Double Take is a series where we take recent announcements and occurrences in the gaming industry and offer our immediate thoughts on them.
Console JRPGs are a risky venture in this day and age. With budgets of games constantly on the rise, high sales are needed for games to be considered successful, and let’s face it: JRPGs are still a niche genre. They probably always will be a niche genre as well. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s one of the main reasons a lot of JRPGs are now seen on handheld devices instead of home consoles.
With that being said, Xenoblade Chronicles X was a huge risk for Nintendo, more-so than Xenoblade on the Wii. The Wii had an install base that the Wii U could only dream of, so there was a greater chance of the localization of the game being successful. Xenoblade Chronicles X didn’t have the luxury of being on a system with a massive install base that could somewhat predict success for the title.
Xenoblade Chronicles X was also a much more costly adventure. With a Special Edition, a massive sprawling open world, and tons of dialogue for translation, the budget for Xenoblade Chronicles X more than likely is massive compared to the original title on the Wii.
Xenoblade Chronicles X had three major strikes against it: the genre, the install base, and the cost. Yet, the latest NPD rumor shows a lot of promise: the game is selling well in the US.
According to a “reliable source”, Xenoblade Chronicles X sold over 200,000 copies at retailers in the US in the month of December. That number only accounts for physical sales of the game, and not digital as well. So what does all this mean? In my eyes, it means that Nintendo should push more RPGs on their console because they actually sell well.
Now, “well” is a bit of a figurative term, but the small install base of the Wii U is obviously one of the biggest reasons that games don’t come to the system. A game like Xenoblade Chronicles X, or any RPG aside from a Final Fantasy game, is a niche market that seems to be dwindling in most areas. The fact that Xenoblade Chronicles X is selling well on the console in most regions shows that the demand is there, and Nintendo fans can be the demand.
Look at Square-Enix in Japan. Dragon Quest is a huge franchise there, and has been on the Wii and Wii U in that region, but never localized due to fear of the game not selling well enough to cover costs and turn a profit. And while that is a valid fear, Nintendo can easily take strides to alleviate these by continuing to produce console RPGs.
So what games should Nintendo create? Well to start, Mario has starred in many handheld and console RPGs up to the Wii U, so a Paper Mario (or new Super Mario RPG) is a great place to start. Nintendo also has a fantastic RPG franchise that has been dormant for far too long: Star Tropics. You could even create an interesting RPG similar to Kingdom Hearts that includes all Nintendo characters (think Smash Bros roster with RPG gameplay).
The sky is the limit for what Nintendo can do with RPGs, and Xenoblade’s success on the Wii U shows that the market is there. Will Nintendo capitalize on it? Let’s hope so.