While it is general video game industry news, it certainly affects Dragon Ball fandom in a huge way. According to a news piece over on Gamasutra, Infogrames (Atari’s full owner at this point) has agreed to sell a 66% stake in its “sales, marketing, and retail distribution” business called “Distribution Partners” to Namco-Bandai.
“Distribution Partners” was apparently set up as a joint-venture with Namco-Bandai in the first place, and many of its products were Namco-Bandai items distributed across Europe and Asia by Infogrames.
“This announcement is the culmination of our strategic relationship with Namco Bandai Games Europe who have proven to be an outstanding partner in creating the Distribution Partners business,” said Infogrames CEO David Gardner.
“The exercise of the put option will now allow Atari to focus its financial resources and creative energy exclusively on developing and publishing online-enabled games, shifting our operations towards servicing recurring revenues and a higher-margin online business model while still benefiting from access to Distribution Partners strong international distribution network.”
As a reminder, Bandai (and therefore the larger company, Namco-Bandai) holds the exclusive rights to Dragon Ball merchandise such as video games. In North America (and many countries abroad), Atari (and therefore the larger company, Infogrames) holds the sub-license from FUNimation (and therefore the larger company, Navarre) to distribute these products to their local market(s).
Yes, that is a lot of holding companies and sub-licensing. In a nutshell, Atari/Infogrames is creating additional business ventures and ties with Namco-Bandai, and Dragon Ball is in the midst of it. It will be interesting to see where this all takes us in January 2010 when Atari’s current sub-license from FUNimation expires.