By Joseph Leray
In a statement released today GungHo Online Entertainment, a Japanese publisher famous for its longstanding “Ragnarok Online” MMO, announced that it has acquired Grasshopper Manufacture, the Goichi Suda-led studio behind games like “Killer 7,” “No More Heroes,” and the upcoming “Killer is Dead.”
As is usual in these types of deals, the press release mostly features Suda and GOE boss Kazuki Morishita being overly complimentary toward each other. “[W]ith the addition of Grasshopper Manufacture and Suda51 we are adding some of the most innovative talent in today’s gaming world to our stellar family,” Morishita effused. “We believe gamers will benefit from this collaboration.”
Suda fired back with his own salvo: “By joining GungHo Online Entertainment, we are aligning ourselves with a strong, established publishing force that will support our vision.”
Pleasantries aside, GungHo does have a nice crop of studios under its belt, including Game Arts, who developed the “Lunar” and “Grandia” series of RPGs, and Acquire, best known for the “Tenchu” franchise. Even better, GungHo recently opened a dedicated North American publishing arm, giving Grasshopper fans hope that “Killer is Dead” might see a US release after its Japanese debut in June.
Here’s the twist: Xseed recently registered a series of domain names that suggest a connection to “Killer is Dead,” which seems hard to square with the Grasshopper/GungHo deal. Xseed is known for publishing, localizing, and distributing niche import titles and has worked with GungHo before. Nevertheless, whether or not “Killer is Dead” will make it to the US of A, and which companies will be involved if it does, is still up in the air.