6 Comments

Japanese Companies and the Lies They Tell You

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“We’re gonna get to the bottom of this, savvy?”

                Hi Japan, it’s me, Xeawn. How ya doin’ over there guys? Good? Good. Cool. Listen, it’s been a while since we’ve talked, ya know, because I’ve been trying to go easy on your gaming scene. It’s no secret how I feel about a lot of your games and xenophobic slights against the American gaming scene, but, I try to play nice, ya know? I’m nice like that.

                It’s been a while since I’ve talked about the creepy moe/loli thing that’s really big in games and anime now. I didn’t even write articles about the two new Hyper Dimension Neptunia games, I haven’t brought up Ar Tonelico Quoga, I mean, by and large I’ve been pretty civil.

Despite the fact that every major studio is making crazy xenophobic statements except for pretty much Harada’s Tekken Team, I’ve let it go. Capcom blames America for Resident Evil being an action game, Team Ninja blames America for Ninja Gaiden 3 being abysmal, Namco Bandai blames America for Tales Of not performing well, Level 5 blames America for lackluster Layton sales, and you know what? I haven’t talked about that in a loooong time.

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Have you heard of this game? No? Well that’s your fault.

And, not all of you guys are making dreadful design and marketing mistakes and then blaming us for it. Keiji Inafune as well as the guys over at Game Arts are real quick to say that Japanese studios are producing a lot of lackluster games, or else are releasing stellar titles with zero marketing and then blaming America when they perform poorly. Inafune-sama, you’re awesome. You’re my hero. You know, aside from how creepy Soul Sacrifice is.

There’s also Grasshopper. Suda 51, Shinji Mikami and Akira Yamoaka are consistently amazing; I really have nothing bad to say to any of them aside from Platinum, what’s your beef with Christianity?

But I digress.

Tecmo Koei, Marvelous, Vanilla, Team Ninja, I’ve brought you all here today to discuss 2013. Japanese studios consistently say that games perform terribly in America, and pull out comments like “Americans don’t understand Japanese games”, “Our game failed because we tried to Americanize it”, “American’s have no interest in horror/RPG’s/adventure/whatever genre my game was that I made really poorly and or didn’t market”, or “We just didn’t hit satisfying numbers in the west”.

There are some games coming out for the Vita, a system that Japanese companies refuse to support despite Sony bending over backwards to show that they’re not the mean old man up on the hill that they used to be, that I am eagerly awaiting in America. Now, this public image turn around would be much easier if they would JUST FIRE JOHN KOLLER, but, I digress…

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Please let Kevin Butler handle marketing…

By and large right now I see the Vita as the handheld for Americans, which sort of concerns me because Call of Duty was handed to the worst possible developer for the Vita edition, and…well, it looks like “Generic military shooter I played on my PS1” rather than “CAAAAAAAALL OOOOOOF DUTYYYYY!!!!!”

To digress again real quick; if you’ve migrated here from the old website or you know me in person, you know I’m not woefully fond of military shooters. They’re generally well designed and great pieces of fantasy that like to masquerade as reality to make sales off of patriotism and the primal urge to shoot and or blow up things, but they’re just not for me. Shooters aren’t exactly my favorite genre, though I’m competent at most and in Halo I am Annie freaking Oakley with a pistol.

With that said, while I don’t particularly like Call of Duty (I’m a Gears of War man myself), I respect it. I respect its gorgeous graphics, testosterone filled fantasies, and complete and total detachment from realism while somehow convincing people that it’s a realistic shooter (I cannot think of a single human being who can run into a room by himself, slow down time like his name was Point Man, and shoot twelve guys that have assault rifles while being armed with nothing more than a pistol and true grit).

Looking at Call of Duty Black Ops: Declassified, I do not see a game that I’m not fond of but will respect. I see an absolute mess from a developer that made an absolute mess of an already pretty messy series (Nihilistic; Resistance).

But, yes, from Uncharted to Call of Duty to Assassin’s Creed to Wipeout to Unit 13 (which is not…completely awful), to Ninja Gaiden (which sort of is in this port) to Silent Hill to Little Big Planet to Sound Shapes to Rayman and so on and so forth, it’s pretty much our lovely little action/shooting/racing/adventure system.

Japanese developers: Sony came through on their end and made the system exactly how everyone asked them too. Can you all let go of your beef long enough to support the darn thing?

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“Why don’t you love me?”

And look, Tokyo Game Show is only like, ¾ of a day in and y’all are doin’ pretty darn well! We’ve got God Eater 2, Valhalla Knights 3, Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2+, Toukiden, Muramasa, and yes, for those of you who are into that sort of thing there’s Senran Kagura.

Now, discussing things with my sometimes rival and all the times partner in crime CainKarl, a big concern I have is the ridiculously unrealistic expectations the Japanese studios have of the system. Sega, to use an example, is ticked off that in one week the new Hatsune Miku for the Vita didn’t sell as well as the Miku that was the third game in the series on the PSP.

To reiterate, the Vita has not been out for a full year yet, and Project Diva F is the first game in the series on that console. The PSP had been out for two years when Extend, the third Miku game released. Somehow Sega is upset that in one week, Diva F didn’t top the year to date sales of Diva Extend on the PSP…and…this is somehow Sony’s fault? And worthy of you throwing a hissy fit and saying that you don’t think you’ll make any more Miku games? Real talk: that’s just foolishness.

But, even THAT isn’t what I’ve gathered you here today to talk about. What we’re here to discuss is the xenophobic excuses you make to not to release games in the west.

Now, Namco Bandai, sure, in the past because of policies that are…inane at best…and a myriad of words that I’m too nice to say, yes, lots of Tales games that we could have gotten were blocked due to that policy of “no direct ports in America”. BUT, you can’t just blame America for that. What about the five Tales games for the DS that you refused to bring over, hmm? I don’t know if it’s directly Baba’s fault, but when you go “I would love for you to play Hearts, it is the greatest game in the series and everyone in America should play it! By the way there are zero plans to bring this game to America. Maybe if Graces sells well we’ll bring a different game that isn’t Hearts over” it sorta makes you look like that cheerleader who flirts with you then goes to play kissy face with the football captain while you do her homework.

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“I bet you think this song is about you!”

So yeah, Namco Bandai specifically, I’m still waiting on my Innocence R for Vita, but to stop digressing and finish this up: Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2+, Toukiden, Valhalla Knights 3, Muramasa, God Eater 2, I want them. We all want them. And Japan will try to tell you there is no market and we don’t buy them and they bombed/will bomb compared to Japan.

I’m here to tell you that Japanese studios are lying to you through their teeth.

Let me drop a little math on ya:

Valhalla Knights overall series sales in America: 340,000
Valhalla Knights overall series sales in Japan: 240,000

Valhalla Knights 1 sales in America: 150,000 (not
counting PSN/SEN)

Valhalla Knights 1 sales in Japan: 70,000 (not counting
PSN/SEN)

Valhalla Knights 2 sales in America: 90,000 (not
counting PSN/SEN)

Valhalla Knights 2 sales in Japan: 120,000 (not counting…you get the point)

Valhalla Knights Eldar Saga sales in America: 90,000
Valhalla Knights Eldar Saga sales in Japan: 10,000

Figures for Valhalla Knights 2: Battle Stance are not provided as that game only had a digital release in America, and the PSN/SEN doesn’t release those figures.

Oboro Muramasa, or Muramasa the Demon Blade figures in America: 290,000

Oboro Muramasa, or Muramasa the Demon Blade figures in Japan: 110,000

Tales of Graces F figures in America: 220,000 (Baba at first said they were terrible, then later said it was his fault for stealth releasing the game and not promoting it at all)

Tales of Graces F figures in Japan: 390,000 (really…not that great)

Gods Eater Burst figures in America: 30,000 (which is not great, but again, stealth release, no marketing, and the majority of sales were recorded to be on the PSN/SEN)

Gods Eater Burst figures in Japan: 550,000

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“MAAAAATHEMATICAL!!!!”

Now, you’ll notice that I skipped Ninja Gaiden. That is because literally every Ninja Gaiden game that exists has come to America, so, I’m not worried. You’ll also notice that I skipped Toukiden. That’s because it’s an ikkitoussen (Warrior Worth a Thousand) game, and we’ve gotten all of those save for Saint Saiya and Strikeforce 2 in America.

You’ll also notice that I skipped Senran Kagura…honestly, I don’t think the gripping story and deeply moving character development are why you’re playing that game, so…yeah…the language barrier isn’t really an issue here…

The point is, God Eater aside we’ve consistently bought far more of each game than Japan. Don’t even get me started on how many more Mega Man games we buy…

The main problem is, for Japan the studios project a few hundred thousand to be a success, and for America they project a few hundred million. The reason they tell you is because there’s more Americans than Japanese so they expect us to buy more…but, is that really the truth? Let’s hop into my handy little time machine here and look at the way sales figures used to be in Japan and America for some of the top games, and how they’ve changed over time.

SNES Chrono Trigger sales in America: 280,000
SNES Chrono Trigger sales in Japan: 2,020,000

SNES Secret of Mana sales in America: 250,000
SNES Secret of Mana sales in Japan: 1,490,000

SNES Mega Man X sales in America: 50,000
SNES Mega Man X sales in Japan: 50,000

Tales of Eternia PS1 sales in America: 60,000
Tales of Eternia PS1 sales in Japan: 660,000

Now let’s move forward a bit.

Mega Man X4 America: 450,000
Mega Man X4 Japan: 220,000

Mega Man X5 America: 300,000
Mega Man X5 Japan: 200,000

Mega Man X6 America: 140,000
Mega Man X6 Japan: 160,000

Mega Man Legends America: 390,000
Mega Man Legends Japan: 120,000

Wanna see something really freaky?

Final Fantasy XIII combined platform sales in the US: 2,640,000
Final Fantasy XIII combined platform sales in Japan: 1,880,000

But I thought we didn’t like RPG games…or Mega Man…what about

Silent Hill combined sales in America: 3,650,000
Silent Hill combined sales in Japan: less than a million

Siren combined sales in America: 300,000 (and we didn’t even get two of the games!)
Siren combined sales in Japan: 180,000

But we don’t like horror games…

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“YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!”

Also, did you notice how the games have consistently done worse and worse over the years in Japan until their numbers dwindled into next to nothing, yet they have stayed pretty bloody consistent or better in America? So…in truth…what’s really happened is…

The gaming market in Japan has tanked, but rather than blaming their own consumers, the developers are saying it’s America’s fault….when…in actuality what they mean is that…

Japanese gamers hate Japanese games, American gamers like Japanese games a lot, and Japanese studios are pissed off that American’s aren’t picking up the slack, so they’re making xenophobic slights at American gamers and holding Japanese games hostage, in Japan, where no one is buying them, to try to make us feel bad and buy a lot of them, to make up for the fact that Japanese gamers, hate and are not buying Japanese games…

How interesting…

Oh, one more game before I go:

Catherine combined sales in America: 340,000
Catherine combined sales in Japan: 230,000

I’m just sayin…

Xeawn, out.

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6 comments on “Japanese Companies and the Lies They Tell You

  1. Actually i get the feeling it’s more perverse marketing tactics. Underhanded and totally messed up sure but it ironically seems to be working.
    Though TBH some games DO get worse for localizations.

    Oh and a REALLY foul thing is how we never got ON DISC DLC for White Knight Chronicles. I mean WTF man it was ON DISC.

    But yeah i get your gripe but i honestly think it is also about marketing tactics.

    Also i wonder what the sales are for games/mobile games. Could it be that as people in japan have grown up the whole “beat the peg in” mentality has made it so gaming is less common than it was?

    Anyways just my two cents and nice to know. Also gave me a good chuckle considering.

  2. Bloody hell. I post a reply it has me log in and bam deleted. Oh well.

    Anyways to quote the friar from spaceballs “the short short version”

    Seems like a brilliant yet backhanded marketing tactic.

    And the question is raised what games ARE selling well in japan and more than that could it be that their beat the square peg into the round hole mentality could at least partially be at fault. By that i mean could people be giving up gaming over there even when they don’t want to to fit in?

    • Hey Sorrior, thanks for posting! Both of your comments actually made it onto the site, it’s just programmed to withold most comments until I’ve read through them. WordPress basically looks for four letter words or racial slurs, then asks me if I’d like to release the comment. To date though, I’ve never had to moderate anyone, so I might consider loosening up the white list.

      An interesting stance has been made in Japan in the last few years versus America. In America, it’s beginning to become more and more appropriate to game into your adulthood and beyond; gamers are no longer the social outcasts that we used to be. In Japan, the pendulum is swinging in the opposite direction, hard. Unless you’re rockin’ some Dragon Quest or a mobile game, you’re generally looked down upon if you’re into gaming.

      The otaku scene is one of the few in Japan that tends to game into adulthood en masse, and for reasons I can’t possibly explain the whole loli/moe movement is huge right now. As a result, to try to make up for the severe loss of sales, more and more Japanese games are catering to that crowd, which in turn means less and less titles are legit to bring to any other country.

      The mobile market is also hurting the Japanese gaming scene; even more so than the iOS crowd in America, mobile gaming is the new big thing. As a result, numerous local game stores are closing their doors, because the children that used to come in and buy games all the time are content to play on Gree instead.

      • Yeah that’s what i thought. From what i know of japan that scenario seemed the most likely.

        As for the the loli/moe bit it is likely related to social rejection. I used to be a fan in that i watched/read moe/loli series alot more before i got some female friends who also enjoy anime(thus giving me hope i mean you try not having hope of meeting someone) so i get a bit where it comes from. These days i’m more of a meh so it has that design kinda person. However from what i know that sorta feeling is also pretty prevalent for otaku in japan. Thus the likely reason it’s so prevalent…TBH i want the secobd age of GAR filled over the top giant robots. Go Nagai/70s/Aquarion style crazy not Gurren Lagann style crazy.

        So yeah it’s ironically understandable if you’ve spent time in that same sorta mental pit. Also RL friends of the same gender can’t really replace even the hope of a relationship.

  3. All too true. I like to think of myself as a pretty average American, and i still play the mess out of Chrono Trigger, BFM and Megaman and as most know i pretty much prefer to play FPS’
    Very well written article 🙂

  4. Lots of game companies around the world are going out of business, the smart ones are learning from their mistakes or just have a crud ton of money and a really insane fanbase. Our games sucked 20 years ago. Most of the best games we played were pac-man, mario, sonic, all made by japanese companies, and the games we hated were done by crappy american companies who churned out junk to ‘cash in’. But as times changed, those that loved games grew up and started making games, and getting smarter. Our culture is more open to the idea of gaming when you are older and more accepting while the japanese culture sees gaming as a childish or otaku thing (otaku is an insult there,). It will be unfortunate to watch their companies burn to the ground when there isn’t enough people in japan to buy their bad games and assume we won’t buy them either, but the good ones will survive and the bad ones will go just like LJN, Titus, and software creations. The axe swings both ways Japan.

    But I will say I’m tired of first person shooters and open world criminal games being the only source of american ingenuity as well. How many times do we need to reinvent a first person game before we try a side scroller? 😛

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