I hope you\’ll excuse my bias. Â I wrote some early press releases for Operation Rainfall, before it grew larger and found more volunteers to take my place. Â I\’ve always had a horse in this race, and I can\’t pretend otherwise.
So. Â That said? Â It worked.
Even with only two of the three titles (so far) having North American releases announced, it has worked. Â It has honestly been far more successful than I ever imagined it would be. Â I didn\’t even entertain much optimism when the campaign went viral last year, pushing Xenoblade (under its previous placard title, Monado) to the top of Amazon\’s pre-release chart. Â It seemed a quixotic undertaking, something to set us all up for disappointment further down the road. Â Nintendo obviously had bigger fish to fry: turning the 3DS around, developing for the Wii U and shoring up third-party support for both devices. Â What hope could there possibly be that they\’d listen to a relatively small group of impassioned fans?
It was a fool\’s errand, doomed to fail, like so many other fan campaigns throughout the years.
Until it wasn\’t.
You see, it wasn\’t that Nintendo announced North American releases for Xenoblade and The Last Story, it was how they announced the games would be released. Â If Nintendo had planned North American releases for these games all along, then Nintendo of America would simply have announced that they were publishing the games here. Â They could have provided themselves with a public relations coup, by co-opting Operation Rainfall while the movement was still a phenomenon and thus striking while the iron was hot to keep as many Amazon pre-orders as possible for Xenoblade last summer. Â But NOA didn\’t do that. Â Why? Â I\’d wager that Nintendo thought that the fever would break among OpRainfall supporters and fans…and they were right. The recent announcement of The Last Story\’s North American release hasn\’t exactly pushed it to the top of Amazon\’s chart like the halcyon days of Operation Rainfall\’s Xenoblade push (at least not immediately). Â But it didÂ make a mark. Â Relatively small compared to Mario or Zelda, but a mark nonetheless.
Make no mistake, Nintendo isn\’t putting the full weight of their marketing muscle behind these games; in the case of TLS, they aren\’t doing it at all (instead leaving the game\’s NA release in the capable hands of XSEED Games). Â What they are doing are small-time, piecemeal releases through different outlets. It appears that Xenoblade may be a pre-order only GameStop exclusive. Â I would guess that a few stores will order extra copies, anyway, but it makes sense for them to limit possible losses by printing up as many copies of the game as there are pre-orders. Â For The Last Story, handing publishing duties off to XSEED removes that type of burden off of NOA altogether. Â They\’ll collect licensing fees and be on their merry way. Â Does this sound like a company that planned on releasing these games all along? Â Quite the opposite. Â It sounds like a company who realized that they had English-language localizations of these games in the bag, and can make a little bank on \’em if they keep their expectations modest.
How modest? Â Oh, about the continued size of Operation Rainfall itself. Â The movement never died. Â It grinded on, well after NOA provided a no plans \”at this time\” reply to the fans\’ outcry. Â They cautiously gauged the true interest in these games, aimed low, and found some very low-risk options for release.
None of this would have happened without Operation Rainfall. Â They didn\’t force Nintendo\’s hand, but they did ask to shake it. Â And that has made all the difference for us Wii owners starving for RPGs.
Can they make it three for three? Â Of that, I\’m doubtful. Â Nintendo owns Monolith Soft, so they obviously have some stake in seeing a return on their investment (even if it\’s a relatively small return). Â The Last Story has no less than RPG royalty behind it, the esteemed Hironobu Sakaguchi. Â By contrast, Pandora\’s Tower has a small and virtually unknown developer at the helm, Ganbarion, who doesn\’t have the pedigree of the other OpRainfall titles\’ development cast.
But I do have a horse in this race, too. Â Pandora\’s Tower is the Rainfall game I wanted most of all. Â And after The Last Story\’s North American release announcement? Â You never know what plans Nintendo has in mind.
I could be wrong, but I don\’t think those plans would have ever come to fruition without Operation Rainfall.