|Founded||25 July 1978|
|Defunct||April 1, 2010|
|Fate||Merged with Tecmo|
|Successor||Koei Tecmo Games|
|Products||List of Koei Tecmo games|
Koei Co., Ltd. was a Japanese video game publisher, developer, and distributor founded in 1978. The company is known for its Dynasty Warriors games based on the novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, as well as simulation games based on pseudo-historical events.
The company has also found mainstream success in a series of loosely historical action games, the flagship titles of which are the Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors series, also known as the Musō series. Koei also owns a division known as Ruby Party, which focuses on otome games.
On April 1, 2009, Koei merged with Tecmo to form the Tecmo Koei Holdings holding company. Koei changed its name to Tecmo Koei Games on April 1, 2010 by absorbing Tecmo, and again on July 1, 2014, to Koei Tecmo Games.
Koei was established in July 1978 by Yōichi Erikawa (also known as Kou Shibusawa) and Keiko Erikawa. Yoichi was a student at Keio University, and when his family's rural dyestuffs business failed, he decided to pursue his interest in programming. The company has remained located in the Hiyoshi area of Yokohama.
The company initially focused on personal computer sales and made-to-order business software. In 1982, the company released the erotic title (eroge) Seduction of the Condominium Wife (団地妻の誘惑, Danchi Tsuma no Yūwaku), which was an early role-playing adventure game with color graphics, owing to the eight-color palette of the PC-8001 computer. It became a hit, helping Koei become a major software company. In March the same year Koei released Underground Exploration, the earliest known Japanese RPG. In 1983 it released Nobunaga's Ambition (信長の野望, Nobunaga no Yabō), a historical strategy game set during the Sengoku period of Japanese history. The game went on to receive numerous awards, and Koei produced several more such games set against the backdrop of world history, including Romance of the Three Kingdoms, set during the Three Kingdoms period of Chinese history, and Uncharted Waters (大航海時代, Dai Kōkai Jidai, lit. Great Navigation Era), set in Portugal during the Age of Exploration.
In 1988, Koei established a North American subsidiary, Koei America Corporation, in California. This subsidiary localized Koei games for export to all territories outside Japan, as well as producing original games and concepts with the leadership of designer Stieg Hedlund, like Liberty or Death, Celtic Tales: Balor of the Evil Eye, Gemfire and Saiyuki: Journey West. After Hedlund's departure, this subsidiary ceased game development in 1995, focusing instead on localization, sales and marketing.
Though none of Koei's historical simulations achieved mass market success, they acquired a loyal cult following. This following allowed Koei to remain profitable, since they could reliably predict how many copies of their games would sell (especially important during the cartridge era, when a surplus of unsold cartridges on a single game was often enough to bankrupt a company).
A Canadian subsidiary, Koei Canada, Inc. was established in early 2001, and a European subsidiary, Koei Limited was established in early 2003 in Hertfordshire, United Kingdom. Koei also maintains subsidiaries in mainland China, Korea, Taiwan and Lithuania. Recently, Koei created a Singapore branch for game development such as Sangokushi Online.
All Koei operations in English in turn ceased in 2012, with the previously unannounced closing of Koei's North American support forums and website. They resumed in 2016, with the English language PC release of Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIII.
Koei's Ruby Party division specializes on games labeled as Neoromance: GxB dating sims, usually with extra side-quests. Out of the three Neoromance series, the best known is Angelique, which has been in production since 1994. Harukanaru Toki no Naka de is a newer Neoromance hit, with many sequels and an anime television series based on it. The newest game in the series, Kin'iro no Corda, is gaining popularity partially because the manga series it was based on, has been recently licensed by Viz for English language publishing. It gaining more popularity though, and an anime television series based on it began airing in October 2006. A sequel was also released on the PlayStation 2 in March 2007.
On September 4, 2008, Koei announced that it was in talks to purchase ailing competitor Tecmo. They agreed in November 2008 to merge on April 1, 2009 to form Tecmo Koei Holdings. On January 26, 2009 the two companies approved the merger, the holding company formed on April 1, 2009 as planned.
On April 1, 2010, Koei absorbed Tecmo and renamed itself Tecmo Koei Games. Koei's subsidiaries in the United States, Europe and Korea already had their names changed months before the Japanese parent. On March 15, 2010, the developing operations of Koei and Tecmo were spun off as new companies under the names of Koei Co, Ltd and Tecmo Co, Ltd respectively, but they were integrated into Tecmo Koei Games the following year, on April 1, 2011.
Koei has built a large base of franchises, and has developed on various consoles and computers. Below is a list of game series developed by Koei.