began growing in size, the costs for developers to produce games for consoles was also rising.[1] Members of GD-NET did not have the same financial backing like larger companies did, and believed that creating healthy relationships between them would increase their chances of surviving the industry landscape of the time.[2] Companies under the network proposed a plan that would allow them to focus their resources on game development instead of production and promotion of their titles.[1][3]

GD-NET members established Entertainment Software Publishing (ESP) in November 1997.[4] Youichi Miyaji, the president and CEO of Game Arts, was appointed president of the company.[5] ESP was funded by many game studios, including Japan Art Media, CSK Research Institute, and Onion Soft, as well as most of the companies that were part of GD-NET.[6][7] Additional funding was provided by CSK Holdings, the parent company of Sega.[8][3] Developers such as Treasure and Game Arts would create and produce games, while ESP would handle marketing, sales, and promotion of these games.[4][5] GD-NET developers believed that ESP would help make production of games easier and much more efficient than before by not having to rely on companies like Sega to publish them.[4]

One of ESP's first hits was Grandia for the PlayStation and Sega Saturn. Developed by Game Arts, Grandia was released in 1997 to critical acclaim,[9] being listed as one of the greatest role-playing video games of all time. It became the first third-party Sega Saturn game to sell over 500,000 copies, and become a best-seller for the console. Treasure's Saturn conversion of the arcade game Radiant Silvergun was also released to acclaim for its gameplay and mechanics,[10] and is cited among the best and most influential shoot'em up games created.[11][12][13] Slayers Royal and its follow-up Slayers Royal 2, both based on the Slayers light novel and anime series, were also commercially successful.[14]

In 1998, Sega discontinued production of the Sega Saturn in Europe and North America amidst poor sales.[15] While the Saturn was still being sold in Japan, Sega largely abandoned the system in favor of the Dreamcast, which it released the same year.[16] As such, ESP began to shift its publishing operations from Saturn to Dreamcast and other consoles like the Nintendo 64. It published Bangai-O for the latter console in 1999, which while critically successful was produced in limited quantities out of concern over its niche appeal.[17][18] ESP commonly participated in the Tokyo Game Show and other major video game events in the country, where they regularly presented their more popular titles such as Silhouette Mirage.[19] By this time, many developers within GD-NET had either departed or gone out of business, which caused ESP to diminish and lose financial backing. ESP also began publishing games for the PlayStation 2, which had become the best-selling video game console in Japan and outsold the Dreamcast by a wide margin.[20][21]

After Sega ended production of the Dreamcast in 2001 and CSK sold its shares of the company to Sammy Corporation,[22] Game Arts acquired ESP, and made the latter its publishing division.[23] In 2004, ESP was purchased by D3 Publisher, a Japanese video game studio best known for its Simple series of budget games.[24][25] D3 purchased 100% of ESP's stock for a total of 120 million yen. ESP's track record and lineup of commercially successful games was the reason for the acquisition, with ESP becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of D3.[25] In addition to publishing other developer's titles for systems like the PlayStation 2 and Nintendo DS, ESP also began developing its own games such as Hajime no Ippo Portable Victorious Spirits for the PlayStation Portable.[26] ESP co-published several Japanese massively multiplayer online games as well.[27] In 2008, the company partnered with Treasure, the only remaining GD-NET company to still have working relations with them, to form a publishing project known as "Treasure × ESP".[28] The project lead to ESP publishing Bangai-O Spirits for the DS, a critically successful sequel to Bangai-O.[29]

On 1 April 2010, ESP announced it had been shut down and merged with the video game operations of D3 Publisher.[30] The year prior, D3 had been majority-acquired by Namco Bandai Games.[31][32][33]

Games publishedEdit

Year Title Platform(s) Developer(s) Ref.
1997 Slayers Royal PlayStation
Sega Saturn
Kadokawa Shoten
Japan Art Media
[34]
Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete MPEG Version PlayStation Game Arts
Japan Art Media
[35]
Silhouette Mirage PlayStation
Sega Saturn
Treasure [19]
Lunar: Sanposuru Gakuen Sega Saturn Game Arts [36]
Grandia PlayStation
Sega Saturn
Game Arts [19]
1998 Gungriffon II Sega Saturn Game Arts [37]
Code R Sega Saturn Quintet [38]
Radiant Silvergun Sega Saturn Treasure [39]
Slayers Royal 2 PlayStation
Sega Saturn
Onion Egg [34]
Baroque PlayStation
Sega Saturn
Sting [40]
Lunar 2: Eternal Blue Complete PlayStation Game Arts
Japan Art Media
[39]
Chaos Seed Sega Saturn Neverland [40]
1999 Bangai-O Nintendo 64 Treasure [41]
Evolution 2: Far Off Promise Dreamcast Sting [19]
2000 Evolution: The World of Sacred Device Dreamcast Sting [42]
Aquarian Age: Tokyo Wars PlayStation Broccoli [43]
Victorious Boxers: Ippo's Road to Glory PlayStation 2 New Corporation [39]
2001 Abarenbō Princess PlayStation 2 Alfa System [44]
2002 Evolution Worlds GameCube Sting [41]
Ikaruga Dreamcast Treasure [45]
2004 Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon PlayStation 2
Xbox
Bergsala Lightweight
Genki
[41]
Victorious Boxers 2: Fighting Spirit PlayStation 2 News Corporation [46]
2005 Azumi PlayStation 2 News Corporation [47]
2007 Garouden Breakblow: Fist or Twist PlayStation 2 Opus [48]
2008 Bangai-O Spirits Nintendo DS Treasure [49]

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Japanese: 株式会社エンターテインメント ソフトウェア パブリッシング Hepburn: Kabushiki gaisha Entāteinmento Sofutō~ea Paburisshingu

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c "Japan's Most Talented Developers Join Forces To Publish Own Products". 4 (11). DieHard Gamers Club. GameFan. November 1996. p. 164. Retrieved 30 May 2020.
  2. ^ "Entertainment Software Publishing" (in Japanese) (Volume 12). Micromagazine co. Game Criticism. December 1996. pp. 32–35. Retrieved 30 May 2020.
  3. ^ a b "What's GDNET [ESPとは?]" (in Japanese). Quintet. Archived from the original on 27 April 2003. Retrieved 31 May 2020.
  4. ^ a b c "Newsline - A Grand Enterprise". 1 (7). Viz Communications. Game On! USA. November 1997. p. 13. Retrieved 30 May 2020.
  5. ^ a b "特別講演「伝説のゲームクリエイターに聞く」第4弾を終えて". Game Preservation Society. 28 August 2019. Archived from the original on 3 December 2019. Retrieved 30 May 2020.
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  8. ^ Pollack, Andrew (4 July 1993). "Sega Takes Aim at Disney's World". The New York Times. pp. 3–1. Archived from the original on 26 May 2015. Retrieved 7 May 2015.
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  10. ^ Kalata, Kurt (4 May 2012). "Radiant Silvergun". Hardcore Gaming 101. Archived from the original on 26 March 2018. Retrieved 25 December 2017.
  11. ^ Cutlack, Gary (September 1998). "Radiant Silvergun". Sega Saturn Magazine (UK). No. 35. pp. 60–69.
  12. ^ Mielke, James (8 September 1998). "Radiant Silvergun (Import) Review". GameSpot. Archived from the original on 3 June 2016. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
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  18. ^ Kitts, Martin (1999). "Import Arena: Bakuretsu Muteki Bangaio". N64 Magazine. No. 36. p. 86.
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  24. ^ Niizumi, Hirohiko (26 August 2004). "D3 Publisher acquires Entertainment Software Publishing". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on 30 May 2020. Retrieved 30 May 2020.
  25. ^ a b Gantayat, Anoop (26 August 2004). "D3 To Purchase ESP". IGN. Archived from the original on 22 March 2016. Retrieved 30 May 2020.
  26. ^ Siliconera Staff (17 September 2007). "Hajime no Ippo coming to the PSP too". Siliconera. Archived from the original on 31 May 2020. Retrieved 31 May 2020.
  27. ^ "Kingdom Under Fire最新Screenshots公開". 4Gamer.net (in Japanese). Aetas. 9 January 2001. Archived from the original on 18 June 2013. Retrieved 1 June 2020.
  28. ^ "Treasure X ESP X D3". Siliconera. Curse, Inc. 17 September 2007. Archived from the original on 31 May 2020. Retrieved 31 May 2020.
  29. ^ Kalata, Kurt (25 January 2009). "Bangai-O Spirits". Hardcore Gaming 101. Archived from the original on 20 May 2018. Retrieved 20 May 2018.
  30. ^ "当社は2010年4月1日付で株式会社ディースリーと合併し解散いたしました。". www.esp-web.co.jp (in Japanese). Entertainment Software Publishing. 1 April 2010. Archived from the original on 23 September 2010. Retrieved 30 May 2020.
  31. ^ Eisenbeis, Richard (11 November 2014). "Japanese PS2 Budget Games Were an Outlet for Pure Insanity". Kotaku. Univision Communications. Archived from the original on 13 May 2019. Retrieved 7 July 2019.
  32. ^ Fahey, Mike (12 February 2009). "Namco Bandai Plans Buyout Of D3". Kotaku. G/O Media. Archived from the original on 6 July 2019. Retrieved 18 May 2020.
  33. ^ Nelson, Randy (12 February 2009). "Namco Bandai announces intent to purchase D3 Publisher". Joystiq. AOL. Archived from the original on 13 February 2009. Retrieved 18 May 2020.
  34. ^ a b "Game Soft" (in Spanish) (30). Kame. January 1999. p. 30. Retrieved 30 May 2020.
  35. ^ Editors of Hyper PlayStation Magazine (July 1998). "Lunar: Silver Star Story Review". Hyper PlayStation Magazine (in Japanese): 59–64.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  36. ^ "Sega Saturn Software Licensee List (1997)" (in Japanese). Sega. Archived from the original on 20 March 2020. Retrieved 30 May 2020.
  37. ^ "SEGA SATURN SOFT REVIEW - ガングリフォン II" (PDF) (in Japanese) (15). Sega Saturn Magazine. 22 May 1998. p. 214. Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 May 2020. Retrieved 30 May 2020.
  38. ^ "SEGA SATURN SOFT REVIEW - SEGA AGES/ギャラクシーフォースII" (PDF) (21). Sega Saturn Magazine. 10 July 1998. p. 206. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 February 2020. Retrieved 16 February 2020.
  39. ^ a b c Jenkins, David (27 August 2004). "D3 Publishing Acquires ESP". Gamasutra. UBM Technology Group. Archived from the original on 30 May 2020. Retrieved 30 May 2020.
  40. ^ a b "The Best of the Rest". Sega Saturn Magazine. No. 25. Emap International Limited. November 1997. p. 12. Retrieved 3 December 2019.
  41. ^ a b c IGN Staff (23 June 1999). "Unearthing Treasure for N64". IGN. Archived from the original on 7 May 2014. Retrieved 6 May 2018.
  42. ^ "Evolution: The World of Sacred Device -". AllGame. All Media. 1998. Archived from the original on 14 November 2014. Retrieved 30 May 2020.
  43. ^ IGN Staff (2 June 2000). "Latest Japanese Sales Figures". IGN. Archived from the original on 20 November 2012. Retrieved 30 May 2020.
  44. ^ Komazawa, Takeharu (25 December 2001). "OVA感覚で楽しむ痛快ドラマチックRPG 「暴れん坊プリンセス」". Game Watch (in Japanese). Impress Group. Archived from the original on 8 August 2017. Retrieved 30 May 2020.
  45. ^ Retro Gamer Staff (3 November 2008). "Ikaruga Review". Retro Gamer. United Kingdom: Imagine Publishing. Archived from the original on 30 May 2020. Retrieved 30 May 2020.
  46. ^ Kitamura, Takakazu (27 February 2004). "ESP、PS2「はじめの一歩2 VICTORIOUS ROAD」 「プレESPカップ」の締め切り迫る! 3月1日まで受付中". Game Watch (in Japanese). Impress Group. Archived from the original on 7 August 2017. Retrieved 30 May 2020.
  47. ^ Gantayat, Anoop (22 November 2004). "ESP Announces Azumi". IGN. Archived from the original on 30 May 2020. Retrieved 30 May 2020.
  48. ^ "「餓狼伝Breakblow Fist or Twist」のサイトにてスクリーンショットとプロモーションムービーを公開しました" (in Japanese). Entertainment Software Publishing. 27 February 2007. Archived from the original on 29 December 2007. Retrieved 30 May 2020.
  49. ^ Siliconera Staff (24 September 2008). "ESP's Next Project Is Touch Screen Boxing". Siliconera. Curse, Inc. Archived from the original on 30 May 2020. Retrieved 30 May 2020.

External linksEdit