Sunday, January 30, 2011

Blog Post: Nintendo, announce your Wii games!

Nintendo has always been a company that has kept their secrets up until the very last minute. Sometimes this makes sense: they don't want their secrets leaked. Other times, though, it's almost puzzling why Nintendo operates under a strategy that restricts the amount of hype and promotion their games receive. We have had them announce games less than 3 months in advance of their release dates. Anyone remember Excitebots? Game was apparently a good game but due to its rushed release and lack of promotion, nobody bought it, and they had to discontinue it. WarioLand: Shake It was the same way, it was announced right before its release, also failed to sell. This isn't new, in other words.

What inspired this blog post though has been the large amount of discussion among the Wii's small hardcore userbase for two Japanese RPGs that Nintendo has released for the system in Japan: Xenoblade last June, and of course The Last Story, just debuted to reportedly strong Japanese sales three days ago.

[Xenoblade's huge, fully explorable world seems like a perfect fit for Western RPG fans]

Despite the fact that these are not cheap games to make, despite the fact that two of the RPG industry veterans (Tetsuya Takahashi and Hironobu Sakaguchi) were behind them, despite the fact that these were designed for a worldwide audience, neither of them have yet been announced for a Western release. There have been some promising info leaks lately that hint at a Xenoblade localization taking place, which definitely makes a Last Story localization look likely as well, but for the 7 months since Xenoblade was released in Japan, we have not yet even gotten an announcement that the game was coming here. Why is Nintendo doing this? It can't be about "keeping the game secret," since giant portions of it can of course be found on Youtube by this point. It's just...I don't even know.

[Western gamers were pretty unanimous in their opinion that Final Fantasy 13 needed interactive towns...looks like Last Story has that covered.]

[....and so does Xenoblade. ]

Are these games really being localized or not? If they are being localized, why not announce them for all regions at the start so that at least their Western Wii fans have a sure thing to look forward to? It's very confusing to me that in an industry that seems to be moving in a much more global direction, Nintendo continues to take such an outdated stance on the release of their games. What do they have to gain by being so secretive about these two games? Most big games nowadays are confirmed for worldwide release before they are even released, Xenoblade has been out in Japan for 7 months and nothing.

If Nintendo really is bringing these two games to Western audiences, and they're being localized as we speak, then what does Nintendo have to gain by keeping it a secret? How is this helping them to market these games? I can't think of why it wouldn't a better idea to announce Western releases early so that they can provide us with the same amount of trailers and bits of info that they've used to hype up these games in Japan. Wouldn't it help in keeping actual gamers interested in their Wii systems knowing that there are two potentially very high-quality RPG experiences on the way?

[Xenoblade's world exists on top of two gods who are battling each other. Maybe it's just me but I think that's pretty rad...]

What I think is going to happen is that, if we're lucky, Xenoblade will be announced for a Summer release in the West...but that will only give them a very small amount of time to promote it, and it won't sell, because Nintendo has done very little to get people excited about it. Because it's apparently a good game, as is Last Story, and the Wii can always use more of those.

And then Nintendo wonders why people claim there are no good games on the system. We learned about the upcoming Mario Sports Mix last E3, and that's releasing next month....and that's a far smaller game than either of these. But since it has Mario in the title and it resembles Wii Sports, they promote the hell out of it. And people say Nintendo doesn't have any new IP. Well, there you go.

[The action-heavy battle system from The Last Story. A very Western touch.

To sum up, not every game can be released in the West, of course. There are some Japanese games that are such niche titles that they can't possibly be liked or understood overseas...there aren't many, but there are some. My problem here is that we have two games that were clearly designed with the intention of appealing to a global audience, like almost all big-budget games these days....I mean these are not Japanese dating sims, these are legitimate RPGs from developers who in the past have had very successful RPGs in the West. And these games are either not being released in the West or they're (for some reason) going to be kept hidden until the last minute. Why Nintendo thinks that this is an effective way to promote a game is a mystery. Nintendo: If you're bringing these games West, announce them! Let people know about them, promote them, and that's how you get successful games.

1 comment:

  1. there are many japanese games not released on the west because of what you just said. hopefully they'll come up with a good way to finally release them in the west. free wii points