The history of FromSoftware, Elden Ring and Dark Souls developer

Steven Rondina • June 23, 2022 11:24 pm

After years of being relatively unknown in the western world, Japanese game studio FromSoftware now stands as one of the most beloved developers in the industry.

In an era where even the likes of Blizzard and Game Freak have an adversarial relationship with fans, FromSoftware is an exception. The studio has basically dropped game of the year contenders on a biannual basis and released one of the biggest blockbusters in video games with 2022’s Elden Ring.

The company existed long before the Soulsborne series, though. Here is its history and why it became a beloved developer.

A brief history of FromSoftware

  • Company Name: FromSoftware
  • Parent Company: Kadokawa Corporation
  • November 1, 1986
  • Headquarters: Tokyo, Japan

FromSoftware was founded in 1986 as a business software developer, but pivoted to video game development in the early 1990s. It made its debut with the 1994 RPG King’s Field for the PlayStation 1. The game was successful enough to receive two sequels in two years, which was followed by the release of Armored Core.

A slew of spin-offs and sequels followed for both IPs in the following years. The mix of RPGs and mech-based action games became the bread and butter for FromSoftware for more than a decade after.

Following the end of the PS1-Nintendo 64-Sega Saturn console generation, FromSoftware significantly expanded its development efforts. This saw 35 games released by the studio between 1999 and 2006. Games varied in quality during this time, with some receiving generally strong reviews while others were lambasted by critics.

The mixed results continued for some time, but the studio had its first significant western hit in 2009.

FromSoftware’s Soulsborne series begins with Demon’s Souls

FromSoftware enjoyed its first significant sales in western markets with PlayStation 3 action RPG Demon’s Souls. The game was met with a lukewarm reception in Japan to the point where Sony declined to localize and publish it in western markets. 

Atlus USA and Namco Bandai licensed the game from Sony for release in North America and Europe, respectively. The game was met with strong reviews and sales in both markets. FromSoftware published a number of games on both consoles and mobile platforms that received varied responses.

In 2011 a successor to Demon’s Souls arrived in Dark Souls. The game was met with strong reviews and high sales, moving over 1 million units in Europe and North America in its first six months.

Soon after, the company released a string of mech games. All received either mediocre or resoundingly negative reviews.

Dark Souls’ success sees Hidetaka Miyazaki installed as president

In 2014, Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls director Hidetaka Miyazaki became president of FromSoftware. This resulted in a shift by FromSoftware with the studio releasing games much less frequently, but with those games generally enjoying both critical and commercial success.

Surrounding this, Dark Souls 2 was released to much fanfare. Miyazaki served as a supervisor for the game while directing the development of the PlayStation 4 exclusive Bloodborne.

The company then turned its attention to Dark Souls 3, meant to be the final game in the franchise. It launched in 2016 across all major platforms with two DLC releases following. This was followed by PlayStation VR mystery game Deracine. 

Though Deracine was met with middling reviews, FromSoftware’s first post-Dark Souls release was a smashing success. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice earned very strong sales and 2019 Game of the Year honors by many outlets. 

A new title named Elden Ring directed by Miyazaki with story contributions from A Song of Ice and Fire writer George R.R. Martin was revealed in 2019. FromSoftware revealed very little about the game’s development after its initial announcement, but it launched in 2022 to overwhelmingly positive reviews and sales. It moved over 13 million units in the month after its release. While Dark Souls and Sekiro earned a positive reputation for FromSoftware, Elden Ring pushed the Japanese developer into becoming

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