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Are The Days Of Big-Budget JRPGs Dead And Gone Forever?

It's not that JRPGs are dead. Some could argue that they're dying, but given the loyal albeit niche followers, the sub-genre probably (hopefully) won't disappear entirely.

However, the days of big-budget JRPGs may be gone. I just can't conceive of huge AAA JRPGs on the next-generation platforms. What we already see in this generation is that most are obviously on the lower budget end of development. This is primarily why they haven't matched up with the rest of the industry in terms of technical proficiency, and why in turn they have fallen from favor in the eyes of many critics.

Unfortunately, these days, most see JRPGs as either strictly for kids or mostly for the anime fans, which hardly constitute the majority of gamers. This is a very different ecosystem than it was fifteen or twenty years ago, and we have to accept that. One could argue that Final Fantasy will always be big-budget but at this rate, we probably won't be able to call future installments in that franchise "role-playing games." Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII might loosely qualify as action/RPG but there's almost no doubt that Square Enix is taking a more action-oriented approach with each new installment. Nobody knows why, but whatever.

Beyond that, what is there? Does everyone remember when Legend of Dragoon was being advertised? The number of people working on it, how much money it was costing, the sheer amount of time spent in development, etc. The game eventually shipped on four CDs and although it didn't exactly bring down high review scores, it was widely regarded by many JRPG fans to be fantastic. I just can't see JRPGs having the same budget and workforce behind them anymore. No team is going to risk losing a ton of money on a big PS4 title, not when the common belief is that JRPGs just aren't popular enough for a significant return.

Sadly, I think smaller niche productions are the most we can hope for, and I think the majority of any JRPGs in the new generation will be digital-only or designed exclusively for handhelds.

Tags: jrpgs, japanese rpgs, japanese role playing games, gaming industry

3/28/2013 11:31:52 PM Ben Dutka

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Comments (32 posts)

TheAgingHipster
Thursday, March 28, 2013 @ 11:47:34 PM
Reply

I think we can still hope, Ben. With Wada gone, Squeenix may actually turn around Final Fantasy and start producing the type of games we've been wanting since X.

In the meantime, I've been getting my RPG fix on the PC. Baldur's Gate: Enhanced has been loads of fun, and BG2:Enhanced is on the horizon. Then there's Project Eternity, the new Torment... man, it's gonna be a great couple of years for RPGers on the PC.

And, if worse comes to worse, you could always join the Tabletop RPG fold. We've got room at the table for you....

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dmiitrie
Friday, March 29, 2013 @ 2:04:33 AM

I don't share your enthusiasm that a post-Wada SE can or will right that ship. While I'm sure that'll be a big improvement, I seem to recall Ben reporting on several people at SE other than Wada who echoed his sentiments on bringing FF to a more action-oriented position.

However, I'm totally with you about of RPGs. Though they're not JRPGs, people who yearn for a return to classic, turn-based mechanics have few options better than Kickstarter. Between games like Shadowrun Returns, Xenonaughts, Project Eternity, Torment, Shroud of the Avatar, and Divinity: Original Sin, there's a real renaissance for old school RPGs through crowd funding.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, March 29, 2013 @ 12:01:50 AM
Reply

Sadly SE, in cahoots with MS, destroyed the genre this generation through various unscrupulous means. They denied some titles a PS3 release and created some sort of atrocity with FFXIII that was not to be the foretold herald of JRPG success that spurs other devs forward with their hopes and dreams.

Well if FF is falling apart then JRPGs must not be what people want right? Wrong. There hasn't been a contender yet, just a few decent pretenders that got too westernized. If SE does a 180 and makes a AAA FF that maintains what it was then it won't matter if you are an anime fan or whatever, a good game with a proven mechanic and epic story WILL sell well.

The problem is a multifaceted one as to why JRPGs suddenly became less popular, but basically it was because they were forced into being something they were not and thus a product nobody asked for or wants.

The right direction by SE could turn things right back around and have FF pulling down unimaginable numbers yet again which would spur on others to continue franchises like Grandia, Dragoon, Suikoden, Chrono, etc.

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maxpontiac
Friday, March 29, 2013 @ 12:12:18 AM
Reply

I have said this multiple times when JRPG is the topic at hand and I believe that unless a JRPG caters to both the hardcore fans and the Skyrim type of players at the same time, the genre is doomed.

There is no reason why Final Fantasy can't treat the hardcore fans with respect and offer OPTIONS to make the game like Skyrim when it comes to the combat, etc.

SE is going the action/RPG route with Lightning Returns because frankly, these games have the potential to sell a ton of copies.

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Highlander
Friday, March 29, 2013 @ 12:34:38 AM
Reply

I have to say that I think the answer is yes, the days of the big budget JRPG are done. Even first party titles can't hope for decent support from publishers, which translates into lack luster sales and poor performance overall.

Let me give you an example of one of the reasons I think the genre is dying, or at least reverting to being a niche genre and no longer AAA. This is a personal example for me, because it involves a game you all know I love. White Knight Chronicles.

White Knight Chronicles 2 is a first party title that was actually co developed by Sony Japan and Level 5. The game IP is owned by Sony, and the game was published in JPN and Asia by SCEJ, in the EU SCEE did the job, they also handled the localization. In NA, SCEA declined to publish the game. D3 was broght in to handle the game in NA because SCEA would not.

However, even though the game is a Sony property, and despite the fact that SCEE had already localized the game, D3 re-localized it. English, French and spanish localizations already existed in the EU version, and yet D3 re-did it. Sadly they did only a partial job, and the two versions of the game (EU and NA) were not the same, they could talk to each other and share a server, but the differences had dire consequences for the game later.

WKC2 was release with next to no marketing push, or publicity. Unfortunately, the early reviews of the game were quite frankly terribly written, and in some cases factually incorrect reviews. The publisher did nothing to correct or mitigate these reviews. Once the game was out, the online portion of the game is based in a service called geonet. This facilitates online questing, and includes message board functionality and bmail - a sort of email-lite. Unfortunately D3 who as well as publishing the game handled the server, did nothing to support the game online. There was no server maintenance, no moderation of the in-game message board, very little to non action taken for grief reports, no action to prevent cheating, and an absolute lack of communication with users of the service. Basically the game was launched, and more or less dropped by D3. The single exception to this is the guild system that was delivered. This was an absolute promise made before the game was published, and consequently, D3 had to deliver it. However, other than that patch, none of the additional DLC that was made available to customers in Japan ever made it to EU or NA players of WKC2.

Despite the fact that the game sold more copies outside Japan, than it did inside Japan, only Japanese customers got the additional quests. This is where the localization woes come back to bite everyone. Had everyone used the Sony localization that SCEE distributed, it would have been possible to bring game patches and additional content from Japan because the game that they distributed had all the hooks and stubbs needed for the additional content. The NA version is different though. The disc distributed does not contain that material, because D3 failed to put it there. Si, no additional content for anyone outside Japan. It would have been possible to still bring that content by patching the game, however that would have meant additional coding and testing, and by that time D3 were not interested in spending money on the game, only collecting revenue from it.

Unfortunatley, the Internet being what it is, it was impossible for players here not to know about the content in Japan. Players got dissatisfied and started to leave the game. D3 made public statements to the effect that no more content would be coming, and even more players left. The WKC2 community attempted to gain the attention of the publishers to request the additional content be localized in a last ditch effort to save the game. Copies of a petition and letter were distributed in writing to SCEA, SCEI, D3 Publisher and Level 5 International. Not one of them even bothered to acknowledge that communication.

Now to wrap up this tail of woe, D3P announced that they are killing the game server(s) for WKC and WKC2 on June 18th 2013. Not even 2 years will have passed for NA customers before the service is killed. The game still has a core group of regular player and fans. This was communicated by Facebook. D3 could not even figure out how to disseminate the news via the game server itself. D3 says that SCEA, SCEE and SCEJ were all involved in the decision, but we have no indication why the service is being killed so quickly.

Whatever the reasons behind the server closure the point is that it is further evidence of how little commitment Sony (SCEA) was willing to give it's OWN JRPG game. D3 did a frankly horrible job of publishing and supporting the game.

Remember this was supposed to be a AAA first party JRPG for the PS3 co-developed by Sony and Level 5. And yet SCEA could not bring itself to even publish it.

That right there is a perfect example of why the JRPG genre has diminished, no support, no push, no drive, no commitment from Sony, game publishers or game makers. Had Sony really put their weight behind the game, and given it even a tiny bit of marketing, sales could and would have been stronger. Had there been better support of the online experience, the game would have a far larger online audience now that it does. If you ask players of WKC2, they'll tell you how skeptical they are of buying further JRPGs from anyone involved in this fiasco.

You could mention FFXIV and it's failure to launch, FFXIII which turned out not to be much of a JRPG, though perhaps a good game in it's own right. Square Enix' fall from grace has been spectacular and has hurt the JRPG genre too.

The most successful JRPGs this generation have been the niche titles like the Atelier series from NISA.

So, with a combination of lack luster AAA titles, poor support from publishers and Sony, and a rise in RPGs from western developers, the JRPG is in an awful lot of trouble. Not to mention that gaming tastes have shifted to the faster flashier games. It seems that there is little room for big JRPGs any more, reviewers seem to enjoy ripping them, and gamers seem to enjoy looking down on them. The fans of the JRPG have a hard time being heard, and even publishers ignore them.

After high profile failures and the issues games like WKC have had, I can't see any developer or publisher willing to risk 10s of millions of dollars on a new JRPG.

Sad really.

And yes, before anyone asks I am upset about the termination of WKC, it's a unique game, the people that enjoy it, really appreciate the game for what it is, and the community within it. That community is pretty much dead after D3s announcement.

So, no more AAA JRPGs in my view except perhaps FFXIV ARR - assuming SE finishes the game. It's a pretty poor time to be a fan of the JRPG.

Last edited by Highlander on 3/29/2013 12:35:47 AM

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Shams
Friday, March 29, 2013 @ 3:00:09 AM

Very interesting read, Highlander. I would go even further to suggest many other genres and subgenres have suffered this generation. Sony's early-on initiative to generously support first party and 2nd party and indie software was the best thing to happen to the brand, and the industry, imho. It guaranteed diverse library and evolving R&D and a sanctuary in the face of overwhelming trends of stagnation inundating the market. At some point, this initiative became 2nd priority to other projects, in a desperate move to match the ultimately ephemeral trends that the competitors were pushing. If precious resources were not wasted on such things, like I said before, the library would've not suffered nearly as much, and a good number of genres and talented studios that supported them would've survived, and even thrived.

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Highlander
Friday, March 29, 2013 @ 3:35:14 AM

Agreed Shams, a lot of older genre have suffered at the hands of the mainstream trends including the impact of mobile and casual gaming.

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ethird1
Friday, March 29, 2013 @ 3:11:47 AM
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Ni No Kuni was huge. Tales of Graces was huge. Tales of Villia or whatever it's name is coming soon. Now that the PS3 is out in large numbers you will see the rpg,s come more often. It's the Ps4 rpg,s you better worry about

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Highlander
Friday, March 29, 2013 @ 3:17:50 AM

White Knight 1 has still sold more copies than Ni No Kuni, so how huge is Ni No Kuni again?

AAA games can't survive on 1 million copies sold, not today, not with the costs they have to make them. Ni No Kuni has a ways to go before getting to 1 mil.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, March 29, 2013 @ 8:22:16 AM

Good games but not "huge"

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Underdog15
Friday, March 29, 2013 @ 8:26:20 AM

I agree with world.

As for nnk, it had significant digital sales and had a ds release in jp that did very well. Wkc had no digital version. So well never know which sold more. Nnk was clearly a better game though.

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xenris
Friday, March 29, 2013 @ 11:16:34 AM

White knight Chronicles 1 was released 3 years ago so that seems like an unfair comparison. The longer a game is out the more time it has to make sales.

Even still NNK has sold really well for a JRPG in the two months it has been out. Estimates for sales are at least 1 million when you take into account digital sales as PSN it was on the top sales list.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Friday, March 29, 2013 @ 11:28:41 AM

None of those are "huge." Case closed.

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Highlander
Friday, March 29, 2013 @ 11:40:38 AM

Xenris, something like 80% (or more) of the lifetime sales of a game come within the 1st two months. You can draw conclusions after 2 months.

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xenris
Friday, March 29, 2013 @ 3:04:29 PM

Highlander, really? Dragon age: Origins sales graph was a constant up and down a smooth curve a year or more after its launch. Dragon Age 2 spiked for one month and then plummeted. I think the quality of the game dictates whether or not sales continue or not.

Don't know where you pulled 80% from but I dont think that that is always the case.

Also triple A games can totally survive on 1million copy sales. The witcher 2 sold 1 million copies, and that was enough to profit for CDprojekt red. Enough in fact that they have the money to build an entire new engine for The Witcher 3 and make a whole new game cyberpunk.

The argument that AAA games are super expensive is a bunch of balogna. This late in a console generation using engines that are 5 plus years old? Come on industry veterans moved to kickstarter because they were sick of this. They only need 1 million - 3 million dollar budgets to make great games. That would mean that they would profit from even 500 000 if they charged 60 bucks for it. Games cost money but largely publishers are either wasting it or the profits from the game need to be high so that the quarterly profits are up to keep shareholders happy and the corporation "profitable"

You can make top notch high quality games without spending 100 million dollars in your budget. Indy devs are proving this more and more as time passes.

Last edited by xenris on 3/29/2013 3:07:40 PM

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Highlander
Friday, March 29, 2013 @ 5:01:57 PM

Xenris, I'm basing that estimate on the sales graphs on all the PS3 games lifetime sales charts I've ever looked at. If you look, you'll see a nice high spike, that sustains for some weeks and then it will fall rapidly. They are a generally speaking perfect example of the number of sales changing in inverse proportion to the time passing. Sometimes there is a long tail, but generally speaking the tail is a small fraction of the overall sales.

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xenris
Friday, March 29, 2013 @ 6:35:15 PM

There is always going to be a spike that much is sure, but the sales charts I have seen for PC games the tail usually maintains for a year not a couple months. These were on reddit so I have no access to them for reference.

I think that the praise Ni No Kuni has gotten will help with its long term sales though. Even the employees at EB were recommending it to people.

I think the only thing that is holding NNK back is the lack of marketing. I don't know why Namco bandai didn't put a little bit of marketing into it but I guess they didn't think it was going to sell anyway? Probably that judging by how little copies and special editions they created.

My hope is that it will win some awards or be mentioned during the game of the year awards the VGAs or whatever and sales will spike again around christmas.

I still believe its going to keep slowly selling throughout the year though.

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Dante399
Friday, March 29, 2013 @ 3:29:35 AM
Reply

JRPGs will go into a comma but it'll be revived some time in the distant future by longing fans. They'll have the budget to produce a long forgotten genre and transform it into a thing that everybody loves.
If you want something so bad then make it yourself.

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Gordo
Friday, March 29, 2013 @ 3:43:47 AM
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JRPGs are dying on the big consoles. They are pretty vibrant on handhelds however. I personally like my JRPGs portable as they are more intimate, usually grinding is easier on a commute than at home on the console, and graphics are usually not the main issue so handhelds are fine.

Persona 4 Golden on the Vita is excellent. I'm sure Persona 5 will be big! Maybe we are just experiencing the end of Square Enix.

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___________
Friday, March 29, 2013 @ 4:12:52 AM
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dying, not dead.
id like to think there are still many developers out there that want to revive the genre and bring it back in a big way.
versus 13 if it ever releases will hopefully help that.
and, well, ill never stop dreaming of the obligatory kingdom hearts 3.

when you think about it allot of genres are making a strong comeback, so why not JRPGs?
horror was just about dead in the water, but now thanks to indie titles like amnesia, SCP, slender, ect, its slowly starting to make a return and theres a few big name developers working on new horror games for next gen systems!
im still dreaming ken will be at E3 this year, revealing a sequel to system shock.
oh the possibilities!
another perfect example of a dead genre reviving is stealth.
was once dead, but now games like splinter cell blacklist, hitman absolution, and the recent announcement of thief 4 have revived it!
so why cant JRPGs be the same?



Last edited by ___________ on 3/29/2013 4:18:39 AM

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Vivi_Gamer
Friday, March 29, 2013 @ 5:06:30 AM
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There is no doubt the JRPG's among our PlayStation selection are vanishing. I just looked through my PS2 collection to see What JRPG's have gone on to this gen.

Dark Cloud 1 & 2 - Nothing
Dragon Quest VIII - Dragon Quest IX (DS)
Final Fantasy X, X-2 & XIII - Final Fantasy XIII, XIII-2
Kingdom Hearts 1 & 2 - Converted to portable consoles.
Rogue Galaxy - A unique JRPG and I will accept Ni No Kuni to take that place.
Shin Megami Sensei titles - Nothing, not even a Persona V
Star Ocean 3 - Star Ocean 4
Valkyrie Profile 2 - Understandable why this might not have expanded much...
The only new IP I have is Neir...

Now that was just from looking at successors from my PS2 JRPG collection, which isn't that grand to be fair. But even from that you can see how the JRPG market has pretty much vanished especially on main consoles, if anything JRPG ports and remakes have infested the PSP & DS - there's tons of them!

There have been quite a few JRPG's on the PS3, but they are usually presented with this over the top anime art direction - which I personally find really off putting. I am not saying every JRPG has to have realistic looking characters as FFXIII. I love the art direction in Ni No Kuni which makes use of the surreal imagery of Studio Ghibili very well, Another example is Dragon Quest, I love t he look of the character models by the same artist of Dragon Ball Z. But them art styles are very distinctive and work, What I cannot stand is when you get characters with them generic boggly eyes in an attempt to be cute, especially if they want me to take a certain character seriously - it doesn't work.

Had we not had Xenoblade this generation i'd completely agree with you. But that game really restored my faith in the classic JRPG. Sadly, it was released at the end of the Wii's lifetime and usually goes for a price which makes it quite a rarity. Meaning, it's not a game that people will casually pick up and the only people that will really go after it are 'hard-core' JRPG fans like many on this website.

As for what Square have done with this Lightning Rises. It's the first time I am not excited for a Final Fantasy - which for me is a big deal. I hope this announcement at E3 will blow my mind but like most all I am expecting is Final Fantasy Versus XIII to be renamed Final Fantasy XV...

I have yet to play Legend of Dragoon, here in the UK that goes for about double the price of normal PS3 release o_0 Though I have got it on the wonderful US PS Store and intend to playthrough it someday.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, March 29, 2013 @ 8:23:30 AM
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The irony is that they don't need to have big budget JRPGs to make tons of money, they could spend the same amount on them as they did in PS2 days (big budget then, not so much now) and if they did them PROPERLY there could be a huge recoup in cost since so many crave that form of gameplay.

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xenris
Friday, March 29, 2013 @ 11:24:14 AM

I think thats the problem World. It seems like publishers waste a lot of money now on things not crucial to the game. Either adding multiplayer to the game, or wasting money on high profile voice talent.

Sadly the corporate way everything is going with game development I don't know if this is even an option outside of devs kickstarting or doing budget titles.

I still don't know why NOW people need to sell 5 million copies to just break even when in the PSX and PS2 era 1 million was considered a huge success.

People say its more expensive to make games now but that is bollocks. Publishers and devs waste money. When you see the quality stuff 5 man dev teams put out on a budget that is well under 1 million bucks you start to question all this crap that people are spitting out.

Indy games are slowly showing people that you do not need a big budget for a game to appear big budget and to be of quality that much is clear to me.

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Siris86
Friday, March 29, 2013 @ 9:14:43 AM
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On this question, one must consider the creation of a "AAA JRPG" from a developmental standpoint. Action titles and first person shooters rendered at AAA quality does not come close to the expense of a grand RPG experience of similar caliber. Consider that a game that would elevate itself to the idealistic measure of RPGs of old would have to be practically larger than any game before it and have a stunning level of detail to re-inspire the awe of what came before. This is very daunting from a developmental and fiscal standpoint. I can't say it's wholly accurate, but when Yoshinori Kitase stated that a Final Fantasy VII remake at the level of quality we expect would take 20 years of development, there's a grain of truth to it. I, personally, feel like Final Fantasy Versus XIII is going to fill the role of reinvigorating the Final Fantasy franchise. Given its long development, it has a shot to be as grandiose and beautiful as the expectation of a AAA next-gen RPG, but, when it takes the time necessary to create such an experience, the internet complains and calls it vaporware. I think its annoying but E3 will settle everything.

Also, anime has been infused with JRPGs essentially from their conception, so I think it's erroneous to say that they have suddenly been invaded by the style and relegated to niche this generation. Phantasy Star, Grandia, FF VII/VIII, Chrono series, Dragon Quest, Legends of Mana, Xenogears, and many others all share a very Japanese, anime-inspired art style and story structure. Now, whether or not one as an adult finds the style as relevant and impactful is the true question.

With Versus XIII and the 'X' role-playing game on the WiiU, I don't think one can say the genre is dead. It is certainly rarer, given the expense necessary to create such games, but that just makes it all the more important to support the ones that do release. At the PS4 event Level-5, Tri-Ace, Atlus, Idea Factory, Image Epoch, and Nippon Ichi are all listed as developers supporting the new, powerful platform. Let's try and be optimistic, eh?

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Friday, March 29, 2013 @ 11:34:42 AM

The shifting tides of the industry mean that in fact, anime-inspired games like most JRPGs were HAVE been relegated to niche.

We simply didn't have a choice before. Most ALL RPGs on consoles were Japanese and hence, most all had at least some anime influence. Some were stronger than others (i.e., heavy in Granstream Saga and lighter in Chrono Cross) but it was basically always there. In fact, most of the industry was still dominated by Japanese developers and therefore, we saw that cultural influence everywhere.

Now, it isn't necessary. Western gamers don't need to adopt another culture's style for their gaming entertainment, and when given the choice, they typically turn to Western studios. Furthermore, I strongly believe that many JRPGs we see today are much more heavily infused with Japanese anime and style than before. At least before we had games like Vagrant Story and Legend of Dragoon and Star Ocean, where the art style was very different, even unique.

Now, it's mostly just the Atelier games, White Knight, Disgaea, Hyperdimension Neptunia, etc. These are all HEAVILY Japanese. So this, combined with the aforementioned shift, has indeed made JRPGs far more niche then ever before. I can use myself as an example, in fact:

I've never liked anime. But I loved JRPGs. Only if they were REALLY anime-like did I start to have a problem. These days, I really can't handle most of the JRPGs I play to review because they are SO much like anime. Trust me, I see the differences.

Last edited by Ben Dutka PSXE on 3/29/2013 11:37:35 AM

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Highlander
Friday, March 29, 2013 @ 12:46:02 PM

Siris,

When nthey said it would take a ludicrous amount of time to do and HD town in a JRPG, they were indulging in Hyperbole, WKC which is not the best liked JRPG out there has large towns full of residents rendered very nicely in HD. Level 5 is not as large as SE, so I don't believe thta SE would take anything like as long as claimed to do it. It's a matter of wanting to, not being able to.

Ben,
I think that actually the niche games like the Atelier and Neptunia games are the end product of the problems we are seeing, they are not contributory factors. WKC was not heavily Japanese and despite the lack luster sales it achieved it still sold better than all of the Atelier and Neptunia games, and Ar Tonelico Qoga - it even outsold Star Ocean 4 on PS3. The tales games have sold reasonably, though still not stellar by comparison with the multi-million selling western RPGs, they are still close to the style of older JRPGs.

I believe that it would be more correct to say that the more mainstream JRPGs like the older FF titles, Xenosaga, Vagrant Story and Legend of Dragoon, etc have faded leaving the more heavily styled JRPG games left over. In other words, as the JRPG has died away and the supply of mainstream JRPGs has dried up, all that is left is the die hard, hardcore JRPG fans who are more prone to be fans of other Japanese culture and therefore find the more heavily stylized games like Atelier, Neptunia etc to be right up their street.

It's not so much that the industry tried to push more heavily stylized games, causing a problem. it's more that the industry ceased making mainstream JRPGs leaving only the hardcore fans and the niche titles that they always bought, left standing.

I'll use VGChartz information, their methodology is questioned regularly, but whatever it's flaws, they impact all the numbers, so the relative positions in their charts are still reflective of the market.

Screening out games that are not considered JRPGs from their RPG numbers this is what you are left with for PS3;

Valkyria Chronicles
White Knight Chronicles 1 (IE)
Tales of Graces F
Tales of Xillia
Ni No Kuni
Resonance of Fate
Star Ocean: The Last Hope International
White Knight Chronicles II
3D Dot Game Heroes
Disgea 4
Tails of Xillia 2
Tales of Vesparia
Disgea 3
Eternal Sonata
Atelier Totori
Hyperdimension Neptunia
Atelier Rorona
Atelier Meruru
Ar Tonelico Qoga

Nothing else listed sold more than 200K copies world wide. I left both FFXIII games off the list because I honestly question whether they should be classified as JRPGs or Action RPGs. Of those games only WKC2 and above sold more than 500K copies world wide. Only Valkyria Chronicles sold more than a million.

I don't think you can blame games like the Atelier Series or Neptunia games for any decline in JRPG, they are simply what's left in the space where the hardcore JRPG fan is still catered to.

But then, I don't think things have changed all that much since PS2.

Outside the realm of Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts and Dragon Quest, you're left with Xenosaga 1
Dark cloud,
.hack//infection Part 1
and Suikoden III as the only million selling games. Suikoden 4 only sold 350K copies BTW.

Titles that we're nailing as hard core niche titles sold similarly on PS2 to the way they sell on PS3. Atelier Iris 3 - 290K sales, Sakura Wars 290K, Disgea 2 330K, Disgea Hour of Darkness 330K, Ar tonelico 2 180K, Breath of Fire Dragon Quarter 190K, Mana Khemia 2 200K.

That's sales on PS2 with it's enormous unit sales of consoles. Sales of games like those on PS3 are about the same. This is really the 'rump' of the JRPG market, the hardcore fans that will buy their games every time.

BTW Legend of Dragoon almost hit 2 million sales on PS1, but Vagrant story barely missed 900K. Suikoden was only 600K, Breath of Fire 4 560K. PS1's heavy hitters were FF 7,FF8, FF9, Dragon warrior 7, FF Tactics and Parasite Eve. Nothing else sold more than 2 million copies.

I believe that it's important to go back and review the actual sales performance of JRPGs before we draw conclusions. PS2 had a potential market twice the size of PS3, yet the sales numbers of all but a few established franchises are similar from PS2 to PS3. Some of the games we hail as gold standard classics really didn't sell as well as their reputations would suggest.

I guess what I am saying is that the differnces you're talking about were always there, and have been consistent and sold consistently since PS2 and beyond. However, with the lack of 'big' JRPGS (real ones, not FFXIII), that core JRPG market is more visible now as a consequence of the failure of the 'big' JRPGs.


Last edited by Highlander on 3/29/2013 12:50:29 PM

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Excelsior1
Friday, March 29, 2013 @ 3:58:46 PM

@highlander

You used VGChartz. and you go on to say only WKC2 and above sold more than 500,000 copies world wide. What does "and above " mean? Is and above a typo and you didn't mean to put the word "and above" in there? Or are you saying only WKC2 and the games listed above sold more than 500,000. hmm. It must be the latter because I know WKC1 sold 850,000 copies and Ni No Kuni sold 660,000 copies.

Anyways, it's your thread and you can leave Final Fantasy 13 and 13-2 out if you want to but I disagree with your claim they aren't JRPG's. An action RPG? If you said action JRPG the then I would be more inclined to go along with it maybe. Now we have to define what a JRPG is. By the way FF13 sold 4.96 million copies on the PS3. I don't remeber how much it sold on the 360 but it may have been under 2 million.

FF13 has some JRPG elements in it like long winded speaches that scream JRPG. Snow's over-the-top here comes your hero speaches comes to mind. A lot of posing in the cutscenes that are very Japanese. There's a lot of melodrama in the cutscenes that is common in a lot of a JRPGs. The baby chocobo nesting in Shaz's hair feels very JRPG like and Japanese to me.

Now let's move onto the battle system. The two sides face taking turns attacking each other. You can Paridigm shift to go offensive, defensive, and to heal your party. There are all kinds of posiblities in the paridigm system and you can create your own that exploits an enemies weaknesses. The way the characters pose during battle is over-the-top and very Japanese. Still sounds like a JRPG to me. Auto battle stream lines process but you never have direct control over the character like you would in an action RPG.

For it to be classified as an action RPG you would have direct control over your character and be able to move your party member around during battle like you could in Kingdom Hearts. KH is a great example of an action RPG. FF13 isn't an action RPG in my humble opinion.

In FF13 you can level up with a system that is very close to the sphere system found in FF10. You can also focus on specific classes as you level up. You can level up your weapons and accessories. You can equip different weapons and accessories. Sounds like a JRPG to me.

FF13-2 is even more JRPG like because you can capture animals like Pokemon and level them up. There are shops and towns in FF13-2.

Lightning Returns looks like an action RPG to me. I'd have to play it and then decide whether or not to put a J in front of RPG.

How about we call FF13 JRPG lite? FF13 definitely has some Japanese flair to it. It also has some definite RPG elements like leveling up different classes. Auto battle streamlines the process for you but you are sill facing off with the enemy and taking turns like you did in FF10. FF10-2 had the dress sphere system that let you change your characters class. FF 13's battle system kind of reminds me of a hyped up version FF10-2's.

Last edited by Excelsior1 on 3/29/2013 4:05:02 PM

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Highlander
Friday, March 29, 2013 @ 4:56:42 PM

Excelsior, I'm pretty sure that it was clear, however;

The games above WKC2 in this list;

Valkyria Chronicles
White Knight Chronicles 1 (IE)
Tales of Graces F
Tales of Xillia
Ni No Kuni
Resonance of Fate
Star Ocean: The Last Hope International
White Knight Chronicles II
3D Dot Game Heroes
Disgea 4
Tails of Xillia 2
Tales of Vesparia
Disgea 3
Eternal Sonata
Atelier Totori
Hyperdimension Neptunia
Atelier Rorona
Atelier Meruru
Ar Tonelico Qoga

sold more than 500k copies, the ones below it did not.

I know how many copies VG charts says FFXIII and FFXIII-2 sold. I specifically did not include their numbers because most JRPG fans do not consider them JRPGs - I refer you to Ben regarding that since I'm sure you will enjoy arguing with him on that. I made no points or arguments regarding sales relative to FFXIII, so it's a non issue in regards what I was talking about in the comment.

I did not exclude FFXIII/FFXIII-2 in order to generate a debate on whether they are JRPGs or not. Include them in the list for your own reference if you like, they don't alter the points being made.

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Siris86
Friday, March 29, 2013 @ 2:19:52 PM
Reply

I thought I had hit reply, but I guess I posted a brand new comment. My apologies.

Ben,

I would only suggest that the influence has not changed but the style and content of anime has. Not liking the medium, I can't blame someone for not seeing the shift, but the style and content of anime has changed drastically in the last few decades. Wherein successful anime of the 80's and 90's were large-scale, epic confrontations with strong science-fiction overtones (this is admittedly general, as abundant exceptions exist), popular anime today is more whimsical and comical, with greater emphases on character interactions and attractive designs. The "moe" and "slice of life" flavor has infiltrated game and character design due to it's popularity on both sides of the Pacific. So, again, I suggest that fluctuations in popular anime has relegated the shifts that you are observing.

Highlander,

It's a ridiculous statement I know (and I said I don't agree with it), but it is true that the workload to create a game world the size of Final Fantasy VII's with the fidelity that would be expected of the title is absolutely daunting. Of course it's possible, but gamers are not proving themselves to be a patient lot. White Knight Chronicles was 2-3 years in development, no? It yielded good results, but I would suggest that it's graphics did not come close to what was in either FF XIII installment (despite their flaws). Having the large open-world and abundant inhabitants equates to a graphical compromise, whereas the two FFXIII titles were the opposite. To have both is the great challenge.

Last edited by Siris86 on 3/29/2013 2:21:28 PM

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Highlander
Friday, March 29, 2013 @ 2:50:41 PM

Well, I'll defend WKC as it's probably expected I would. I'd suggest that you're wrong about the standard of the graphics in WKC, but then people will generally say I am biased. I don't believe that I am, WKC has become an easy target for abuse, and it is much maligned. Graphically it has a different style to recent FF games, however the level of detail and fidelity in it's graphics is actually high, what it lacks - compared to FF titles - is a layer of gloss.

I don't know how much (if at all) you have played WKC, but with WKC2 the graphics were a step up from the original, and really very good. For a nice example of this, look at the City of Faria.

FFXIII is not really a JRPG in any case. I think that the argument SE makes about the time taken is really a false one simply because Square Enix spends more time working on making the game look like a movie than it does making the game now. The emphasis within their process became skewed by their vision of making their games look like their movies.

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Rogueagent01
Friday, March 29, 2013 @ 5:02:12 PM
Reply

I don't believe they are gone just in a slump. As it stands once created nothing really dies, so long as there is a want somebody will be there to supply what they need. All it takes is for the right developer to play the right game and be moved to create one themselves. Eventually one of them will have a large budget at their disposal. And once one succeeds that is it, the parasitic industry will follow giving you many high budgeted JRPGs. Mind you many of them will suck and then we will be talking about the overbearing amount of bad JRPGs flooding the market.

Ahhh....the wheels just keep turning.

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ricksterj
Sunday, March 31, 2013 @ 11:32:05 AM
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Another video game crash is a-comin at this rate.

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