Capcom: RPGs Just Don't Sell Very Well Outside Japan
Thankfully, the RPG drought ended at the end of 2008 with Fallout 3, Valkyria Chronicles and Eternal Sonata all releasing within a two-week span, but that doesn't mean role-playing fans are satisfied. No, they still want more; they want a return to the good ol' days of the original PlayStation. But according to Capcom, due to the fact RPGs have extreme difficulty gaining mainstream appeal in North America, you shouldn't hold your breath.
According to a recent interview with 1Up, Capcom's head of Research and Development, Keiji Inafune, argued that RPGs simply don't sell well enough outside Japan for developers to take the chance. His reply came hot on the heels of a question regarding the possible resurrection of Capcom's Breath of Fire franchise, and it won't be encouraging for role-playing aficionados:
"There are currently no plans on making a new Breath of Fire game. Apart from that, regarding RPG titles, they are very popular in Japan, but only certain RPG titles sell so Capcom doesn't really need to even consider making these titles as an option. There's a low possibility that we'll be making one in the near future."
Unfortunately, he's hardly the only industry executive who feels this way, as evidenced by the obvious lack of RPGs this generation. Perhaps everyone just wants more flash and faster action; perhaps they don't want to think nearly as much; perhaps they just want more button-mashing titles. Or, and this is a little less cynical, it might just be that other genres have come a long ways and are now just as deep and involving as many RPGs. Either way, Inafune lessens the blow a little by adding:
"But, I realize that there are fans of the series, and we have staff who are interested so it's not out of the question. We actually have a lot of titles in a similar situation, where there's an interest by users and our staff, but where we just don't have the resources. Square Enix and Namco Bandai have 1,200 development staff but we only have 600. There's a lot more that we want to do, titles that would probably sell well if we made them, but we just don't have enough staff."
So if you're wondering why you don't see many RPGs these days, turn to your fellow gamer and blame him. Ask him why he didn't buy the excellent Valkyria Chronicles when it released and when the answer is, "eh, it just didn't appeal to me," you will have your answer. None of this will stop FFXIII and FF Versus XIII from making a gigantic splash, though; we promise you that.
12/30/2008 Ben Dutka