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Author Topic: 1UP: Why the Golden Age of JRPGs is Over  (Read 10589 times)
CDFN
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« on: July 19, 2011, 02:52:14 PM »

Since we're discussing it a lot in this thread, here's a feature on the state of jrpgs in the West:

http://www.1up.com/features/golden-age-jrpgs-xenoblade-pandora-tower-last-story-xseed
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Eusis
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« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2011, 03:00:22 PM »

Sorry, think this is worth it's own thread.
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CDFN
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« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2011, 03:12:37 PM »

OK, thanks.
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« Reply #3 on: July 19, 2011, 03:38:20 PM »

I think that it is a little early to say that jpgs are down for the count in europe and na. In my opinion the industry is just at a pretty weird point right now, because of all the new hardware on the market which has yet to establish itself properly and then there are major games that are getting closer to release.. like d3 ma3 and skyrim... most of the japanese developers don't really stand a chance against such giants in the west( in some cases probably in the east too).

Basically i see no profitable future for unknown japanese franchises on consoles ... even the well known ones will probably be selling just above avarage in the west ... the Handheld market however might still have some surprises in store for the western audience. The 3ds has just begun its career and the psvita is not even out yet although they might as well go down thanks to piracy ... i mean pirates wouldn't even pay for ds games.... the new generation is even more expensive.

ps: btw I think nintendo will have to get rid of the regional block on the 3ds .....at least as soon as some titles that definitly won't come over to the west are released... i'm thinking about something as major as the super robot wars series right now.
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Yoda
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« Reply #4 on: July 19, 2011, 03:48:57 PM »

I didn't know sony, nintendo, micosoft imposed a minimum on games licensed. Interesting.
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« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2011, 04:03:13 PM »

The era of classic, turn-based, animu, etc., JRPGs is over.

The dawn of a new era arrived with Demon's Souls. Japanese devs have a choice to either embrace the evolution or stay in denial and continue their steep decline into obscurity.

In all seriousness though, that was a painful read. And for those Japanese devs and related publishers to suffer from the imposed minimum number of retail copies tells you how irrelevant the genre has become on an international level. It simply doesn't put food on the table anymore.

Edit: Seems like it wasn't just me who was shocked by that minimum copies part. I remember reading about it a long time ago though.
« Last Edit: July 19, 2011, 04:07:32 PM by hell_snake » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: July 19, 2011, 04:56:53 PM »

I don't agree the era is "over".  JRPGs (or most niche markets on consoles for that matter) seem to ebb and flow.  Right now FPS is all the rage with the annual COD rehash with the following endless overpriced DLC until the next release.  It's reminiscent to me of how EA works their sports games. 

The US got next to nothing on the NES.  We finally started getting some love on the SNES.  Then it came on strong on the PSX and PS2.  And while it's definately waned on the home consoles, this generation has still gotten quite a bit on the portables.

But look at where the lack of JRPGs are coming from.  Microsoft, though faring better in this generation, still isn't all that popular in Japan.  Yet there have still been fair amount of JRPGs for the 360 that made it to the US.  The PS3 has an even healthier stable of games that made it overseas.  Nintendo is the exception.  They've never accepted the genre.  The Wii RPG list is just garbage, and you have to fault Nintendo at least partially for that.  They release a great GC game like Fire Emblem and put ZERO marketing into it at all, yeah it's going to fall beneath the radar with only die-hards like us noticing.  Then shovelware like Wii Play gets released with plenty of coverage and sells like hot cakes. 

I agree with the article's argument about piracy being part of the problem.  But as far as costs like physical media, boxing, packaging, shipping, inventory, minimum production runs, overstock...the obvious answer to that already exists: digital distribution.

Look at what Xseed did with Wizardry for the PS3.  You're basically bypassing all articles' listed hurdles and costs except for the piracy part.  And with a new generation of systems coming up, hopefully security will be much better. 
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John
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« Reply #7 on: July 19, 2011, 05:31:42 PM »

SquarePenix:  I'm actually working on writing an article regarding digital distribution and the JRPG.  Another significant issue comes about with parity in the gaming industry.  With increased game development cost and there no longer being a "lead" platform, JRPGs are difficult.  No longer can a publisher or developer push them out for the PS2 and know that the majority of their owners are going to have that console.  Your audience is splintered and development cost is increased if you have to publish on multiple platforms.

Wizardry's a unique bird, too, because of the lack of localization assets.  If you were to compare, say, Wizardry to, Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky, you're likely looking at a difference of thousands of man hours.  Translation is difficult, voice acting is expensive, and localization is important now, too.  We don't accept spoony bards or Chaos Wars anymore - not unless the joke is on purpose.

Digital distribution is a good step, but I don't think the current RPG market supports it, at least not for consoles, and few JRPGs are developed for PCs.  Question there, does XSEED localize Falcom's stuff for PC and put it on Steam?  I'd find that very interesting.
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« Reply #8 on: July 19, 2011, 05:35:25 PM »

Quote
This result in an unfortunate catch-22 -- if retailers order too many copies that don't sell, the publisher takes a loss. If they order too few, fans of the game are faced with the equally unpleasant options of pre-ordering the game, purchasing it used at a huge mark-up months later, or not buying it at all.

I've noticed this a lot on the DS. If you don't nab a game on release you're often screwed. I almost missed radiant historia for example because by the time 'best rpg in years' word of mouth got around to me it was sold out, though later I did manage to nab a used copy. Or a few years ago I walked into EB and hadn't bought any games for awhile and had 4 games I was interested in and they didn't have a single one.

Going to kind of go into a forum taboo topic here, but it's kind of the core point of the article. Feel free to snip the paragraph though. They print less copies because of piracy. And the irony to this is it's made me consider DS piracy just to play games that nobody will sell me(Or only have used, atlus didn't see a dime off my copy of radiant historia). Of course were I to open that door I'd be tempted to pirate everything, whether it was available for sale or not. And then the problem just gets worst because of that.

A lot of it's not necessarily a permanent issue though. The article does mention digital distribution and that could turn things around in the future. For example, recettear is a niche game as they come. But it's on steam, physical copies aren't a issue. If you want it and didn't get it last year you can get it right now. If you want to hold off another year or two it'll still be right there. As the industry moves more in the digital direction things will open back up for rpgs.
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« Reply #9 on: July 19, 2011, 05:54:54 PM »

Digital distribution is a work in progress.  This is just the first generation of it for consoles.  Yeah, parity is a problem, and yes as games become more sophisticated, there are definately new costs to go along with that and the new technology.  But digital distro HAS caught on in the US at least.  I'm not saying it's anywhere near critical mass.  But it doesn't have to be, at least right now.  The big budget bombs like Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest are going to come out regardless of any associated costs.  Niche titles are just that...niche.  They make up a small segment of the market, and those that enjoy those games will find them.  And they will buy them, even if the only means is via download.
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Aeolus
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« Reply #10 on: July 19, 2011, 06:39:52 PM »

At least with digital distro you have a few advantages for both publisher and consumer in the fact that once its up there, it stays up there. You don't have to worry about leftover stock or blink and you miss them releases.

And its thanks to digital distro that this getting a release is within the realm of possibility. Something that Nintendo could've taken advantage of with their VC if they were less retarded about it.
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« Reply #11 on: July 19, 2011, 07:01:14 PM »

What about the 'collector's" who want physical copies of things? Will digital distribution satisfy the need to have the copy in hand as it were. I mean I know that if there is no other option most would, I imagine, rather have a copy in whatever form than none at all, but I wonder if this facet of the gaming community will become a "force" or if most would capitulate rather easily when faced with the alternative.
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« Reply #12 on: July 19, 2011, 07:14:35 PM »

I feel like I've already said everything I have to say about this topic in other threads.  JRPGs certainly aren't big sellers anymore, and it's kind of a miracle that they ever were.  It has only been made worse this generation because of the platform gap:  The most popular system in Japan (the PSP) is also the least popular in the US.  That's something that can easily change in the next generation (heck, I'm really hoping that the Vita catches on here...), but even if it does we aren't suddenly going to see a huge resurgence in the popularity of JRPGs.

But so what?

As long as niche publishers like Xseed exist I will keep buying their games.  And if they don't...well, I've been working on my Japanese skills.  The changes we have seen in the video game market are inevitable as it 'matures' (I use that term loosely...).  Once upon a time gaming itself was a niche hobby, but now we see a huge market of 'bro shooters' that are popular in a very different demographic than the stereotypical gaming nerd.  It's only natural that as the market itself becomes more mainstream the most popular games are going to be targeting that mainstream demographic.  These are people who probably weren't playing games at all back when JRPGs were popular, and they aren't going to suddenly start liking them.

But guess what, I hate mainstream tastes and I always have.  I don't listen to popular music.  I don't watch big Hollywood movies (well, maybe with a couple of exceptions).  I have very nearly given up on TV entirely.  I have long come to accept that fact that my tastes are different from most people's, and it doesn't bother me.  I think a lot of people consider video games differently because it's a hobby that has only recently become mainstream.  But the damage has already been done.  Heck, this is something a lot of people wanted.

So forget the mainstream.  I just hope people continue to make niche games.

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Annubis
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« Reply #13 on: July 19, 2011, 07:23:20 PM »

Not just jRPGs. I think the whole industry is going down slowly because of risk management and profit maximization.
I wouldn't be surprised if in 10 years I end up playing mostly indie games.
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« Reply #14 on: July 19, 2011, 10:01:41 PM »

The era of classic, turn-based, animu, etc., JRPGs is over.

The dawn of a new era arrived with Demon's Souls. Japanese devs have a choice to either embrace the evolution or stay in denial and continue their steep decline into obscurity.

In all seriousness though, that was a painful read. And for those Japanese devs and related publishers to suffer from the imposed minimum number of retail copies tells you how irrelevant the genre has become on an international level. It simply doesn't put food on the table anymore.

Edit: Seems like it wasn't just me who was shocked by that minimum copies part. I remember reading about it a long time ago though.

why do so many people seem to think jrpgs need to become wrpg's? despite its country of origin demons souls is a wrpg... thats like telling someone if your black and want to become successful in the world you need to start bleaching your skin and become white.

whatever the case i think the golden age of gaming is over... i think we are due for another crash and one of the big boys is gonna go down.

then again maybe peoples are just over reacting to the summer duldrums...at the very least we have tales of graces and disgaea 4 to look forward too.
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