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Elden Ring sneakily changes hands, and that’s a headache for Bandai

Between canceled PS5 and Xbox games as well as the loss of its share of Elden Ring rights, Bandai Namco has had a rough go of it the past couple of years.

Elden Ring ownership change: a peach-haired girl with markings on one eye, surrounded by fire

Among Bandai Namco’s latest woes, it has been revealed that Elden Ring developer FromSoftware now has full creative control over the PS5 and Xbox sensation. Bandai Namco originally shared IP ownership with FromSoft, though the publisher appears to have relinquished it last year.

According to both the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the UK’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO), Elden Ring changed hands on April 23, 2023. Whether FromSoft used its Elden Ring bag to buy out the rights to one of the best games of all time, or had a pre-existing agreement with Bandai Namco in place, is unclear. In practice, it currently doesn’t seem to be affecting anything as Bamco is still set to publish the upcoming Shadow of the Erdtree DLC – whenever that may be.

Long-term, however, this is just another headache in a series of headaches for Bandai Namco. Its most recent earnings report [via VGC] reveals that its digital division suffered a monstrous 96.5% income drop. Though iconic anime properties Dragon Ball and One Piece continue to perform well, it’s more than felt the pinch from the Elden Ring sales drop off – something it hasn’t been able to make up for this year.

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What’s clear here is that Elden Ring was a massive factor in the publisher’s recent successes. Fortunately, Bamco doesn’t seem to be losing its publisher status for one of the best RPG games anytime soon, though it can no longer have a say in what FromSoft chooses to do with it, if anything, post-Erdtree. As the initial revenue from the Lands Between has all but dried up, its long-term strategy has taken a hit.

Though the likes of Armored Core 6 and Tekken 8 – which recently sailed past the two million sales mark – have performed well, its game dev endeavors have been leaned out drastically. As per the FAQ following the report, Bandai Namco says that it has “decided to discontinue the development of at least five other titles.”

“Since the second half of the previous fiscal year (2023),” the report says, “we have changed our development structure, setting stricter standards for proceeding with development, narrowing down titles, and changing the method of recording development expenses.” Of course, Elden Ring isn’t the only factor here – the whole industry is in a post-Covid slump – but it’s certainly a large one.

Though Bandai Namco is currently feeling the heat, things seem to be going great for FromSoft, which has been gearing up to self-publish for some time now. Back in 2022 Sony and Tencent bought into the studio, injecting it with 36.4 billion yen. Add in its cut of the revenue from the whopping 20+ million copies of Elden Ring shifted and it’s now unlikely we’ll see any more of its IPs controlled by third parties going forward (Sony, we’re on our knees for Bloodborne 2).

For more of the latest PS5 and Xbox news, check out why Palworld is proof that Xbox’s strategy is working, as well as how many Xbox exclusives will be heading to PlayStation as part of said strategy.