Saturday, August 20, 2011

VG Talk #5 JRPGs aren't Dead they're just Spread


Video Game discussion.

Every now and then I notice a gaming site throwing around a particular phrase, "JRPGs are dead." I'm not exactly sure why this trend started but I can't help but disagree. Just to be clear: JRPG = Japanese Role Playing Game (Example: Final Fantasy).

Just to name a few recent titles (from the last 5 to 6 years) after only five minutes of research:
Final Fantasy XIII, Type-O, XIII-2, and XIII Versus
Kingdom Hearts 2, 358/2 Days, and Birth by Sleep
Persona 3 and 4
Devil Summoner 2
Digital Devil Saga 2
Catherine
Odin Sphere
Monster Hunter 3 portable, Tri, and 3 portable HD remaster for PS3
Pokemon Black, White, Heart Gold, Soul Silver
Dragon Quest IX and X
Tales of Abyss, Vesperia, Graces, and Xillia
Valkyria Chronicles 1, 2, and 3
Demon’s Souls
Resonance of Fate
Disgaea 3 and 4
Star Ocean: The Last Hope
Eternal Sonata
Rune Factory Series
Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn

That’s not even considering the more obscure titles or the countless titles that never got imported here in the US. I think it's clear from that list alone that JRPGs seem to be thriving and innovating to this day.

While the JRPG genre is anything but dead (more titles are being released here in the US than ever before) there is a serious threat to the genre: the spread over consoles. Back in the day, all major JRPGs appeared on the Super Nintendo. Later on, Playstation 1 and 2 took the genre under their wing. Each generation of gaming had a single console holding all of the major titles. This made it a breeze for players to get their hands on every major release. This generation of JRPGs however are spread out over the PS3, PSP, Wii, DS, 3DS, and soon enough the PS Vita. The majority of gamers here in the US don't own multiple consoles or multiple handhelds which means US sales are typically low unless it's a brand that's easily recognizable such as Final Fantasy. To make matters worse, handhelds are extremely popular in Japan (but not in the US) which translates to handheld exclusives that US players may never get the chance to play. This also translates into lower US sales which increases the chance of games not being localized or made in the future. Xenoblade Chronicles, Last Story, and Pandora Tower are the most recent and prominent examples of games that may never exist in the US (as of the time of this writing).

Bottom line: JRPGs aren't dead. If that was the case then it wouldn't be one of the most expansive genres in the last 5 years.

This is Kylak signing out and hoping you check out the list of games above. You might find a new favorite.

4 comments:

  1. I saw DQX. I immediately had to look up whether or not I missed its release. Thank God it still hasn't come out yet. Don't scare me like that man!!!!

    The phrase, "JRPGs are dying" is just awful in itself. What that basically says is, "The entire country of Japan is going to stop making RPGs altogether." That is so outlandish I don't even know what to think of it.

    I think the example on games that never got translated could be a justifiable form of piracy. It's not available in a format that's playable to you, so you download it, albeit illegally, with a fan translation so that you can enjoy it in your language. Essentially, the original company loses no money because you're a customer they didn't intend to make money on in the first place. If they watched the number of downloads for said translation, they could keep that in mind for future marketing. Not all of the people downloading will necessarily buy, but not all of the people that would buy will actually spend the time downloading. It still projects a small portion of the people in other countries that want to play though. Which is naturally encouraging.

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  2. Sorry about the scare. Haha. Maybe I should add a note about the list containing a few upcoming releases?

    That's the truth of the matter. Piracy is legit in that case. It's just a shame when the company already has proof of a massive market and still won't bring a localization. That's been the issue with Operation Rainfall, though there is rumor of Nintendo of America finally coming around thanks to all of their hard work.

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  3. Yeah, that completely makes sense. I can see the scare in translating though. It's a lot of money and a huge investment. Losing it can cost a company big. And, the truth is, Piracy is legit in the manner we're describing, when something is not legitimately available for your as it is, but otherwise Piracy could be playing a big role as to why we're not getting the games in the first place. If people are already playing them for free via translations, it's likely a lot of those same people aren't going to be willing to pay for it.

    The fact is, the numbers are just really sketchy. You can't tell how the percentages split. For a lot of companies, it's just simply better to not take the risk. Especially if they're making a sufficient amount of money in a local market.

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  4. Yeah, wish companies wouldn't give up on RPGs/titles. Localize by popular vote/preorders is a great idea and should be used more often.

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