Whats this? Yet another FE X SMT blog? Yes I was inspired by a comment I read in this article:
it's an interesting concept to tackle for sure, the game has been at the centre of some controversy ever since details about it were revealed especially since it seems to have deviated from its original concept. In most cases I would agree with OverlordZetta, god knows we need more people to step out of their comfort zones and buy new and unique titles. I want more games like Okami than whatever Ubisoft craps out every year but in this case things might look different than they seem. An issue must be addressed about whether it's truly the fault of people who just can't get over the Japanese aesthetics. I ask this because I think the fault actually lies on the game itself for being so damn inaccessible. There's a line that should be drawn on when we should stop blaming the market and instead start analyzing why the game is being ignored.
The first thing most apparent about the game is that it is a JRPG, a genre that doesn't have the widest market appeal. Now immediately you'll probably think of Pokemon, Final Fantasy, dragon quests; all JRPG who have sold million and seem to refute my claims but what do they all have in common? They're all long lasting franchises, starting out in an era where JRPGs were trendy and now they're selling partial on name recognition alone. We’ve also lost a lot of JRPG franchises like Suikoden, Golden Sun and the Chrono series due to lack of interest. We constantly hear from developers about how expensive localization is and how little profit they get in return. Tales producer Hideo Baba said that"Fifteen years ago, you saw a great variety of games coming out for the PSOne. But nowadays, you can count the number of games on one hand." For every successful new JRPG like Ni no kuni you get a larger number of new IPs that are forgotten immediately. In the current market JRPGs simply don't appeal to gamers as much as Shooters or Sandbox games do.
Well this is pretty self explanatory, it is apparent that the Wiiu is one of Nintendos worst selling consoles. Compare to the PS4 and XBone (40.75 mill. & 21.11mill. ) the WiiU is only selling 13.14 milllion despite being a year older. To put this into perspective even the PS Vita outsells the WiiU with 13.91 million. The number of WiiU games that sold over 1 million are all Nintendo games and the only new ip is Splatoon. Well recieved 3rd party exclusives like ZombiU and Bayonetta 2 were not very profitable and even Nintendo's Super Mario 3D World had the weakest first week sales in the 3D franchise. There's a reason why Ubisoft dropped support after a year and there is no 3rd party games, because making an AAA WiiU exclusive game is practically giving it a death sentence.
The 3rd reason was that they originally announced the game as a SMT and FE crossover game. Now that might be a weird idea to grasp, you get 2 awesome things and combine then, shouldn't they be super awesome then? This situation is rather similar to when Professor Layton VS Ace Attorney game was announced, fans were hyped. Heck I was super hyped too and yet it resulted in worst sales than other titles in the franchise. The reason for this anomaly can be represented by this Venn Diagram
The crossover game immediately targeted fans of both franchises, and was rather inaccessible to people who didn't know all the details about the game. Is it a direct crossover with old characters? Do you need to play the other games to get the context? Which systems are they on? A lot of research needs to be conducted and to the average gamer its just simply not worth the hassle. A similar situation arose for SMT x FE because at the time it directly showed characters from SMT4 and FE:Awakening and no furthur details were given so the same questions were asked. In the end what we have instead is a game that appealed to hardcore fans who played both series and not to casual gamers.
4.Its no longer a crossover game
The wait after the announcement was agonizing, months of radio silence followed and people feared the title was scrapped. Then E3 arrived and we got our first glance of the game.
The immediately reaction was utter confusion; what are we looking at, is this a new game, where are the SMT and the FE influences? Then Nintendo retroactively withdrew their original statement and issued this tweet.
Now a lot of shit was flung around; a lot of the hardcore fans were upset about how the the game seemingly retains little elements from both games and weren't interested in this new title. Other criticized them for being entitled because after all the developers didn't promise anything at all. Again this situation mirrors the Banjo Kazooie fiasco, for those who aren't aware Banjo Kazooie was a very popular N64 series that was acquired by Microsoft during the Rare buyout. Like "Tokyo" it too got an announcement trailer for a new banjo game and there was complete silence months later with fans fearing cancellation. Then when it was revealed to be a car racing fans were not happy, as JonTron puts it:
Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts was recieved critically well but it sold a lot less then the other games and seemingly appeared to have killed the franchise. The point I'm trying to make here is that Atlus handled the announcement poorly. You don't hype up Banjo Threeie just to sell Banjo Kart and you don't hype up SMT X FE just to sell a pop idol RPG with fire emblem cameos. If the developers didn't want to be misinterpreted they should have clarified during these months of silence. It could even be something as simple as showing some concept art so fans would have an idea of what to expect instead of letting them speculate on their own. If the game was too early in development then don't announce it until you've something substantial to show.
What Atlus should have done was take notes on how Koei Tecmo presented their exclusive title.When Nintendo gave them the right to use Zelda, their first instinct wasn’t to immediately announce it as Dynasty Warriors X Zelda with no further details. Instead they sat down, shut up and made a workable build to show at a Nintendo Direct. Then they had Satoru Iwata himself clearly stating it was a spinoff game, a dynasty warrior game with Zelda characters and nothing more. For this they were rewarded with glowing critical reception from the fanbase and over 1 million in sales, a number that surprised even Koei Tecmo themselves. If “Tokyo” was simply initially announced as what it actually was instead of being teased as the ultimate crossover then there wouldn’t be this much controversy.
5.Clash of Cultures
I commented that the presence of pop idol girls would be lost on most people because it’s a concept that's not really present in Western Culture and in response I got this reply.
It’s an interesting reply for sure, technically we do live in a world that revolves around the lifes of celebrities but there is a big enough difference between the 2 sides that sets them apart. The first problem we have to consider is age of consent, while it varies from districts the Japanese Penal Code sets the minimal age of consent to 13 while in Western Culture it is around 18 years old. Thats why it’s still socially acceptable to sexualize middle/high-school girls in popular anime and manga.
Another difference is the East and West perception, Japanese Idols are more hardcore than the ones found in the here. Japan likes to mantain a sense of purity in their idols, they market them as virgins with no love experience and fans like to perceive them as a girl next door type. What this means is that while highschool pop idols like Hannah Montanna are appealing to tweens.
Japanese teen pop idols are appealing to middle age otakus.
The whole Japanese idol industry is so extreme that AKB48’s Minami Minegishi was demoted when she was found to be dating a member from a boyband. In response to the backlash she shaved her head and issued an apology to her fans, this made news worldwide because the whole concept was just so baffling to the western audience.
I mention because while the localisation team hastily change the characters from “Tokyo” to 18 they were clearly intended to be 17 and they still look like highschool students. The sexualization of minors and the hardcore idol marketing means it's definitely not the same as the western pop idol industry and would still alienate the average gamer.
I’ve decided to conduct a survey among my friends of various gaming experience to see if they are even aware of the game's existence.
While these results definitely aren’t an accurate representation of the market they do provide some valuable insight to the issue at hand. The average gamer are more aware of Fire Emblem and knows nothing about SMT or “Tokyo”, while embarrassingly not all fans of SMT or Fire Emblem or even a Nintendo employee knows the name of the crossover title. The few people familiar with “Tokyo” happen to be hardcore gamers and Japanese culture fans, a niche part of the market.
The takeaway here is that while Fire Emblem is more well known due to it’s inclusion in Smash Bros and the later titles being more accessible, SMT is by no means a household name and is still a rather obscure title.I suspect there's going to be a lot of disagreement with what I’ve written and a lot of counterpoint. I want to specify that while exceptions to certain points exist, I am not arguing that there is one sole reason for the inaccessibility of “Tokyo”. It is is the entire sum of all the factors I’ve listed that contributes to the games obscurity to make a game that’s has a very narrow market appeal and it's not simply the fault of people being prudes.
But hey who knows the game could defy all explanation and sell well, I would love to be proven wrong. In the end the only way to truly know the truth is to see how well it does when it launches in the west.
Also here's a funny rant from my friend