Reports have hit the web that longtime Japanese console RPG developer Tri-Ace has been acquired by mobile outfit Nepro Japan, which hopes to use the studio's expertise to expand its offerings in the smartphone and tablet space.
A press release from Nepro confirms the news (Japanese; PDF link.)
The studio's last release was Phantasy Star Nova for the PlayStation Vita, on behalf of Sega; it had been a longtime partner of Enix (later Square Enix) with the Star Ocean and Valkyrie Profile franchises. The company had also worked with Konami, and lately contributed to the development of Final Fantasy XIII-2 and its sequel, Lightning Returns.
It's a sign of the times for the Japanese market, where mobile games dominate and console RPGs -- once the market's biggest genre -- are significantly less common than they were even a few years ago. Tri-Ace's expertise has always been in high-end console games; with phones and tablets catching up in power, an acquisition of the studio makes sense.
To give you an idea of the lay of the land, in this interview from last year, the producer of Street Fighter II says he has no interest in going back to the console space, now that he's made a mobile hit.
According to a translation from NeoGAF moderator Duckroll, Nepro has bought out all of Tri-Ace's shares; studio management will profit in cash from the deal, and also get Nepro shares in return.