Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Importance of Blue Dragon

Blue Dragon IS Microsoft’s biggest ace in Japan for this year. This could also be their last chance of proving themselves in that market and to the rest of the world who is stuck in the 80's thinking Japan is the center of the gaming universe.

As a JRPG fan, I found this game to be awesome! This is the first time in a long time that I actually felt excited to play a JRPG. I’m 26 and a part of me feels that I’ve seen every single JRPG and encountered every clichĂ©d, anime sugarcoated JRPG plot. But Blue Dragon gives me that feeling that I’m up for something new.

It doesn't matter how good Blue Dragon may be nor how cheap Blue Dragon bundle from Japan, a part of me is not that optimistic that it will sell truckloads in the first week. It will sell truckloads in Japan eventually...but not in the first week.

Unfortunately, for us, the immature gaming industry/journalism considers the success of the game within the first few days of sale. It’s not a marathon to the end (which is better representation on of reality) but more of a 500 meter dash. I’ve taken several courses on Japanese studies and quite frankly, I am confused as to how the Japanese think but for us who are actually HOPING it sells well in Japan, I suggest we set our hopes low.

Realistically speaking, its more than just Microsoft at stake if Blue Dragon doesn’t sell truckloads on the first week. The careers of Hironobu Sakaguchi and his staff are also at stake here. This is the comeback title of Sakaguchi. Japan is a society that looks down on failure. Failure in the Japanese society taints your honor as a person and to some extent the rest of the people you interact with. Sakaguchi has failed once, but his previous achievements saved him from being completely disregarded. He cannot appear to be a failure again.

From what we’ve seen on Blue Dragon, its awesome but the bottom line will all be about sales on the first week. Nobody cares about sales on week 2 or the following weeks. Nobody respects sleeper titles in the gaming industry...its just the first week or bust.

I hope that Microsoft has enough foresight to know this. I hope that rather on focusing particularly in Japan, Microsoft releases this game to the one market that can pad its sales...the WHOLE OF ASIA! For their sakes and Sakaguchi’s reputation, do not focus the launch of Blue Dragon in Japan alone but offer the rest of the world!

Unlike Japan, the rest of Asia isn’t stuck in the Playstation rot. It’s a near guarantee that the Asian XBOX 360 market will support the sales of Blue Dragon. The Asian market doesn’t need fancy voice acting or whatever. All we need is are subtitles translated to English or Chinese/Mandarin. That’s all.

My suggestion points to a bigger scenario for Microsoft and that is shifting focus away from Japan in particular but to the rest of Asia. As many are well aware, in the gaming industry there are only 3 major regions, North America, Europe and Japan. I understand the importance of the first 2 continents but Japan is just one country...and in there is a BIG grey area that the gaming industry ignores which is the rest of ASIA and AUSTRALIA.

I hope Microsoft has a strategic launch for Blue Dragon that extends outside Japan. The rest of the world will buy Blue Dragon even if its devoid of an action figure, a poster, a picture book, a t-shirt and the rest of the freebies Microsoft puts in to make the hard headed Japanese try something new.

We, the rest of the world, will buy Blue Dragon for what it is...a great promising game.

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