Koei Company, Limited (株式会社コーエー Kabushiki-gaisha Kōē), formerly 光栄 (Kōei)) (TYO: 9654) is a Japanese video game publisher and developer founded in 1978. The company is best known for its historical simulation games based on the novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, as well as simulation games based on historical events.
The company has also found mainstream success in a series of loosely historical action games, the flagship titles of which are Dynasty Warriors (真・三國無双 (Shin-Sangoku Musō)) and Samurai Warriors (戦国無双 (Sengoku Musō)), the Musō (無双) series. Koei also owns a division known as Ruby Party, which focuses in dating sim games.
A running trend in all of their games is having one of their characters say, "It is a glorious honor" or "It is a honor" (光栄です, Kōei desu), at one point in the game's script.
Koei was established in July 1978 by Yoichi Erikawa 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 to this day is located in the Hiyoshi area of Yokohama along with Erikawa's alma mater, and the company's name is simply a spoonerism of the school's.
Kō Shibusawa and Eiji Fukuzawa, whose names are supposed to have made up the name of the company, do not really exist and are names used by the company to avoid giving credit to individual contributors, effectively acting as alter-egos for Erikawa.
The company initially focused on personal computer sales and made-to-order business software. 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 Corporation, in California. This subsidiary localized Koei games for export to all territories outside of 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.
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.
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 TV 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 TV series based on it began airing in October 2006. A sequel was also released on the Sony Playstation 2 in March 2007.
On September 4, 2008, Koei announced that it was in talks to purchase ailing competitor Tecmo. They have 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 will form on April 1, 2009 as planned. On March 18, 2010, Koei-Techmo won the 3rd FOST award for utilizing extensive research in their products and making them appealing to contemporary audiences.
For the Japanese voices, Koei prefers to cast from Aoni Production and they are often credited in many of their newer titles.