Ben's Week In Review: September 8
I'm back and I'm tired (going cross-country in about two and a half days will do that to you), but the Week in Review must go on!
1.4 million isn't bad, but is it enough?
We learned this past week that the excellent effort from Level-5 and Studio Ghibli, Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, had managed to sell 1.4 million units. That's impressive for two reasons: Firstly, we're talking about a niche genre that has been on the decline for years. JRPGs have suffered critically and financially, so this title's success is like a beacon for the fans. Secondly, it's always great when a top-notch new IP is given the respect it deserves. With that respect comes decent, if not fantastic, sales. However, all this being said, is it enough to prove that such games can continue to exist and flourish? It'd also be interesting to know how many people bought Ni no Kuni in this country; what percentage of those 1.4 million copies were sold here? I think it's higher than some might think.
For my part, I believe it proves that there is an audience for such games, although it's obviously quite a bit smaller than the mainstream markets. What does this mean for the future? I think it means teams like Level-5 and Studio Ghibli will continue to churn out titles that cater specifically to that niche group of followers. The games might go full-on downloadable, and the allocated funds for each project may drop off, but the passion will still be there. I just worry if the future market can sustain that passion, especially if it's only a relatively small group that harbors such intense adoration.
And speaking of smaller fan bases...
It was disappointing to hear that Sega currently has no plans to bring Yakuza 5 to the US or Europe. The game launched late last year in Japan, and fans 'round these parts have been used to waiting at least a year for localization. But this time, it seems Sega won't bring us the latest sequel at all, and that's tough to take. But the reasoning behind such a decision is pretty obvious, isn't it? Bringing the game here wouldn't be worthwhile to Sega. They'd invest a certain amount of money to get the localization done and ship it to US stores, and in the end, they'd probably struggle to make much on the game. While the series has received solid critical scores here, sales haven't been great. Therefore, should we really be tossing a lot of ire Sega's way? If I was Sega, I wouldn't localize Yakuza 5, either.
It's nice to see that it's appreciated by many, but there just aren't enough of those people. At least, not in this country. Let's face it: Yakuza is extremely Japanese in nature; it's immersed in the Japanese culture and all the narratives focus specifically on Japanese settings, characters and situations. I'm not sure any of the games even had an option for English voices. These days, that's a tough sell in any country outside of Japan. Maybe we should just accept that, as sad as it is.
Personal gaming update
I've been wicked busy so I didn't get a chance to play much of anything, but my Vita got a lot of use on the trip. I played Hot Shots Golf: World International and Wipeout 2048 on the plane rides, and that was a great way to pass the time. I also read a lot, but having the Vita along was a definite bonus. I did get a chance to play more Madden NFL 25, so you'll see a review for that this week, and then there's the upcoming reviews for Killzone: Mercenary and yes, Grand Theft Auto V, which I should have toward the end of this week. The fall lineup, coupled with the new generation, is going to be totally nuts, of course.
By the way, if you missed it, I have to remind everyone- Don't forget about Splinter Cell: Blacklist. If you're a stealth fan, you can't miss it. And followers of the series will be happy to know that Conviction is in the past, and we finally get a proper SC entry. It really does feel like the true successor to Chaos Theory.
Lastly, a big thanks to David Nelson (aka WorldEndsWithMe) he put up a bunch of stuff while I was gone. It just would've been too hard for me to work during the trip. :)
9/7/2013 Ben Dutka