Could Shin Megami Tensei become a Nintendo exclusive?

Atlus may be riding high on the success of Shin Megami Tensei IV, but its parent company Index is in serious financial trouble and is likely to begin auctioning off its assets — Atlus included — as early as this week.

Interestingly, there are rumours circulating that Nintendo is poised to pick up Atlus and bring the company into the fold as an internal studio. According to International Digital Times, the evidence lies in the close working relationship that the two firms have shared in recent years. As well as Shin Megami Tensei IV — which is a 3DS exclusive — Atlus and Nintendo are working on crossover title Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem.

Here's what International Digital Times has to say on the matter:

The single most likely bidder for Atlus in the Atlus bankruptcy case is Nintendo. As a matter of fact, I'd like to suggest that a Nintendo-led acquisition of Atlus may actually have been in the works for some time. That's because Nintendo has been working unusually closely with Atlus lately, treating them practically like an in-house studio. That may be because Atlus is about to become one.

Not convinced? International Digital Times says that a move from Nintendo is likely because it's the company which has the most to gain from buying Atlus: only makes sense for Nintendo to make the most of the Atlus bankruptcy and buy Atlus outright, maybe at a bit of a discount. It would not only shore up an increasingly significant third party developer - especially in its home market - but it would also simply create more capacity for Nintendo's homegrown development, which is something they've discussed expanding. Their recent collaboration suggests that the cultures mesh well together.

What's more, the other major gaming companies aren't as interested in the Atlus bankruptcy. Sony is the biggest threat; if they decide they're interested, they can certainly outbid Nintendo. Square Enix would make a lot of sense, but wouldn't help them diversify - quite the opposite - and they don't really have the money. Capcom or Konami could pick it up, but there are no obvious synergies. And Microsoft and other Western developers just won't care.

That sounds like some serious guesswork to us, but it's certainly true that Nintendo will have a lot to gain from buying Atlus and given the developer's rather unfortunate position, it could be bought for a decent price. Nintendo could do with the additional development support, too — Atlus exclusives for the Wii U could boost the console's fortunes in its homeland.

What are your thoughts? Is a Nintendo purchase an unlikely scenario, or do you think the deal has been in the works for some time? Post a comment to share your opinion with us.