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JRPG BLOWOUT ON AN FPS BOX

Guess how many times do XBOX 360 fans like me read these kinds of comments?

“Uh...any JRPG will sell more on the PS3 since there are more JRPG fans on the PS3”
Why should developers put JRPGs on the 360 when its going to have multiple disks”
"The Playstation is the home of JRPGs!”
“The XBOX is an FPS BOX!”


Sometimes I forget that in the Internet I can be reading the comment of a 10 year old that I get frustrated whenever I read such ill-informed opinions. Some people can't seem to get their heads out of the year 2000 when the first XBOX was dead last in the console race with only Halo 3 as its saving grace. Fast forward to 2008 and look at the platform that has the most diverse game line-up in its generation...it's the XBOX 360.

The moment Star Ocean 4 was announced, the JRPG fan in me was happy but I expected the news. I laughed when I remembered one of the threads in the Playstation forums urging members to 'pray' that Star Ocean 4 is exclusive. I laughed back then when I first heard it and I laugh harder now considering the game looking like a timed exclusive release for the XBOX 360. Exclusivity is a thing of the past and is the true reason why console wars were waged years ago. These days, I don't really care about exclusivity from third party developers, all I want is the opportunity to play their games without resorting to buying another console.

A few weeks ago the news was Square Enix was loosing marketshare in the west. Granted they too were at fault for releasing one remake after the other, the news was further supplemented by a statement claiming that Square Enix President Wada threatened to fire employees and wanted to focus on titles with a more mainstream appeal. Add that to the fact that Square Enix has been looking for a western partner.

So what is Square Enix so unhappy about that they decided to 'grace' the gaijin XBOX 360 with 3 games which are either an exclusive or timed exclusive? Apart from Metal Gear Solid 4, Square Enix titles, particularly Final Fantasy, is the best reason to actually get a PS3. Given that high acclaim from the Sony fans, isn't that enough for Square Enix?

Bottom line, the answer is a resounding NO.

It has been years since Square Enix released a proper Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest game. It has been two years since they announced Final Fantasy 13 (and its numerous iterations). In that span of time, the only thing Square Enix seemed to release are DS games and every conceivable Final Fantasy / Final Fantasy related remake, prequel, sequel and whatnot. The DS releases were meant only for the Japanese audiences since the DS is the KING in Japan. But outside Japan, I think people won't bother playing a remake of a game that they already played. And in some case, they were also let down by the 'graphics' in these remakes. Although I have to admit that the graphics are quite good looking for a DS title, Square Enix is known to innovate more on a console rather than a handheld...hence the disappointment.

Sure some of the Square Enix games had decent worldwide sales but this isn't enough. Their biggest game is hanging at the edge of vaporware...God knows Square Enix has spread themselves too thin in announcing 3 (or 4?) Final Fantasy 13 titles. Yes folks Final Fantasy shall now be referred to as: Final Fantasy .

Now that that intro is over...allow me to share with you my fangirling moments (proof that I have too much time in my hands or I'm just too lazy to actually get some work done) over some interesting posts and counter arguments I've read over the Internet regarding the whole JRPG issue and how the XBOX 360 sucks as a JRPG platform.


A comment from Gamersyde:


“The guys at Square are really shooting themselves in the foot by making all these 360 exclusive games. Look at Enchanted Arms and Eternal Sonata. Those publishers realized they made a horrible mistake, and both games went to PS3 eventually. I mean even Ninja Gaiden 2 sold only 20,000 copies in Japan on day one. That's pathetic.“
A comment from TeamXBOX :
"funny how the 360 has gotten the majority of the jrpgs yet they all flopped..."

To that I answer this...

This is the one for Lost Odyssey from the Feb 2008 NPD US Sales Data: http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showpost...38&postcount=1

360 CALL OF DUTY 4: MODERN WARFARE* ACTIVISION 7-Nov 296.2K 1
360 DEVIL MAY CRY 4* CAPCOM USA 8-Feb 295.2K 2
WII PLAY W/ REMOTE NINTENDO OF AMERICA 7-Feb 289.7K 3
PS3 DEVIL MAY CRY 4* CAPCOM USA 8-Feb 233.5K 4
WII GUITAR HERO III: LEGENDS OF ROCK* ACTIVISION 7-Oct 222.9K 5
NDS MARIO AND SONIC: OLYMPIC GAMES SEGA OF AMERICA 8-Jan 205.6K 6
360 LOST ODYSSEY MICROSOFT 8-Feb 203.6K 7
360 TUROK TOUCHSTONE 8-Jan 197.7K 8
PS2 GUITAR HERO III: LEGENDS OF ROCK* ACTIVISION 7-Oct 183.8K 9
360 ROCK BAND* MTV GAMES/ELECTRONIC ARTS 7-Nov 161.8K 10

Now how many JRPGs achieved that status without being called a Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest? And that's just first month of sales...I'm pretty sure other people bought the game after its initial release.

Another thing I'd like to point out for that is despite LO being within the same month as Devil May Cry, it still got pretty good sales.

While I cannot find the other statistics right now, Blue Dragon and Eternal Sonata have at least gotten 50,000 sales which is the default average sale of a JRPG title in the US.

And compare that with this...

Here's the March 2008 NPD Sales Data:
http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=279520


WII SUPER SMASH BROS: BRAWL NINTENDO OF AMERICA Mar-08 2.7M
360 *TOM CLANCY'S RAINBOW SIX: VEGAS 2 UBISOFT Mar-08 752.3K
360 ARMY OF TWO ELECTRONIC ARTS Mar-08 606.1K
WII PLAY W/ REMOTE NINTENDO OF AMERICA Feb-07 409.8K
PSP GOD OF WAR: CHAINS OF OLYMPUS SONY Mar-08 340.5K
PSP CRISIS CORE: FINAL FANTASY VII SQUARE ENIX INC Mar-08 301.6K
WII GUITAR HERO III: LEGENDS OF ROCK ACTIVISION Oct-07 264.1K
360 MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL 2K8 TAKE 2 INTERACTIVE Mar-08 237.1K
360 *CALL OF DUTY 4: MODERN WARFARE ACTIVISION Nov-07 237K
PS3 ARMY OF TWO ELECTRONIC ARTS Mar-08 224.9K

While its not for a major platform check out the sales of Final Fantasy Crisis Core. Interesting eh? While its definitely higher than Lost Odyssey, its surprising that a no-name game (with no franchise origins) got decent sales in a platform that is considered to be an FPS box and is more expensive than a PSP.

Of course lets see the much anticipated sales of a Final Fantasy title (a prequel to the most popular FF series...FF7) did against an FPS title. I haven't played FF Crisis Core but I've heard a lot of positive rave about it from my friends who also follow JRPGs. It's not a bad title but looking at the sales data below:

360 TOM CLANCY'S RAINBOW SIX: VEGAS 2 UBISOFT Mar-08 752.3K
PSP CRISIS CORE: FINAL FANTASY VII SQUARE ENIX INC Mar-08 301.6K
Wow...that's quite a lead for Rainbox Six Vegas there. And considering the platform 360 is much expensive than the PSP that is certainly impressive and to some extent shows a hint of the extent of the JRPG 'dream' influence.


Another comment from TeamXBOX:

"All you can do, is look at the previous Sony user base and the games they bought. for 15 years or something, Sony has had the most and best RPGs. you can only guess that there are millions of sony fans waiting to purchase a PS3 when there are RPGs on it or there are tons of PS3 owners that bought a PS3 thinking it would have RPGs."


If we are going to look at historical evidence then the 360 shouldn't be around right now, neither should it have a high attach rate of games.

That's where most analyst fail with their assumptions. They look so much in the past and keep on thinking that the past will happen again and console will reign supreme because for the last 10 years or so they were.

The problem with that assumption is people think gamers buy consoles out of loyalty to a platform. They also assume that developers are also platform loyal (and to some extent they are, with Hideo Kojima and Tomonobu Itagaki being examples of this, but most of them do not adhere to this.) No one bothered to figure out why in the world was some consoles heavily supported than the others because in the end what makes a gamer pick up a console are the number of games available regardless of them playing it or not.

Gamers want a wide selection to choose from, its a simple as that. No console loyalty or whatsoever. While its logical to expect that the trend for the PS1/PS2 will carry over to the PS3, over the years this idea has been proven to be wrong by Sega and Nintendo.

For me the decision to support the XBOX 360 by Square Enix is a logical one...specially if they want to make money. I can't deny that Japan is a strong market but these days its not enough and its loaded with cheap casual games. The true videogaming market lies in the west and that is something that MS has covered for now.

MS also has the benefit of having developer tools something that isn't discussed so much in forums but remain as one of the biggest deciding factors to support a platofrm and also something that Sony doesn't have at the moment. What Sony has is a stronger hold on Japanese developers since they are Japanese and there is no cultural/language barrier but for everyone else MS holds the advantage.



And another comment from TeamXBOX (yes I'm a glutton for punishment considering I keep on going to that place when I'm bored.):

"What does PS3 have to do with Persona 3? It's a PS2 game...
You asked how many games outside of FF / DQ have sold a million
Shin Megami Tensei Nocturnal has also sold over 1 million
Kingdom Hearts if that counts as an RPG
Romancing SaGa: Minstrel Song has sold over 500,000k in Japan alone

We got people saying lulz enchanted Arms didn't sell on PS3, well no ****, it didn't sell on 360 either, the game sucked. jRPG fans aren't dumb, they're not going to buy crap JUST because it's a jRPG"


When I made that list there were two things I considered:

1) I did not factor in the Japan sales because I wanted to focus on the growing market outside Japan. If we are going to talk about Japan, then all games should just remain on Japanese platforms for their sake.

2) I did not focus established franchises like Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest and their related titles (i.e. Kingdom Hearts)

Taking those things into consideration, outside Japan, an average JRPG does not sell a million copies on its first month of release. When it does reach a million this happens over a span of time.
Why am I bringing this up?

When people say that JRPGs do not sell on the XBOX 360, they always highlight two things...

1) XBOX 360 games does not sell well in Japan.
2) They compare the sales of a JRPG to an FPS (Lost Odyssey vs Halo)

For the first reason, I don't care about Japan anymore and the bigger Japanese development houses seem to agree that there is a bigger market for games outside Japan. That is why Namco and Capcom are still making games for the 360 even if in Japan, their 360 release don't do as well as the western market. And that is the real reason why Square Enix has finally decided to support the XBOX 360 with Star Ocean 4.

People always look at Japan sales when talking about a JRPG, they don't bother with figures outside Japan but at the same time they are going to highlight certain facts about the wetsern market wherein they pit the western sales of a JRPG to an FPS. Isn't that odd? People can go on and on about sales of Japan then highlight a different sales figure when it comes down to arguments if XBOX 360 gamers (assumably western ones) play JRPGs.

For me when it comes to the XBOX 360, its the western sales figures that are more relevant than the Japanese ones.

And as for Enchanted Arms...it wasn't that bad. Sure it was average (with some nice moments) but people are quick to label it as garbage simply because it didn't sell like Final Fantasy.

Last but not the least...another hilarious comment by one of the certified TeamXBOX Playstation fanboys with my husband offering a comment:



"Do you have a gif of someone giving Bill Gates the finger? Cuz that's the one I'd like. The only thing MS is doing is paying developers to keep their games away from the people who will actually buy them. They can kiss my ass. They've done nothing this gen but invent achievements and screw the status quo by throwing around money. Maybe they should spend more money fixing their **** hardware instead of blowing wads of dough to convince the Japanese audience that the 360 exists. I'm sick of MS deciding what people on other platforms get to play."


They already did fix the hardware....the Falcon is pretty reliable, and it's been out since late 2007. Any complaints about the hardware can be made by early adopters; but anyone considering to buy an Xbox 360 now has no reason not to. The Falcon hardware really is more reliable and you can easily have the system replaced by Microsoft if something goes wrong.

As for Bill Gates supposedly buying out all these exclusives....in the end we'll never really know if that's what happened. Surprisingly you could hurl this same accusation at Sony. Maybe the Xbox fans should curse Sony for 'buying' out FF13 and MGS4 because they too are paying for exclusivity. But in the end, nobody really knows who paid for what and how much. I think they could have paid for some exclusive games but the real reason why these games are all 360 bound is probably for a simpler reason:

It's just harder to develop these same games on the PS3, in a short time frame. Time and again it has been mentioned by various developers during interviews that it's much harder to squeeze performance out of the PS3; perhaps some of the Japanese developers just decided to move on to the 360 for this very reason. They need profits TODAY and not after 5-7 years of development. Console game sales are more profitable if games can get released quickly.

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