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Can Final Fantasy / JRPGs ever reach the sales of the old days again? - A Discussion

Toth

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Jan 27, 2010
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One of the most recent barbs critics of Ff13 use is that the game and its sequel have sold less than previous installments of the series. However, I feel this speaks largely to the state of video game sales in Japan and NA than to any changes in an established franchise. Here, from wiki, is the life long sales of the FF Series:

Year Platform Title Sales (in millions)
1987 NES Final Fantasy 0.40 million
1988 NES Final Fantasy II
1990 NES Final Fantasy III 1.4 million in Japan
1991 SNES Final Fantasy IV 1.44 million in Japan
1992 SNES Final Fantasy V 2.45 million in Japan
1994 SNES Final Fantasy VI 2.55 million in Japan
1997 PS Final Fantasy VII 10.35 million, includes Final Fantasy VII International
1999 PS Final Fantasy VIII 8.15 million
2000 PS Final Fantasy IX 2.86 million in Japan; 5.30 million shipped
PS Final Fantasy Tactics 2.3 million approximately: 1.35 million in Japan,
950,000 in US...
GBA Final Fantasy Tactics Advance 1.102 million approximately: 660,000
in US, 441,926 in Japan
2001 PS2 Final Fantasy X 8.05 million
2006 PS2 Final Fantasy XII 5.2 million approximately: 2.4 million in Japan, 1.7
million in US, 1.1 million in Europe; 5.2 million shipped
PS2 Final Fantasy X-2 5.29 million approximately: 1.92 million in North
America, 2.11 million in Japan, 1.25 million in other countries
PS2 Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII 1.243 million approximately:
513,157 in Japan, 460,000 in North America, 270,000 in Europe
PSP Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII 2.59 million approximately; 830,000 in
Japan, 710,000 in North America, 550,000 in Europe
NDS Final Fantasy III 2 million approximately: 1.06 million in Japan,
460,000 in North America, and 480,000 in Europe
NDS Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings 1.04 million approximately:
540,000 in Japan, 220,000 in North America, 280,000 in Europe
2009 PS3, 360 Final Fantasy XIII 6.71 million worldwide
2011 PS3, 360 Final Fantasy XIII-2 2.55 million worldwide

Where my concern begins were when I saw the sales data from Japan last year:

The top selling games in Japan in 2011 (total sales numbers in parentheses):

Mario Kart 7 (Nintendo 3DS): 1,082,391 units
Super Mario 3D Land (Nintendo 3DS): 1,042,511
Monster Hunter Portable 3rd (Nintendo 3DS): 1,021,457 (4,502,446)
Monster Hunter 3G (Nintendo 3DS): 809,322
Final Fantasy XIII-2 (Sony PS3): 697,146
Final Fantasy Type-0 (Sony PSP): 696,428
Rhythm Heaven Forever (Nintendo Wii): 633,429
Tales of Xillia (Sony PS3): 632,151
Wii Sports Resort (Nintendo Wii): 612,807 (2,732,655)
Wii Party (Nintendo Wii): 584,545 (2,123,773)

source: http://techcrunch.com/2012/01/05/japans-video-game-market-2011/

Also of relevance from that article: "Japan’s video game industry is the world’s second biggest (after the US), but it’s on a downward streak for the fifth consecutive year. Based on sales, the country’s video game industry has contracted by as much as 8% year-on-year.

I went a year back to see 2010's sales for additional info: (source gamerinvestment.com)

Top Five Software Sales

Pokemon Black & White (Pokemon, DS, released 9/18): 5,149,022
Monster Hunter Portable 3rd (Capcom, PSP, 12/1): 4,372,182
Wii Party (Nintendo, Wii, 7/8): 1,826,857
Dragon Quest Monsters Joker 2 (Square Enix, DS, 4/28): 1,283,423
Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Nintendo, Wii, 5/27): 956,853

Total market shrunk 14% from fiscal 2009

Total sales 472.6 billion yen (down 13.9%)

Hardware sales 170.68 billion yen (down 21%)

Software sales 301.92 billion yen (down 9.3%)


In the end, with the market rapidly declining, even quality games like BD and Tales of Xilia 2 are barely breaking 300k at release. So I ask GAF: just how would games like FF7 and FF8 or any older JRPG success do in today's market, Japan and NA wise? Going further still, imagine if an old popular JRPG came out this year for the first time with the exact same gameplay (not one change!) but with crisp HD graphics. Would they sell? Or is it, as I fear, the market for the JRPG fading every year....
 

MagiusNecros

Gilgamesh Fan Annoyance
Mar 18, 2012
14,736
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No.

Fanbase too diverse.

Only Ito and GILGAMESH can save us from Lord ExDeath
 

Isak_Borg

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Jan 28, 2012
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The market is cyclical and JRPGs aren't going anywhere. I can see them becoming a big part of the next generation when COD/Shooter fatigue sets in.
 

Toth

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Jan 27, 2010
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When you say Final Fantasy / JRPGs are you specifically saying "not Pokemon", right?

Yes. Pokemon has always drawn its strength from its portability so it will always be a huge seller. I was going more along the lines of thise old classic Enix, SE, and Taito RPGs.
 

Glass Rebel

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Oct 12, 2010
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I doubt it.

I don't think the modern Western gaming audience is too fond of aesthetic or gameplay of current JRPGs. The J-Pop or "Animu" infused games make them a hard sell, sadly. It also doesn't help that Final Fantasy has been on a downward trend critically speaking and that budgets are small compared to other blockbusters.
 
Apr 4, 2007
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I'll just leave this here.... :(

 

Toth

Member
Jan 27, 2010
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When's the last time any new IP he made sold over a million?

Never?

I know.

Well, here's the thing that I raised in the OP:

What new JRPG IP IS selling over a million? Can that even happen again with the way things are going?
 

MagiusNecros

Gilgamesh Fan Annoyance
Mar 18, 2012
14,736
216
775
Well, here's the thing that I raised in the OP:

What new JRPG IP IS selling over a million? Can that even happen again with the way things are going?

Actually trying one might help a little bit.
 
Jul 20, 2009
7,379
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How much did Dragon Quest 8 sell?

Dragon Quest 9 had people upset it was for DS, and Dragon Quest 10 - albeit still selling, might have alienate some people being an MMO.

But I think their sales are still crazy strong.
 

Orayn

Member
Jul 4, 2010
34,289
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Short answer: No.
Long answer: Heck no if you're going to insist that the genre remain completely unchanged.

imagine if an old popular JRPG came out this year for the first time with the exact same gameplay (not one change!) but with crisp HD graphics

I don't want to imagine that. To me, a future for JRPGs involves more games like FFXII and Xenoblade, not staid oldschool games like Blue Dragon or "streamlined" bastardizations like FFXIII.
 

Toth

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Jan 27, 2010
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How much did Dragon Quest 8 sell?

Dragon Quest 9 had people upset it was for DS, and Dragon Quest 10 - albeit still selling, might have alienate some people being an MMO.

But I think their sales are still crazy strong.

True but DQ9 was portable and the other portable entries I believe all sold over a million (DQ6 was like 1.5 million WW?) DQ10 is at I think 500k users atm? It seems only portable RPGs really have ANY million sale legs nowadays....
 

SolidSnakex

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Jun 7, 2004
85,523
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Also of relevance from that article: "Japan’s video game industry is the world’s second biggest (after the US), but it’s on a downward streak for the fifth consecutive year. Based on sales, the country’s video game industry has contracted by as much as 8% year-on-year.

I went a year back to see 2010's sales for additional info: (source gamerinvestment.com)

It was actually up through the first half of this year (with software sales going up quite a bit)

Enterbrain and Famitsu.com shared domestic industry sales totals for the first half of 2012 today, covering December 26 through June 24. For the first time in two years, the Japanese games market saw year-on-year gains.

Total hardware and software sales reached 193.4 billion yen, up 0.7% from the previous year's 191.98 billion.

The increase came despite falling hardware sales. Hardware fell from 79.81 billion yen in 2011 to 70.73 billion in 2012.

Software made up for the hardware losses, rising 9.4% from 2011's 112.17 billion yen to 122.67 billion yen.

http://andriasang.com/con1q3/japan_game_industry/

In the end, with the market rapidly declining, even quality games like BD and Tales of Xilia 2 are barely breaking 300k at release. So I ask GAF: just how would games like FF7 and FF8 or any older JRPG success do in today's market, Japan and NA wise? Going further still, imagine if an old popular JRPG came out this year for the first time with the exact same gameplay (not one change!) but with crisp HD graphics. Would they sell? Or is it, as I fear, the market for the JRPG fading every year....

ToX2 sold 364k in its first week. Since when is that barely breaking 300k?
 

zoukka

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Nov 18, 2006
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They need to go back to the ground principles. Use universal design principles instead of the silly, weird crap they call design in the series nowadays. Everything looks random and detached.

I'm not saying they have to DQ their art, but as of now, you can't tell if you are looking at an armor, character, lampshade or a vehicle if you look at random FF shots.
 

BD1

Banned
Nov 27, 2011
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Yes.

It's just going to take ONE breakthrough game, and the rest of the pubs will fall over themselves to get one out. Everything old becomes new again, eventually.
 
Jun 9, 2004
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JRPGs are dying in the west FPS are the new kings around here unless we are going to give them guns now dunno man.

Unless you want them to spread out the ports a little more. Nintendo platforms have not gotten a real FF in decades those fans might bite if given a meal once in a while. But seriously FF is bleeding, there are so many other amazing gaming experiences they can no longer be the sole top visual epic on a platform.
 

daemissary

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Nov 19, 2011
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I still love JRPGs...I just hate all of the terrible JRPGs they have released on this generation of consoles. Give me a fun battle system with a story that isn't completely convoluted and a world that doesn't shuttle me down linear corridors without 15 minute cutscenes every time I do anything of significance and I'll buy it.

I'm guessing a lot of people that were fans in the PS1 era are in the same boat as me. Just make better games and we're back!
 
Jul 20, 2009
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Researching numbers for this thread made me learn that phenomenal rpg du jour Persona 4 sold:

US
Persona 4 (PS2) – 110,000 (150,000 expected)

Japan
Persona 4 (PS2) – 300,000 (180,000 expected)
Persona 4 Golden (Vita) - 260,000 units
Persona 4 Arena - 220,000 copies


Not even as much as Final Fantasy Tactics Advanced :\
 

LuuKyK

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Mar 18, 2012
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What were you thinking Toth?! t_t Nothing good can come out of this thread, and I just wanted to say that I'm not entering this thread anymore because the first two posts made me want to punch a cat already.
 

Atolm

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No, because only FF sold well in the West even back in those alleged Golden Days. Tales of, Grandia, Lunar, Persona and other IPs were as niche then as they are now.
 

Bladenic

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Sep 13, 2011
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FFXIII did great, especially given lower install base at its launch (in Japan anyway). FFXIII-2 had a huge drop, but it's hard to say whether it is the FF brand or the XIII subseries. Although I think spin off sales are way down from what they once were as well.
 

Woo-Fu

incest on the subway
Jan 2, 2007
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Only if the current crop of man-children who enjoy them can reproduce via cloning.
 

Yottamole

Banned
Apr 23, 2008
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True but DQ9 was portable and the other portable entries I believe all sold over a million (DQ6 was like 1.5 million WW?) DQ10 is at I think 500k users atm? It seems only portable RPGs really have ANY million sale legs nowadays....
DQ10 being an MMO for the Wii is the reason for it not breaking 1 million units. There is little reason to doubt that the next offline Dragon Quest main entry, whether it be for a handheld or a console, to break 3 million units in Japan.

But the DQ franchise is only popular in Japan and holds a special status there, kind of like Pokemon. Both Pokemon and Dragon Quest can probably be exempt from the trend of general decline in JRPG sales.
 

Derrick01

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May 9, 2011
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It won't happen. Whether you like it or not NA and Europe is western RPG territory now. MS courted all of the former PC greats and created an image where their hot new hybrid shooter/action/RPGs are the "cool" games now.
 

dan2026

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Jul 10, 2012
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Perhaps if they actually put out a decent game, more people will buy and faith will be restored in the franchise. Final Fantasy is pretty dead to me at the moment.

Other series...maybe, when was the last big budget A++ JRPG out?
Lost Odyssey?
 
Jul 20, 2009
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Only if the current crop of man-children who enjoy them can reproduce via cloning.





Other series...maybe, when was the last big budget A++ JRPG out?
Lost Odyssey?
Lost Odyssey (and for that matter, Blue Dragon) had the disadvantage of being the first game in their respective series.

Had Mistwalker not crawled into a crevice and died, their sequels could have possibly gained some traction.

Also Ni No Kuni might be the most recent high budget game, but YEEESH, super-bomb and possibly deservedly so due to the supposed soulless story.
 

t26

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Dec 28, 2011
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Going further still, imagine if an old popular JRPG came out this year for the first time with the exact same gameplay (not one change!) but with crisp HD graphics.

How about no. I love how modern RPGs like Tales of and Persona got rid of random encounter.
 

Hix

Banned
Jul 24, 2011
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A few thoughts;

The damage to the Final Fantasy brand this gen has inevitably had a knock-on effect on the JRPG genre as a whole, which is little surprise given it's the international flagship JRPG. Not all the blame falls at Final Fantasy's door, but Toriyama's insistence on us liking XIII, whether we want to or not, has almost certainly done irreparable harm to what was once considered one of the most important franchises in gaming.

Fans in general didn't adopt the Xbox 360 early on, despite it's plethora of money-hatted exclusives. This caused a strange divide among the consoles for the fanbase, which wasn't a problem during the PS2 "golden era". This is less of an issue overall, but I can't help but wonder if things would have been different if Japan had warmed to MS's desperate attempts to woo them.

More and more emphasis is being put on gameplay rather than having a coherent narrative, interesting characters and appropriate dialogue. Namco Bandai seemingly shit out Tales of games with no thought put into them whatsoever. Characters like Asbel are like nails on a chalkboard and honestly, he's dime a dozen amongst the cast of Star Ocean 4, Infinite Undiscovery, Eternal Sonata and countless others this gen.

All that said, the biggest issue for JRPGs at present is technology. Why are so many retreating to the graphically safe waters of handhelds etc? It's easier and more cost effective to develop for. This is going to get worse rather than better for most companies. Square Enix will still be able to produce the goods, ala Agni, but as per above they seem to be too busy running around like headless chickens, oblivious to what their fanbase actually seem to want.
 

Kagari

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There's probably not too much of an issue with Japan, aside from the decline of home consoles. You'll just see more big RPGs on handhelds... but then, that presents a problem for the west, which seems to be shunning dedicated handhelds as of late.
 

Yottamole

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Apr 23, 2008
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How about no. I love how modern RPGs like Tales of and Persona got rid of random encounter.
Not the Vita versions of Tales of Innocence and Tales of Hearts, apparently. Even though both of the original DS versions have visible encounters.
 

Kagari

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With Final Fantasy they can try making them good again. Could help with sales.

There is no doubt that the FF brand has been diluted, and it's not just NeoGAF saying this. I've seen it on other boards and outside the Internet as well through friends who used to play every entry in the series, but got burned bad with XIII so they don't even want to come back. Their excuse is that "it probably won't be good again."

This is a major problem for Square Enix. They've spent too much time entertaining Toriyama's fantasies that they've lot sight of what FF should be really. On consoles, this entire generation has been nothing but FFXIII... well, and soon to be XIV... but if you don't like MMOs or the Lightning games then what else do you have? There's a reason XIII threads go on as long as they do, and that's because the people in them are either criticizing the game, defending it to their death, or talking about something else entirely.
 

Necron

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The damage has been done. Time will tell if it's permanent.

If they succeed in (finally) kicking Versus out the door and it actually being good: maybe it'll sell decent numbers.
 

redlemon

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Unlikely, for a good while anyways. Most Jrpg's are marketed and made with the teenage demographic as their focus. Except not a huge amount of teenagers are interested in playing them anymore. I doubt sales will pick up unless they change who they aim their games towards.
 

Toth

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What were you thinking Toth?! t_t Nothing good can come out of this thread, and I just wanted to say that I'm not entering this thread anymore because the first two posts made me want to punch a cat already.

Haha Luu, I just wanted to remind people that any 'sales' rip against any game, especially since Ff13 detractors love to parade this like it means the total picture, should be looked at with the whole picture, which is that JRPGs are declining in sales across the board.

Also, not everyone is reading the OP. I said imagine if FF7 and 8 came out brand NEW today (but with better graphics), how would they be received? How would people react to FFIX's art style or 8's junctioning system in today's market?
 

Azriell

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Jan 12, 2011
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The problem in my mind with jRPGs is that many of them feature antiquated mechanics and game design. If you define the genre by these mechanics, then no. jRPGs, like many formerly star genres, will remain niche. If they evolve as most genres tend to do, then perhaps the genre will regain some of it's lost popularity.

Looking at the kind of games that kids are growing up with today, and how the focus continues to move towards faster action and that hollywood blockbuster feel, I doubt jRPGs will ever be a top tier genre (though there will always be exceptions, like Pokemon).
 

Kagari

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Unlikely, for a good while anyways. Most Jrpg's are marketed and made with the teenage demographic as their focus. Except not a huge amount of teenagers are interested in playing them anymore. I doubt sales will pick up unless they change who they aim their games towards.

I think you're also seeing most of the existing fanbase get older while not enough new ones come in to make up the difference.
 

Esura

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Jan 29, 2012
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Haha Luu, I just wanted to remind people that any 'sales' rip against any game, especially since Ff13 detractors love to parade this like it means the total picture, should be looked at with the whole picture, which is that JRPGs are declining in sales across the board.

Also, not everyone is reading the OP. I said imagine if FF7 and 8 came out brand NEW today (but with better graphics), how would they be received? How would people react to FFIX's art style or 8's junctioning system in today's market?

Definitely not as well as they did back then. I don't think many realize the market has changed drastically and think if they make FF like they used to it would auto make everything better.