What does SSV even means? Well:
Something, Something, Videogames
It's supposed to be the title of my blogs now and in the future, but it felt obnoxious to put it squarely like that in my first blog ever (not only in Destructoid but EVER). However, being the probably obnoxious I am I just needed to put in the abbreviation just because.
Anyways. jumping to the main topic:
Why Xillia Might Kill Tales in the West:
Well, first things first. When I say "kill" I don't mean "kill". This is just clickbait to get you to comedown and read the beginning of this blog. Hope my honesty keeps you reading. However, by "kill" I do mean beating the Tales franchise too much trying to get those coins to pop out. And just as I always scream at my brother every times he continues hitting one of those coin blocks in Mario after it dried up, I am now screaming at Bamco for their perhaps disastrous treatment of the Tales franchise.
First, let us discuss some key facts.
The Tales games are well loved by a wide niche in the western market (which Saudi is weirdly part off). Nonetheless, they are still a niche audience. According to the fantasies of VGC, Xillia sold 0.39 million copies outside of Japan. Graces F sold 0.41 million in comparison.
Another key fact, from a consumer prospective, the majority of those sales are early on in release, and a significant number of them are limited editions. Retailers in Saudi Arabia literally run out of the games 2 hours after they restock them.
Both these facts suggest that:
a) You are selling a niche product.
b) That the clientele of said niche product is consistent and willing to buy it quickly.
Now, here is why I see Bamco severely Harming Tales in the West:
1-Scarcity, or Lack Thereof:
Does this title even make sense. How can you lack scarcity? Isn't the definition of scarcity "lacking thereof"?
I digress. Graces F and Xillia had 1 year and 5 months between them. Before that, you had a serous starvation of Tales games in the market. Now, Chronicles is being released less than a year after Xillia, and Xillia 2 will be released in 2014 followed by yet another game in 2015.
In Japan, these games were strategically placed within at least a year between each other. However, due to the localization effort (or lack thereof) the spacing in Western release dates is terrible.
Fans were seriously starved for Tales games. However, now they will be in the unfamiliar situation of being full from it. Simply put, Bamco is fatiguing its own series by releasing these games too close to each other. They might end up doing the classical mistake of milking the cow too dry, and then having to shoot it or reboot it (FF14).
Here is a tip to RPG developers. You think it is cool to make a 60+ game where you get to know the characters, the world, and the color of underwear the NPC in the fifth city smoking a cigar is wearing. Then, you think that it is cool to expand the story into the same world, putting in a lot of the same characters. Well dear developers, it is not cool.
This is RPG land, and that NPC won't change his pink things into crimson bloomers. Really, games seldom have great stories. And hence those stories seldom needs revisiting. The first time you play a game, you tend to forgive its flaws. However, by the end of playing it, you won't forget them.
Here is the deal with Tales games. Most people playing them enjoys it. They enjoy the world, the setting, and the combat. They enjoy the character designs, the customization, and the quests. However, they merely tolerate the story and the main character. By the time any Tales game end, I simply loath the terrible cliched husk of an anime archetype the protagonist is.
Double dipping with the same protagonist is not my idea of fun.
Apparently, it is not the idea with a lot of people as Xillia 2 fails to meet the first one's sales in Japan (and probably in the west as well). It is not an isolated incident as well.
Another very famous JRPG lost a lot of fans every direct sequel as it slogged on in its arrogant image of something something nova something or whatever.
3-Milking their Customer's:
This might perhaps be the biggest problem here.
Simply put, the Tales games have an ancient tradition of fooling around with costumes and silly quests. Earning those costumes and looking for those silly quests was always a huge part of what makes Tales games fun.
It was the case for all games for me until playing Xillia:
I get locking a few costumes as DLC. I get having seasonal costumes as well. But having only TWO BLOODY COSTUMES FOR ONLY TWO CHARACTER IN THE ENTIRE GAME. And then you have the nerve of giving me a free alternate color scheme instead of giving me a painting application.
Seriously, the cost of all costumes in Xillia is $82.69 which becomes 117.1 if you add in the micro-transaction like DLC.
Get this, the cost of all the DLC costumes is more than the cost of the game itself, even if you ordered the premium edition. What was a traditonal bonus for playing the game more and discovering its secret is now a monetizing scheme by Bamco.
It's only costumes you say, but costumes were always fun to have and free in previous Tales games. It was a feature. In fact, reviewers of the product should mention clearly that there is a lack of bonus items whatsoever in the game.
What else, relegating the bonus dungeon and the master weapons to DLC as well?
Also, speaking of that Micro-transaction DLC. FIVE dollars for 10 levels or 300,000 Gald. Here is where it gets hairy. After playing Xillia I can assure you that both are not needed at all in the game. If you need to level up to beat a boss or need better items, simply reduce the difficulty (if you still can't at the easiest level then spare your money for a brain surgeon instead).
However, what should assure me that the next Tales won't make it monotonous to grind for EXP or money in the game. What should assure me that I can change the difficulty at any time (yay difficulty DLC).
What I come with from Xillia's DLC practices is a new distrust for Bamco, and a reluctance to buy new from them again. I was always a day one limited edition customer of Tales games, but this complete disregard for my fandom, and the blatant attempt at capitalizing on fans feeling for the game disgusts me.
I appreciate the difficulties developers and publishers face, and I appreciate their desire to make more money out of their product. Hell, I would be perfectly fine with paying an extra $10 on niche games if the publishers were forthcoming about it and I got all what I expect from those games. What I don't appreciate is the blatant withholding of content for reselling purposes that Bamco does with its DLC.
The Conclusion in Which Little is Concluded:
Well this is it for my first Blog is Destructoid. Hope you liked it all.
It sucks that its an "angry" blog, as it seems the fashion these days. I hope I write happier blogs in the days to come.
The Tales games have always been a guilty pleasure of mine. They are the Dynasty Warriors of RPGs, and I liked each and every one I played from them. Like Dynasty Warriors, they have cultivated a loyal setting of fans. I see Bamco misusing both its fans and its franchise, which is sad because I know that Hideo Baba really puts his heart and soul into these games.
Here is hoping we manage to pick up one brick of the wall.